Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Movies - In-Betweeners

I saw these movies. They were fine.Not awful, not great. I'll just say a few words about them. All of these are worth watching if it's in your wheelhouse.
A Million Ways to Die in the West had its funny moments. I didn't expect much. Might be a fun rental.

Godzilla was fun. Perhaps the most important part was "Let Them Fight," which helped to teach Realism in International Relations. I wouldn't mind a sequel.

Edge of Tomorrow was a good video game movies, as that's what's really happening. Tom Cruise is just restarting the game each time. It was fun to watch him make different decisions to progress further along.

A lot of people seemed to really like Chef. I found it to be OK. I guess it must have hit an emotional button with them that it didn't with me.

Snowpiercer was a different angle for a dystopian future. It had its moments, but over two hours is a long time to be in one location. There are parts that are a bit weird. A few big adjustments and this could have made my top ten list, I think.

I seem to remember liking The Skeleton Twins. I think there was good chemistry between Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, even though they played twins. But other than that, it was too forgettable.

If you want to know more about tank warfare in World War II, you might enjoy Fury. It was a decent movie.

Foxcatcher features three great performances from Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo. It's well worth watching just for those. I try to go into movies knowing as little as possible, so I avoided the true facts about this until after I had seen it. I wonder if I actually would have liked it more if I knew more about it.

I would have enjoyed Into the Woods much more if it hadn't been a musical. And that's because I didn't like any of the music. I can't recall a single melody. Most of it felt more like talking in tune than singing a song. It's also probably about twenty minutes too long. Johnny Depp truly finds his inner... pedophile.

I just saw the following two movies today. They aren't bad enough to be on the bottom list, but they weren't really good either.

 The paintings in Big Eyes are accurately described by an art critic as kitsch. I felt like Christophe Waltz's performance was as close to a representation of kitsch that an actor can portray. Unfortunately, I don't think it was on purpose. It was creepy, silly, and over-the-top. The movie itself? OK.

Unbroken is broken. I hoped that the Coen Brother's role in writing the script would elevate this beyond melodrama, but it doesn't. If you enjoy being uplifted by cliche, by all means go enjoy it. There's probably a good movie to be made about Zamperini. This isn't it. Eh - I probably would have put this on my bad list if I had more time to get angry about it.

I saw two more movies this year that don't get to go onto the good or bad list since they are re-releases. The first was Gone With the Wind. I wrote about it here, though I'm not sure I remembered to mention how it's SO DAMNED LONG.

A movie that would have made the top ten list if it had come out this year was Blazing Saddles. I saw it at the Paramount. If you've never seen a movie at the Paramount, you need to do yourself a favor and go see something in 2015. First, it's a beautiful art deco theater. Next, it begins with a news reel and cartoon, then old movie trailers. You can win prizes in the raffle (which comes with your ticket). And then you get to see a great movie with people who also love that movie. Best of all? Five dollars. Don't I repeat this every year?

Oh yeah - the movie? Blazing Saddles is still the funniest movie ever made.

2014 Movies - Just Plain Disappointment

These movies were just plain disappointing. There's lots to like in them. I would probably like to watch individual scenes of them someday. Eventually. I don't think I have a lot of new things to say about them. Most of what I'm going to say I've seen repeated online.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was an advertisement for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and all of the spinoffs. The thing is, that works with comic books because you have a new one every month. It works with TV shows (Mork on Happy Days) because you have a new episode every week. But with a movie? You get one every other year at the most. So it has to be a REALLY good movie in order to include all of that. It wasn't.

As a teacher, I think I have a good idea of how Electro's origin was written. The people who were supposed to do it forgot that it was due. So they got drunk and/or high instead. So someone came up with idea of him being bitten by a radioactive electric eel. They thought that was hilarious, wrote in down in a joke email that they pretended to send. They then were all awoken the next morning by a call from the person in charge wanting to know what their idea was, seeing how it should have been finished. They panicked and sent the email. The douches in charge didn't notice how stupid it was, so they accepted it. I'm pretty sure I've received essays written the same way, though they were probably smarter.

I think I've figured out part of what I don't like about the Amazing Spider-Man movies. On one hand, they finally captured the humor and banter of the character. But they haven't figured out the heroism. In the comic books, every once in a while (quite often these days), someone from the future comes back and mentions what a great hero Spidey turned out to be. Most of the characters do a double take, thinking or even saying, "This guy? The creepy guy who hangs from the ceiling, covers his whole face, and makes stupid jokes? I doubt it." That's the attitude these movie makers have. But for a few of the heroes - the ones who know him best, such as the Fantastic Four and Captain America - will nod and understand that he is a great hero. And the audience knows. We nod along with them. We don't in these movies.

I loved The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I loved each movie more than the last. I liked The Hobbit movies less and less. Things that worked in the first three - Legolas defies the laws of physics - didn't work in these.

I'm definitely not the first person to state that these three movies could have been cut down into one great movie. Perhaps, if we're lucky, Topher Grace will do that for us someday. If it were me, though? I would probably cut almost all of third movie. I would cut the entire Battle of the Five Armies. The problem with this movie is that it's called The Battle of the Five Armies. I think I would only include the first and last few minutes. Maybe you could but the battle down into a quick five minute montage of important plot points, though I don't think that's even necessary.

I made small plans to reread The Hobbit when the movies were officially announced. None of the three really pushed me to finally go ahead and do so. Maybe I'll get around to it after I watch a super-edit of the three movies.

There's at least one good thing that came out of Rosewater. John Oliver got to host The Daily Show while Jon Stewart was making it, and that led to his HBO gig.

We had been hearing about this movie since even before then, and it sounded like a great idea for a movie. I wonder if directing Rosewater was too "serious" of a job for Stewart. It felt like he wanted to get his comedic side out of the way.

The thing that really made this movie disappointing was the last act, not because it was bad but because it was good. Once we start to find out what else was going on while Bahari was in prison, the movie takes on a new life. It felt like that's where the movie should have really begun.

Ready for the surprise about Wish I Was Here? Kate Hudson isn't the bad part about it.

I really liked Garden State and I still enjoy sitting through episodes of Scrubs. I'll plug that into Netflix while I'm doing other things and let it play in the background. So I really wanted to like Wish I Was Here. The problem is that it wanted to take the quirk from Garden State that often felt natural, but it felt forced. I guess it's much like how Legolas get to slay the Oliphaunt and ride down its trunk, but he doesn't get to climb a falling bridge. Natalie Portman gets to make silly sounds, but Josh Gad doesn't get to wear a space suit.

Next - the in-betweener movies.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Movies - You have to start somewhere!

41 movies this year (with still a day to catch another or two). Not the most, but much better than 23 from last year. Two of those 41 don't count, but I'll get to those later. These are the worst movies of 2014.

Good news for me. Much like 2013, there weren't any movies that I absolutely hated. But these bottom three are movies that I wish I'd skipped.

Starting at the very bottom is Under the Skin. I didn't get it. I had no idea what was going on for most of it. I read a review of this after I saw it from someone who liked it. I feel like we saw totally different movies. He described things that I would have genuinely liked to have seen. Just... blah.

Noah had very few redeeming qualities. But it's starting with a story that's pretty dumb to begin with. Probably my favorite thing about Noah were a couple comments I read on various social media sites. The second time I saw basically the same comment, I copy/pasted it. "I didnt' see it because I heard it wasn't historically acurate."  That's funny. The big creature things were cool. I might want to see a movie about those things.

Sin City was by far my favorite movie of 2005. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For was just about my least favorite this year. Part of that has to do with my expectations following the first. But the rest is that it just doesn't work. It's bland in the characters, story, and most disappointingly, the visuals. Such a shame.

So those are the only three movies that deserve the bottom. Next I'll get to four movies that I want to like, but I also want to include on this list. They were the four most frustrating of 2014.