Wednesday, May 20, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW - Pitch Perfect 2

The original Pitch Perfect was a big surprise hit,  but it can't hold a candle to Pitch Perfect 2 that raked in 70 million dollars in weekend one. More that the original brought in in its entire run.

This will be quick and tidy. This movie picks up after the first movie left off. The wonderful A Capella female collegiate group, The Bellas is now a 3-time national champion and many of our girls are getting ready to graduate and move on. Trouble is, it's a hard reality that most of them do not want to face.

During a performance for the president, The Bellas have a rather unfortunate, embarrassing and inappropriate incident on stage. So they are suspended from competing in future competitions.  But they can compete in the World Championships which is overseen by a different body.  So they decide to and try to rebuild their reputation.

First off, the music in this movie is fantastic yet again as it was in the first movie.  All of the singing with no instruments is terrific and the music in general is overseen in the movie by Mark Mothersbaugh from Akron.  And it is simply sensational. This is also loaded with wonderful satire and parody. This is pretty darn funny at times, and entertaining all of the time.  This makes fun of itself, it also satirizes the modern college experience and many things in society.  All of it very well done.

Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow and Rebel Wilson are back as our main characters and all are funny again.  We do welcome Hailee Steinfeld as a new character and it seems she could be here to take this franchise over if more are made, and if Kendrick chooses to move on. And I'm guessing she will. The supporting cast is strong, and overall so is this movie. The target audience will love this, and see it again and again.

Pitch Perfect 2.   Perfect again for it's fans.

Friday, May 15, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW - Mad Max: Fury Road

The Mad Max series has been rebooted and it's going to be a gigantic success, without question.

This version of the original stars Tom Hardy (Max) and Charlize Theron.   The futuristic story of course is one of the world gone mad,  where the world has essentially been destroyed because of various wars over oil and other "things."  So the earth has been left a barren wasteland where survival is king.

There are various war lord criminal types that have all, and the masses have none. Not even water.  Life is a horrible, horrible venture.  You know the original story and set up. But there are those that are still determined to try to make a difference, and find life better than they have.

It you remember the original, you remember this is not for everyone.  This is weird at times, with really strange and "out there" characters.  This also is the movie with strange and exotic cars and trucks that stage lengthy fast paced battles, and action scenes that seemingly never really end.  This is the same movie, and it has been rebooted very well, and is wildly entertaining.

This could be the action movie of the summer. This has again long and drawn out exciting action sequences that for some reason do not wear out their welcome.  Yes, it is violent but not gruesome.  This has somehow been remade in the way that is really not offensive or overly vulgar.  This does have an R rating, but more than likely for some disturbing images, and overall feel of some intense action.  But I has seen PG-13 far more questionable than this one. And being fair, I don't think too many families with small kids are going to load up and go see this.

This movie also keeps the same theme as the original making some load social commentary amidst all the action.  Hardy is fine as the enigmatic Max, and Theron I thought was incredible in this movie as Imperator Furiosa.   She carried the day and gave this a real nice feel. Theron is really an amazing actor, as she is so beautiful, but they can make her so tough, and unattractive in some roles. She is insanely versatile, and was perfectly cast here.

Mad Max.  This could be one of the really fun and exciting movies of the summer.




Saturday, May 9, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW - Hot Pursuit

Here comes the the big summer movies, and here comes the dog of the year.  Reece Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara star in Hot Pursuit.

How awful is this "comedy?"  It is so terrible, that even the makers of the putrid mess decided to mercifully keep this hunk of junk to a very short 80 minutes or so.  This is a typical summer "buddy comedy" for girls, that forgot to be typical.  Actually typical and ridiculously unoriginal would have been a welcome change from this horrible dry-heave of a movie.

Meet Rose (Witherspoon).  She is a young female officer in the San Antonio police department.  She is also the daughter of a well decorated cop who has passed on.  She is insanely dedicated and a by the book cop who has ended up in the evidence room waiting for her next big assignment.  And she gets one.

Her job is to accompany with wife (Vergara) of a Mexican Drug Lord who is going to testify against her husband and enter the witness protection program.  So Rose and a U.S. Marshall go to pick her up, and it goes terribly wrong.  After a shootout, Rose and the wife find themselves on the road trying to flee the assassins, and the cops, and the news media.  So this is the story of these two on the road trip back to Dallas, trying to stay alive.

Let's recap.  Vergara is a funny woman, but in all honesty she does one thing.  She has only one role she accepts and can do well.   And that is what she does, only they really handcuff her and really only let her look amazing, and speak basically only when spoken to.  She is not funny, and most of that is because the writing is so bad you can almost smell it.

Witherspoon can do many things well.  Let's remember she has an Oscar that she totally deserved from Walk The Line.  She can be funny, and very versatile.  But why on earth she did this movie, is beyond me.  She never, ever, ever, ever stops talking in this movie in some clumsy southern accent someone drummed up for her.  The writing is horrible, and would someone PLEASE tell her to quit talking in this movie?  And someone tell her physical comedy is NOT her strong suit. - At ALL!

It is hard to put into words just how bad this thing really is.  It's not funny, original, or anything even close to resembling anything worthy of your time, or money.  When two stars get together and make something this bad, the word embarrassing comes to mind. And this is.

Hot Pursuit.  Vomitus. Cringe worthy.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW - Avengers: The Age Of Ultron

Here comes the next Avengers movie, The Age Of Ultron checking in at 141 minutes so you better budget some time to get through this one.

Hard to honestly review these kind of flicks.  Movie goers already like every single frame of these kind of movies before ever seeing one of them.  But as much as I would like to get on the bandwagon and say how great this is, I simply cannot. Oh, there is much to admire and like here, but there are serious problems here as well.

Our story is basically this. The Avengers lead basically by Tony Stark (Ironman) (Robert Downey Jr.) are still fighting to keep the world safe.  He then attempts to harness the power of Artificial Intelligence for the sake of good, but it goes horribly wrong.  The Ultron program takes on a life of its own, and now is the biggest threat to the Avengers, and wants to have global extinction of the human race.  Ultron (James Spader) is very powerful, and seems to have the upper hand as the Avengers are divided and seemingly helpless to stop him.

So in addition to half of Hollywood fighting to screen time, and all sitting in the back seat still to Downey Jr., we have to have endless animated and long robot battle scenes for everyone to admire.  They try to continually develop these superhero characters, but it's tough as there are simply too many to pay attention to.  This really looks more and more like a video game, and I understand that is a whole lot of the allure here.  But overall this is fatiguing and just more of the same.  They are really reliant too on wise cracking humor and inside jokes that give this a sense of levity that it needs, but that too has run it's course.

Of course, this is going to haul in truckloads of money, and there is no doubt this has a gigantic appeal for many.  But this movie lacks heart. This lacks any depth in total.  This is just the same characters reprising their same roles, and really bringing nothing at all new to the table.  You would be hard pressed to distinguish the scenes from the the first Avengers to this one.  This is also entirely too long as the editing blade should have been sharper and more skillfully done. But in its defense there is room for mindless summer fun. And this is certainly mindless.

Huge kudos though to James Spader.   He is the voice of Ultron and is superb in every way possible. The dialogue written for him was sensational and he delivers is brilliantly.  They do take time to really develop Ultron, and Spader brings it to life in a most magnificent way. There is no doubt, that Spader's performance and none of it on camera is the best thing in this movie. His work lately in his career has been splendid. 

Avengers: The Age Of Ultron.  Going to be the hit of the summer, just not the best movie of the summer./

MOVIE REVIEW - While We're Young

Now here's a good example of a movie that the critics are going to love, and the audience is going to be like..ehh. The new Ben Stiller Indy comedy, While We're Young.

This is a small piece that is a really nice idea, but the total execution here is not quite as good as that idea.  Meet Josh (Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts).  They are a married couple in their mid-forties who tried unsuccessfully to have children.  As their best friends begin to have babies, they find themselves in a world alone.  They are unable and unwilling to embrace the new lifestyle of their friends, and so they set out to start a new kind of life.

They befriend a young hipster couple named Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried).  They are 20 years or so younger, and live a millennial lifestyle that initially is very appealing, especially to Josh who seems to be battling a bit of mid-life crisis.  They adopt the habits of their new friends, all the while being dropped from their old circle of friends.  But soon Josh and Cornelia begin to see that Jamie and his devious ways are not as appealing as they originally thought, and this may be a one way friendship after all.  In short, this is a drama, and a comedy that puts our stars in limbo caught between 2 worlds. Where will they fit in?

There is a lot to like here as this movie is really relevant.  This is a movie that showcases the generation gap between many generations. It shows the differences between age groups and their values and really brings into focus how fast things are changing, and how a middle aged couple can find themselves without a "home" in a short period of time.  They develop great characters here, and the story paces along very well.  You do find yourself picking sides, and you can get tossed deep into this story.

Naomi Watts is absolutely fantastic in this movie.   She is so versatile in every role she accepts.  I have really liked her choices and her performances the past few years.  Here she is spot on  believable, charming, and at times really, really funny.  There are some scenes here where she is physically very funny and made people really laugh out loud.  She is the best thing in this movie. Stiller is fine, and I applaud him for continuing to try to branch out and do different roles to make his resume a bit more legit.  Reinvention can be tough though, and he still is goofy Ben Stiller at times.

While We're Young.  This is a niche audience movie, that is worth the trip.   This is a movie goers movie that overall is well done. Watts is worth the price of the ticket. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW - Woman In Gold

Here comes a nice piece of history, told in this true story of an important event.  It's simply a shame this is not a better movie.

Woman In Gold stars the wonderful Helen Mirren who can make any movie better.  It's a good thing they got her for this role. She is perfect for it and she delivers, as where the rest of this movie does not.  And quite frankly it should have been much better.

Mirren stars as Maria. She lived in Los Angeles in the 1990's as she was forced to flee Austria in the early stages of WWII when the Nazi's took over.  Maria is Jewish, and had no choice but to leave and never return.  As she remembers her life, she also remembers an amazing portrait painted of her aunt before the war entitled Woman In Gold.  The Nazi's took everything of course including this amazing painting.  After the war, the painting was kept by the Austrian government and became known as the Mona Lisa of Austria. Problem is, Maria wants it back as it really belongs to her family.

She hires Randy (Ryan Reynolds), who is a young lawyer and a son of a family friend. He is hired to try to try to get the painting back to it's rightful place.  He is very green, and seems to be a bit over his head and in fact he is. But they trudge on and dodge very roadblock the Austrians throw at them to a final decision of the paintings fate. Oh by the way, the painting is worth over one hundred million dollars.

This is a true story that deals with the issue of reuniting thousands of these paintings with their owners. Hers is just an example. This movie will have limited appeal clearly with subject matter, but that's not the main offender here. This movie just is not written very well, especially the part of Maria. Mirren does a lot with a little, as the writer chose to write her dialogue as a series of sound bites and not real speech.

This also drags a bit and is not near as compelling as it could have been.  There is also a tough to explain disconnect at times.  There are moments that this movie becomes very self involved, and chooses to leave us behind. Almost like they are amusing themselves.  And it's a shame, this story deserves a better overall movie.

Woman In Gold. Limited appeal, and mediocre at best.

MOVIE REVIEW - The Age Of Adaline

Finally, a real interesting movie that people can bite into and enjoy this early spring.  Blake Lively leads a nice cast in The Age Of Adaline

This is part fantasy, part Benjamin Button, and part love story. This is a plot that I have never seen, and one that plays out nicely on screen.  This story is told in live action, and there are some narration scenes are well.  This is a pretty nice movie that is acted well, directed well, and looks nice on screen.

Lively stars are Adaline Bowman.  She was born in 1908, grew up, got married and had a daughter. Then after her husband dies, Adaline herself has a terrible auto accident in 1935.  She drives her car into a river. And as she was dying in the water, a bolt of lightning hit the water.  Her heart restarted, and she made it out. Then, something magical happened. At the age of 27, she never aged a day thereafter.  For the next 78 years.

She has to keep her secret all these decades, as she was chased down in the 1950's and was targeted to be used as research by the FBI.   So she decides changes her identity every 10 years and keep moving around the country. Since she never ages she is afraid of getting close to anyone, except her daughter as her secret will be revealed. 

Then she meets Ellis (Michiel Huisman).  She wants to love him, but is reluctant.  Then on a weekend getaway to Ellis' parents house, she meets Ellis' father Bill (Harrison Ford).  Adaline is now known as Jenny, but Bill recognizes her as Adaline, as he was in love with her over 40 years ago, before Adaline left him when they got too close.  Will her secret be revealed?  And can she possibly have a life with Ellis?

First off, this is a real nice movie.  National critics are being a bit hard on this movie and I can't really understand why.  This is a nice story that makes you feel good.  This movie has a great look as well. Lively is really great as she creates a wonderfully charming character, who would be such after 108 years of practicing.  This has a nice cast but make no mistake, this is Lively's movie.  She walks confidently through it, and owns the screen while on it.  Although this has a hint of fantasy to it, this is a grown up role for her, and that's great to see.

Should be noted, this has slick costuming, a real nice and subtle music track, and solid performances  by all. But what is really great here is the written story.  Yeah it's a fantasy, but it feels real, and it feels nice to be a part of it.  This does a real nice job of staying on point, and not wandering off into some new direction that many movies often do.  This is good for everyone, and is a terrific date movie.

The Age Of Adaline. This is very enjoyable, well done.