Beauty and the Beast is great. Take the kids, take the spouse, take the neighbor’s kids, it’s really good. It is 99% of the best they could possibly have done with the live action remake. It’s an instant classic and has to be seen. Theater or top of the rent list (since you may not make it in time to the theater).
Ghost in the Shell was a lot better than I thought it would be, but I went in with really low expectations. I don’t think older people will like it, but there is a possibility that the younger crowd might (don’t go to the theater, use this to decide if you rent). If you like the anime source material than you’ve already seen it and don’t need this review.
The Great Wall is probably out of a theater near you already, but as far as a rental goes you could do worse. The Great Wall was also better than I thought it would be, but, again, I had low expectations. It has a bit of a vibe like the good Chinese movies that pop up every now and then, meaning it is more of a Chinese movie with a couple of Western actors, than a Western movie with a lot of Chinese extras. Not a must see, but I’m very pleased that I did see it.
I’ll keep this shorter than Derek Zoolander’s attention span (zing!). Zoolander 2 is not good. Not among the worst movies ever, but ultimately not funny. I’m a big fan of the original, and the call backs and characters kept me interested for a while, but after about an hour I was just wishing it would hurry up and get over with so I could say I finished it. The acting, writing, directing and story are exactly what you expect, not the worst ever, but peaking at average.
The only reason to see Zoolander 2 is if you watched the original so much that you feel you owe it to them (that was me). The saddest part is the same part that was sad about Anchorman 2; I still quote the original to this day, but won’t remember a single line from the sequel.
I remember back like 10 or 15 years ago when the movie Phone Booth came out the question that got asked was ‘how will they make a movie that takes place almost exclusively in a phone booth interesting for an hour and a half plus?’ Seemed like a valid question at the time, but ultimately it was short sighted. Story telling can be good or bad no matter the stage, and The Martian is good. Really, there is plenty going on back on earth, so its not just Matt Daemon talking to a camera for 2 hours. I watched it with Jamey and with about 20 minutes left I said to him that they had actually made it believable. You buy it. We’ll credit the writers for that, but will detract from them for the obviously embedded science explanations for all of us dumb lay people. The acting sometimes dips below good, and the movie is too polished for you to forget that you’re watching an entertainment property. However, I was sweating by the end of it. You want him to be ok, you’re invested. I’m glad I watched it, but it is not so good that I’m making plans to watch it again. I’ll see it on TBS in a few years.
Kids are pretty safe. They cuss a few times to get a PG-13 rating.
From a critical stand point the only bad thing I have about Straight Outta Compton is that the acting is atrocious for the first third of the movie. The good news is that it moves from atrocious to bad, then to passable but spotty by the end. Its like they filmed it from start to finish and the guys took lessons along the way. But dang, its a good movie. Its so good it made me feel uncomfortable. There is racial stuff, and police brutality, which contribute to the tension, but what really made me hit pause and take a break was the story of this group of friends that had the world dead set against them, and their struggles with themselves and their culture. Seriously, I hit pause and took a 20 minute break and fixed a chair to unwind a little bit. SOC is that engrossing. You may not be quite as wrapped up as I was; I can’t watch 3 episodes of the Office in a row, or the auditions on American Idol b/c it hurts me to watch people struggle.
SOC is like watching a revolution. Either the revolution in the music or the culture would be enough for the movie, but it manages to deftly fit both in. I enjoyed it, and it is not a movie I will soon forget.
They cuss a lot. When they’re singing they use the F word like a comma. I’m sure the language is perfectly accurate to the retelling of the story, but if you’re sensitive to such the cursing will be to much for you.
Y’all know I love comic book movies, so forgive me if I gush. Deadpool is great. It is also immature, violent, gawdy, profane and full of itself. So, the kid, the prankster and the rebel in me enjoyed it. You will not like it if you don’t have at least a passing fondness for immaturity, vulgarity or poop jokes. Now, Deadpool is not the most violent movie most of us will watch this year, and it has less cussing than your average HBO show, but the basis of the character is a elementary, juvenile fun. Its one liners and zingers, its braggadocios and conceited. I liked it a lot, I want to watch it again. This is fair warning. The acting is good, the writing deserves an Oscar, and the special effects are spot on. It coulda used another fight scene, but the ones it has are near perfect. If you’re a rebellious kid like me, Deadpool is a superior movie. If your taste are more grown up and sophisticated, you’ll still laugh at some of it, but won’t enjoy it as a whole. Don’t take the young ones.
They got summer started early in the movie theater with Captain America. No problem, except for my wallet. Anyway, Captain America: The Winter Solider is great, not quite Avengers level, of course, but as good as Iron Man and better than the last Thor. I compare it to other Marvel movies for obvious reasons, but a more apt comparison would be to Mission Impossible (the latest one). I wish they would have went in more of a Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan or Jason Bourne direction, but you can certainly do worse in the action/spy entertainment department than the MI franchise. Chris Evans does a fantastic job as Cap, even keeled an believable. The acting overall is good, only dipping when we’re focused on the people that got the job b/c of their looks. But ‘looks’ is something this movie has plenty of; explosions, car chases, hand to hand fights. The action is properly paced, and even though it isn’t “nonstop” I didn’t leave feeling there should have been more. If you can suspend disbelief and buy into the superhero movies then you are going to have a great time with this one. I’d say go see it in the theater, b/c 1. you probably haven’t been in a while, 2. that action and spectacle can’t be replicated at home, 3. I really want them to keep making these things and money talks. You can take the kids; no sex, only glimpses of blood or injured people, plenty of fighting, but nothing they aren’t pretending to do already. Enjoy the season!
Saw a couple of movies on Friday, starting with Oculus. I’m not going to say I didn’t like it, but I have a feeling that the reason I’m not is my very low threshold for being entertained by a movie. They didn’t spend a lot of money making it. That criticism isn’t about the budget, you can just tell that everything was done on the cheap: no name actors, few locations, CGI shortcuts. Its just not special. With those criticism deservedly leveled I will say that it is a bit creepy, the idea is good and they did well with it for what it was (its like 60 minutes worth of potential stretched out to 100 minutes). I guess the best way to describe Oculus would be that it would be a really good made for TV movie; good TV length, good TV acting, good TV CGI and budget. No reason to go see it in the theater unless you are serious about your scary movie intake (in which case you’ve probably already gone).
Its almost unfair for me to review God’s Not Dead. I watch movies for their entertainment value, while entertainment is only a secondary concern in GND. In any case, GND is on the second shelf of Christian movies, up there with Facing the Giants and above the likes of Fireproof (with the production values of Passion of the Christ giving it the sole place on the top shelf). Yes it’s cheesy, yes it’s predictable, yes the acting is suspect and yes the story is a bit pretentious, but that is par for the course. It is honest, and if the story is a bit pretentious I could say the opposite about the actors and director. I never rolled my eyes and never got the impression that anyone except maybe Hercules didn’t genuinely want to be there. GND is made for Christians, and I wouldn’t feel good taking a non-Christian, b/c it doesn’t play out like real life enough to be convincing, but if you already believe then it will reaffirm what you already think. As strictly a movie I can’t recommend it, as a Christian pick-me-up then you can’t do much better. The only reason to go see it in the theater is if you want to use your dollars to support these sort of efforts. Its fine for the kids, obviously.