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.
The Amazing Spider-man 2 opens our Summer Blockbuster Season (my second favorite season of the year after football season (winter comes in last)). For you baseball fans ASM2 has an easy analogy, its that fat dude that swings as hard as he can every time hes up to bat. When he connects its a home run and really great, but he ends up striking out more than anyone else on the team. ASM2 is great in parts: when Spider-man fights Electro, swinging through the city and with an occasional laugh out loud moment. But boy does it swing and miss too. The middle is just boring. Your girlfriend might enjoy the hour and a half of romantic drama and family struggles, but probably not b/c it isn’t very well done. I’m going to blame the director, b/c if everybody’s acting is bad then the fault lies with him and not the individuals. The script, or more accurately the story, doesn’t help either. Everything is so line up, uncreative, and convenient; there’s a “just so happens” moment every few minutes. It “just so happens” Peter’s dad was working on this special project, it “just so happens” Gwen can reset the system, it “just so happens” Harry gets sick 30 years before his father. Its like the movie was written by 15 different focus groups that each wanted to make their part the most dramatic, emotional and polished. I feel like I’m being a bit to harsh, b/c there are some home runs, but they did so little with so much. If you took your grandmother’s perfectly good recipe for apple pie and changed this, and tweaked that, and added some ingredients you thought would be better, you’d probably end up with edible cookies, but you know they aren’t going to be as good as grandma’s. That’s ASM2, nerdy, teenage, overwhelmed but genuine Peter Parker has been changed and tweaked to 2014’s hip, to grown up for his age and far less of a interesting character, and that stretches over the whole movie. Edible, but not as satisfying as the recipe that made it good in the first place. For my recommendation: the older you are the less likely you’re going to be glad you bought a ticket. No cussing, no sex, bloodless/near deathless violence, so the kids are safe.
Calling the movie Godzilla is misleading. Godzilla is a bit player in his own movie, not even enough screen time to be a supporting actor. That will be the closest I get to spoiler, but it sums up everything nicely when you also know that when the camera is on the big lizard you are watching a great movie, and when its not you’re not missing anything at all. The acting is disappointing. I say disappointing instead of bad, b/c it isn’t ever eye rolling bad, Bryan Cranston was so cool in Breaking Bad but is just regular here, and there is a lot invested in the male and female leads (they are both in Avengers 2, they need to be good). I’d like to mention the good/great before I complain a little more: the idea is good, the CGI is great. Without spoiling anymore, the idea behind the story is a worthwhile pursuit. Any monster action sequence or wreckage scene is fantastic, in both size and execution. The problem is when Godzilla isn’t on the screen its pretty boring. I talked with my friends about Jaws, Jurassic Park and other movies where the “star,” who people really came to see, isn’t on the screen that much. The difference is that those movies are entertaining while anticipation builds, Godzilla isn’t. The non-Godzilla characters you’ve seen 100s of times, and you’ve seen it done better. To safe, to lazy. Can’t give it a glowing recommendation. Kids will like it better than teenagers, teenagers better than husbands, husbands better than wives. No cursing, no blood, nothing to deter from bringing the kids. (Just be prepared to set up the couch cushions and have a wrestling match/playfest when you get home.)
One day I’ll review a movie that isn’t a summer/popcorn/action flix, but that day is not today. X-Men: Days of Future Past is pretty good. Its biggest problem is that it was written for me, but probably not for you. There is a lot of comic book in these characters, you either buy in and suspend belief, or you don’t. But, if you’re not a believer already then you’re not going to see it anyway. My fellow geeks will enjoy it. It is evenly paced, the dialogue is never tripe and rarely overly fluffy, the acting is even, rarely climbing high or dipping low, and in my comic book imbued the story holds together. I liked the action scenes, they were frequent and engaging. Like I said, its pretty good. Just a bit far out there and left to much on the plate (its over 2 hours long, but there is a lot of content and character development that went untouched or breezed by). Best three movies of the year so far are Lego, Captain America and X-Men in some order. I think they cuss twice, comic book violence (just about bloodless) throughout and they show us Wolverine’s self-healing butt, gotta make your own call for your kids. If it rains tomorrow definitely go see it, same if you’re a fan of this kind of movie.
I could see how you could make an argument that Edge of Tomorrow is the best movie, so far, of this blockbuster season. X-Men would be the other option. To be fair, this season doesn’t really have a showstopper, but I haven’t seen a complete dud yet either. Anyway, if you like Tom Cruise movies you’ll really enjoy this one. He and Emily Blunt do a good job together, and they make up about 90% of the acting. The tech looks good, the CGI doesn’t have any problems and the story is average sy-fy bollocks, but it gets the job done. The action has high points and is always good enough, and is consistent and spread evenly. Overall EoT is an enjoyable experience. Generally, men and action fans would like it best, but I don’t think there is any reason that wives and girlfriends wouldn’t enjoy it as well. If you’ve only got time for one movie I guess X-Men is still the pick, but EoT is pretty good too. They fight a lot, but it isn’t incredibly bloody, and I don’t remember any cussing, (but that could be that I had just watched Neighbors so any cussing in EoT was overshadowed) but the kids would enjoy X-Men and probably Godzilla better.
Neighbors is exactly the kind of movie you think it is. Its funny and raunchy. They cuss a lot and make immature jokes, but if you like that kind of thing then this movie is great. Neighbors does comedy the same way action movies to action, with set pieces, putting the characters in a scene that makes the laughs easy. Every comedy scene goes on a little longer and pushes a little further than other comedies do. The acting is fine, all the leads fit their part well. And it is funny, I laughed out loud several times. So the recommendation comes down to your personal preference. There is lots of cursing, some boobs and a butt, parties and general frat boy jokes. If you didn’t like The Hangover then you won’t like this.
22 Jump Street is the funniest movie I’ve seen in a long time. The theater erupted in laughter throughout. The laughs are consistent, frequent and rarely does any one scene end without at least a chuckle. Its funny, its also dumb, and immature, but rarely tasteless or gross. If you’re an intellectual movie snob, or just to grown up to laugh at grownups acting childish, then you won’t enjoy it, but those are the only two reasons I can think of you won’t like it. The acting is as good as it needs to be, same with the story, effects, etc. I will say that Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill could not be more perfectly cast. They rotate who plays the straight man, and play a perfect mismatched pair. The odd couple meets Abbott and Costello. Edge of Tomorrow and X-Men are more suited to the ‘gotta see it in a theater’ action movie role, but 22 Jump Street is the best movie I’ve seen this summer. They do cuss, not as much as an R rated comedy like Hangover or Neighbors, but more than a little. Don’t take your middle schoolers.
Did you like the first How to Train Your Dragon? If so, you’ll like the second one. More of the same. I don’t think 2 is as good as 1 was though. The first was more about the dragon, the second relies on the humans to carry the plot and make the jokes. 2 also hits just about every story clique’ there is. Now I know that nobody comes up with a wholly original story anymore, but 2 has about six well known tropes one right after the other. The animation is good. The voice acting is good. HtTYD2 isn’t a bad movie at all, even though I’ve mostly been negative. Its just not as good as Shrek, Lego Movie, or the first Ice Age. Your kids might love it. You probably won’t do more than like it