Into the Storm (2014): Tornadoes.
Oh August. How I love this month. And by love I mean hate. August is the summer blockbuster dump month for every movie company out there, and it turns the month into the second worst month of the year behind January for movies. (Which is also why every movie company is pissed at Marvel for putting Guardians of the Galaxy at the start of the month because it was a genius business decision by Marvel and is taking all the money to be made this month.) So it's hard to not have that in your mind as you watch a movie like Into the Storm. The main reason I wanted to watch this movie was because it's main star was the tornadoes. And it accomplishes what it sets out to do: showcase tornadoes. Its special effects are spectacular and they do a great job showing off the tornadoes. The only problem is that there's more movie. If there were 89 minutes of tornadoes, I would have been happy! But there's an attempt at a story in this and it is laughably bad. Just show tornadoes guys! Gosh....
Hysterically terrible. That's about the best way to describe this story. Actually, I think the shot above is the best way to describe this movie. See anything wrong with that shot? How about WHY THE F*CK ARE YOU JUST STANDING AROUND AND WATCHING A TORNADO COME DIRECTLY TOWARDS YOU? I mean you want to talk about YOLOing it.....Jesus! And there are scenes were the human beings in this movie are trying to save each other with the tornado LITERALLY three feet in front of them. No! If a tornado is that close to you, YOU'RE DEAD. This isn't a "oh these guys have the accuracy of a stormtrooper" type of situation. This is simply saying f*ck the laws of nature. That's why I classify this movie as science fiction. Also, there are a ridiculous amount of corners cut in order for this "story" to be told. And it just really takes you out of it. It also does not help that the acting in this is equally bad. You might be thinking to yourself well obviously! But there is some talent in this movie that just completely misfire on their characters. Most notably Richard Armitage as the dad figure. You probably don't know his name but he is in fact Thorin Oakenshield in the cash-grabbing Hobbit trilogy. That's right. The head of the dwarf company is the lead character here, and he is TERRIBLE. He is screen-hogging to the max in this, and it turns into a performance comparable to Kiefer Sutherland in Pompeii earlier this year. Except Armitage has nowhere near the same reputation as Sutherland to overact simply for the hell of it. Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori Grimes in The Walking Dead) is also in this as the lead actress, and she's alright. But Armitage is hogging the screen too much to really notice her. Matt Walsh is also in this. You know, that one guy with minor roles in movies like Ted and Due Date and The Hangover? So it seems only logical to put him in a drama about storm chasing right? I bet you can figure out the answer to that one yourself. Ok I should shut up on my tirade on the actors in this movie. You get my point. But they are basically all terrible and one dimensional. And, well awful.
There really isn't much this movie does right other than the tornadoes. Now granted that's its main objective, so I can't really complain, but it honestly doesn't get much else right. And since tornadoes can't talk last I checked, you aren't going to be able to make a good drama around them. And since what they do is destroy things, you aren't really going to connect with them either. So.... you gotta have more than that if you want a good movie. But with bad directing, editing, acting, and writing, this movie falls flat on its face. Go effects department! Woot woot! I rest my case, your honor.
But seriously, this movie sucks. If you want to see tornadoes in a movie, go get some beers, Redbox it, and have some fun yelling at the screen. For everyone else, your time is better spent elsewhere. Like seeing Guardians of the Galaxy again! Ya. Go see that again. NOW.
The Critique: Tornadoes
The Recommendation: Watch it if you like tornadoes.
Rewatchability: Moderately low with a high risk of tornadoes
The Verdict: 3/10 Bad. Tornadoes.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982): A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home-world
Too bad movies can't be rated on their cuteness because if they could this would definitely be a 10. As classic of a childhood movie as there ever has been, E.T. more than excels at accomplishing its goal of being an innocent and feel good children's sci-fi movie. Innocent. I think that is definitely the best word to describe this movie. Everything about it is just so happy and, well, innocent! A trait that most modern movies have all but lost, E.T. brings us back to a different age of movies. An age not defined by explosions and special effects, but instead an age defined by creativity and ingenuity. Now believe me, I love modern sci-fi flicks just as much as the next guy, and there were definitely points here where the movie's age showed, but what matters in E.T. is its story. And boy does it have a fascinating story. So let's dive into it shall we?
First off, the writing, directing, and editing all deserve an excellent tag. Written by arguably the most historically elusive writer in Hollywood, Melissa Mathison delivers her crown jewel, telling a loving story of childhood and homesickness. Not to be overlooked though is the direction of not-so-elusive director Steven Spielberg. Probably heard of him, right? Well, if people didn't know his name at the time because of works like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Raiders of the Lost Arc, they definitely knew his name after E.T. See what Spielberg and his crew excelled at at the time was bringing things that no one had ever seen before to the screen through the latest technological achievements at his good friend George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic. Spielberg showed off this skill with the mechanical shark in Jaws, but that paled in comparison to E.T. Despite the success of Star Wars Episode V and the puppet Yoda, many were still skeptical at the thought of having a puppet create a fake character and have that be a pivotal part of your movie. However Spielberg and ILM masterfully created a phenomenal character in E.T. He is kind, loving, adorable, and funny. It is incredible to watch how much emotion this character who was a puppet on the set of the movie conveys and how much the child actors interact and connect with him.That's the other plus: the child-actors here are incredible. It's just a shame that only one of them, Drew Barrymore, would have a career following E.T. These three children, played by Barrymore, Henry Thomas, and Robert MacNaughton are asked to do so much here. To not only make E.T. feel like a real character, but to also have their own feelings and emotions and connect with the audience. And they pass with flying colors. Some of the later scenes had me in tears because of their phenomenal performances. I don't do that guys! I rarely am moved to the point of tears in a movie, but I was in E.T. Oh ya and on top of everything else, there is a phenomenal score underlying the entire movie, with one of the more memorable themes out there. Thank you for that, John Williams. I could seriously do a whole bit on why I feel John Williams is the greatest film composer of all time, but I won't. I'll just say he's the greatest film composer of all time. Ok? Ok. End of discussion.
Now, this movie is not perfect. Coming in at 115 minutes, the movie is a little long with a bit of a slow-developing first act, and on top of that the other humans introduced in the second and third acts of this movie feel rushed and underdeveloped. It's as if Spielberg felt he needed a "bad guy" in the movie because every movie has to have a bad guy. Their motivations aren't explained and they flip-flop back and forth with their intentions. Other than that, this movie is virtually flawless. Oh ya and other than certain scenes looking rather dated, but this is to be expected from a movie that is 32 years old, right? Despite this, this movie is an incredibly enjoyable adventure. One that I would not mind seeing again and again.
The Critique: a timeless classic, E.T. is a movie that everyone can watch to remember the child inside of them.
The Recommendation: A must-see for anyone who, well, breathes.
The Verdict: 9/10 Awesome
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993): After a bitter divorce, an actor disguises himself as a female housekeeper to spend time with his children held in custody by his former wife.
Where to begin? It's so hard to review a piece such as this that has become such a pivotal point of American culture, but we'll give it a try. The premise of this movie is ridiculous: a man disguises himself as a housekeeper to spend time with his children due to a terrible divorce. As he maintains this persona his normal self also holds down a job with its own storyline. As the two storylines converge, the premise and scenes become more and more ridiculous and yet......I bought it. I bought every second of it. On paper this movie should be only as good as Martin Lawrence's Big Momma's House, or Adam Sandler's Jack and Jill. Which are terrible, by the way. There is exactly one reason why this movie works and is as great as it is. And his name is Robin Williams.
So yes, first and foremost let's talk about acting. There is a strong supporting cast here. Led by the incredibly talented Sally Fields as William's divorced wife, the supporting cast does nothing but add to the believability of this movie. From Pierce Brosnan to Robert Prosky, to even a surprisingly talented child actor in Lisa Jakub, I was very impressed with the legitimacy of the acting in this movie, despite its comedic label. However, the true star here is the late great Robin Williams. In what is arguably his greatest achievement as an actor, Williams perfectly embodies two different characters in the same movie with Daniel Hillard and Mrs. Doubtfire. He even goes as far as to portray the two different personas in the same shot. The ability to portray two different characters simultaneously is one of the hardest things to do in the acting business, and Williams makes it look easy here. By himself he converted me not just to his character, but to the overall movie as well. His role alone is worth watching this movie again and again, and really makes you realize just how great of an actor Robin Williams was. He will be forever missed.
Now this isn't all about Robin Williams, and this movie is not without its blatant flaws. First and foremost, the movie takes an incredibly dated and now borderline offensive view to the idea of cross-dressing and transgenders. I can't really go into it without spoiling anything, however the approach of this movie was a less-than-admirable one. There is an awesome gay couple throughout the movie, though. Additionally, there are some obvious corners cut in the story, like a man who couldn't even cook spaghetti turning into a perfect upper-class housekeeper in seemingly two or three days. I mean you wanna talk about an extreme makeover....but the biggest fault is that, despite this movie being labeled as a comedy, there was a huge amount of time in which I was treating this movie like a drama. Which, in turn, led to me noticing the various plot holes of the movie. There just were not as many laughs as there should have been. But I will say that in the world of complaints, the complaint of there not being as many laughs as there should be is a far more positive complaint than saying that there was simply not enough laughs. Yes, there is a huge difference in the wording there. Point is, this movie is great. However, replace Robin Williams with Adam Sandler and leave everything else exactly how it is, and this movie is.....well......not so great. Actually.....it might be pretty bad. But, there are plenty of examples of movies that are great due to an actor's performance, and this is and always will be one of them. RIP Mr. Robin Williams.
The Critique: Robin Williams at his finest, Mrs. Doubtfire is a wonderfully flawed and enjoyable 125 minutes of film.
The Recommendation: The perfect movie to remember the greatness of Robin Williams by, if you haven't seen this already I would recommend it as a must-see.
Rewatchability: Moderately High
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
Edge of Tomorrow (2014): An officer finds himself caught in a time loop in a war with an alien race. His skills increase as he faces the same brutal combat scenarios, and his union with a Special Forces warrior gets him closer and closer to defeating the enemy.
You know, say what you want about Tom Cruise nowadays, but you cannot deny that he is a movie star. And he's a movie star because he's good at what he does. And while you can say he's starting to play it very safe with his selections, unlike last year's Oblivion, he actually involves himself in a pretty good movie here! Be weary of that fact and holding Edge of Tomorrow to it: Oblivion sucked. It was a well below average sci-fi movie. However, Edge of Tomorrow creates an interesting (even though it is in a million other sci-fi movies) dynamic with time travel, and then executes it in an enjoyable manner. While it is far from perfect, and the ending is very shallow and feels like a cop-out, the journey there is a a very, almost surprisingly, enjoyable one.
So this concept is overused. Right? Right. We all know it, the movie knows it, everyone knows it! However Edge of Tomorrow does a fantastic job of making the concept of reliving a day over and over feel fresh and unknown to us, the viewer. How? Through some absolutely fantastic editing. The editing throughout the 113 minute movie is about as good as it gets, and is the best part of this movie. Edge of Tomorrow uses short clips of the day to zip through it until we get to the part that's worth seeing. So, the viewer does not feel lost at any point as they jump from day to day. Ultimately, the movie stops showing days altogether, introducing an interesting aspect of whether or not Tom Cruise has actually lived through the scene before or not. This creates an interesting and fun journey, despite what is ultimately a very lackluster ending. While the ending really removes any chance of this movie being memorable, I still had a good time. I can't say anything about the ending because obviously because it would be a spoiler, I'll just say be weary of what is ultimately a very shallow and unsatisfying ending.
There's really only one person in this movie other than Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise is his usual Tom Cruise self, by the way. Nothing really to say about him other than the fact that he is a movie star. But let's talk about Emily Blunt. Emily Blunt is one of my favorite underground actresses in Hollywood, thanks to incredibly solid performances in movies like The Adjustment Bureau and Looper. She holds her own opposite Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow, just as she did Joseph Gordon Levitt in Looper and Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau. Oh ya, and she had a great role in The Devil Wears Prada too. This girl is good! And she was once again good here, providing the only other memorable performance besides that of Tom Cruise. I really hope she continues gaining more and more respect in Hollywood and continues to find herself in bigger movies. Oh, and Game of Thrones fans will be surprised at the random appearance from Noah Taylor, but he provides very little other than recognizability.
So, there really aren't many bad things to say about the movie other than the ending. It just doesn't have that punch that a great movie has. It was fun, no doubt, and the aliens are scary and well-done, and there's a lot of blood and violence for a PG-13, but at the end of the day, it's still a just a good movie. That's it. Worth the watch if you're a sci-fi fan, but other than that? You're time is better spent elsewhere if you want something reat. Go watch Back to the Future. Again.
The Critique: A fun and enjoyable sci-fi movie. While it likes the punch needed to make it memorable, I still had a good time.
The Recommendation: Sci-fi fans, Tom Cruise fans, and Emily Blunt fans should definitely check this out, however there isn't much else to sell here if you aren't in any of those categories.
The Verdict: 7/10 Good
22 Jump Street (2014): After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt and Jenko when they go deep undercover at a local college.
Ok this movie is freaking brilliant. Spoiler: this movie is the best comedy I've seen of 2014 thus far. End of discussion. Bye bye. See ya later. But I bet you had a feeling that was the case. And that's not why you're here. Actually...this movie just might be the funniest sequel ever. Fun fact. But you're here because you want to know why. Am I right? If I'm not then legitimate question: why are you here? You know what? Doesn't matter. We're going to discuss why this is the best comedy of 2014 thus far. Ready? Ok let's do this!
Here's how you know you have something good: when a movie can spoof the genre it's in (over-the-top buddy cop movies) and yet still be a fantastic movie within that genre, you're on to something. When you have a movie that knows it's a sequel of a movie that was totally needless to begin with, and has so much fun with this fact and yet is still a good movie, you have something special. Right from the beginning, this movie just lays down the parodies and the smart humor and doesn't let up all the way through the credits. Oh my God the credits had my CRYING they were so funny. But that's what the movie does! It realizes that it's stupid. It realizes that the original is unnecessary and thus this one is pointless as well. It realizes that its premise is ridiculous. And it has an indescribable amount of fun with itself. From Nick Offerman's constant gag of pointing out the similarities of this mission to what they did the first time, to all the references to Ice Cube's previous endeavors, to the running gay joke between Hill and Tatum, (which is really smart and sweet) this movie constantly lays out some of the funniest jokes I have ever seen. I have....wait, do I have only one problem with this movie? C'mon self, surely I have two problems with this movie. No I don't. Holy sh*t I just assumed I had a second problem.....man by that rule that means that this movie deserves a 10. Um....well the one problem I have with this movie is that it gets a little too ridiculous in the third act. Right after one of the funniest fist fights I have ever seen, this movie just got me shaking my head a little too much at its ridiculous and it did take me out of the movie. Briefly. Briefly! But then it came roaring back, and delivered one of the best credits sequence I have ever seen.
The acting was spot on. It's easy to say that oh! Jonah Hill is obviously a better actor than Channing Tatum. But in these movies their chemistry is so wonderful that they really are equals. Tatum lives up his persona as the dumb jock perfectly as Hill acts up his nerd side brilliantly as well. And Ice Cube has a far bigger role in this, and I am so glad that he does! He's brilliant as, well, himself in this, just like he was in the original. While I was saddened by the loss of Dave Franco (who is a very talented actor as well) he's made up for by the supporting cast in this movie. Also the cameos from start to finish are hilarious. Better than the original! Which is saying something given who showed up in the first one. The soundtrack was awesome (loved the use of M83's Midnight City but that's just cause I have a thing for M83 right now) and there was actually some pretty original editing tactics as well. You know what, let's just give the directors here some credit. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's previous achievements include 21 Jump Street, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and The Lego Movie. Ya. Decent list. And by decent I obviously mean awesome. Didn't think they could top The Lego Movie but guess what? They did. I cannot wait to see what they have up their sleeves next.
So I hope I have convinced you of the greatness of 22 Jump Street. If you haven't seen this movie, go see it. Please. It's gonna be tough for anyone to top this.
The Critique: The funniest movie of 2014. Almost perfect, 22 Jump Street is one of the best parody movies I have ever seen.
The Recommendation: I'll say it: this is a must see for anyone who likes to laugh during a movie. Go see it.
The Verdict: 9.5/10 Damn Near Perfect (I'm only giving this a 9.5 because c'mon, you can't give 22 Jump Street a 10 right? People would laugh at me!)
Oh right. This movie is 112 minutes long. Perfect length, in case you were wondering.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Light years from Earth, 26 years after being abducted Peter Quill finds himself the prime target of a manhunt after discovering an orb wanted by Ronan the Accuser.
Man, where do I even begin? Well, first off, this movie is freaking amazing. From spot-on acting to fantastically-timed-but-not-overwhelming comedy to a soundtrack selection that rivals that of a Martin Scorsese movie, Guardians of the Galaxy provides everything the Marvel universe needed to mix up its already successful movie-making formula. While it is not a perfect movie by any means, it does provide a tremendous amount of enjoyment from start to finish.
So, first off, the acting. Chris Pratt is having himself a year! From being the lead in The Lego Movie to leading Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt is padding his already spectacular resume with this movie. He is charming, charismatic, and witty at just the right moments, and just overall spectacular. Bradley Cooper puts in an equally spectacular performance as Rocket, as were it not for the credit he’s given at the start of the film I would have never guessed it was him. Sadly Zoe Saldana and David Bautista get pushed to the backseat somewhat, as they simply just cannot keep up with the talent that Pratt and Cooper bring to the table, but that's ok! Cooper and Pratt more than make up for it. Also let's take a moment to think about Vin Diesel's role in this. Ok moving on. The rest of the movie was also fantastic, however. I’d say the best word to describe Guardians of the Galaxy is unique. There are many different ideas in this movie that we simply haven’t seen in previous Marvel movies. The biggest example in my opinion is the soundtrack. In previous Marvel movies we may get a song or two but mostly it would be orchestral themes. In Guardians there is a fantastic and well thought out 70’s soundtrack underneath the movie. Some of the music was used with fantastic and hilarious results. Oh ya, this movie is hilarious. Fortunately it is not overwhelmingly hilarious. Guardians of the Galaxy has managed to find a thin middle ground that movies like Transformers have repeatedly tried and failed to hit: it was funny but not to the point that you lost site of what was going on. This impressive feat is what makes Guardians of the Galaxy my favorite Marvel movie outside of The Avengers.
Sadly though, it is far from perfect. Apart from the huge gaps of logic and the incredibly lax rules of space, (that scene was far and away my least favorite scene of the movie. You know what scene I'm talking about if you've seen it and to say anything would lead to major spoilers) and the movie was also too long. While it was only just over two hours long, putting it at about average length for a Marvel movie, there was a lot of fluff to make it such, particularly towards the end. There were a lot of plot points that were tied up that, frankly, I didn’t care about enough to wish to see tied up. And the end had a Man of Steel-style last fight, where you think oh! Here’s the last fight! And then no! It’s not! And then whoa there’s another one! And another! The movie just kept going on and on. But still, that said it was still an excellent film, on that I would not mind seeing again and again.
The Critique: another fantastic addition to the Marvel cinematic universe. Avengers 2 cannot come soon enough.
The Recommendation: even if you’re just watching The Avengers in these movies, give this one a shot. If you’re only going to see one summer blockbuster, see this one. A must-see to anyone who likes to have fun at the movies. Really just an overall must-see. Go see it! NOW. IF YOU DON'T SEE IT I'LL- oh. Sorry about that. Got a little carried away there. Where were we? Right.
The Verdict: 9/10 Awesome
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