Friday, May 29, 2015

In Theaters Now - 5/29/15





(new releases in green)

Let Us Prey       Grade: A  (available on Video on Demand)

Ex Machina        Grade: A

While We're Young        Grade: A-

The Avengers: Age of Ultron        Grade: B+

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared       Grade: B+

Slow West        Grade: B+   (also available on Video on Demand)

Tomorrowland        Grade: C

The Divergent Series: Insurgent        Grade: C

Clouds of Sils Maria        Grade: C

Hot Pursuit        Grade: D

San Andreas        Grade: D

Dark Star:  H.R. Giger's World       Grade: D





Additional Films Not Reviewed:
About Elly
The Age of Adaline
Aloha
The Apu Trilogy
Cinderella
Dior and I
Far From the Madding Crowd
Furious 7
Get Hard
Home
In the Name of My Daughter
Iris
Lambert and Stamp
Mad Max: Fury Road
Monkey Kingdom
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Poltergeist
Pitch Perfect 2
Saint Laurent
Sunshine Superman
Woman in Gold

San Andreas

 

It's been a pretty terrible year for wide theatrical releases.  Three weeks ago I suffered through Hot Pursuit.  Last week I toughed it out through Tomorrowland.  And this week, my valuable time was wasted yet again, and it's San Andreas' fault (pun intended.)  What a disaster ... and not just the natural kind!  (pun intended again.)

Remember all those lame natural disaster movies of the 90's like Twister, Volcano, Dante's Peak, and then a decade later, The Day After Tomorrow?  Yeah, well this one's worse.  Not only do we have to suffer through all the requisite cliche characters, like the flawed hero (Dwayne Johnson) separated from his hot wife (Carla Gugino) and beautiful daughter (Alexandra Daddario), who now live with his wife's new fiance, the ultra rich but of course cowardly Ioan Gruffudd, but this time the acting and dialogue are atrocious!  Johnson, Gugino, and Daddario all turn in performances barely worthy of Sharknado.  I can't remember another movie where I groaned after every single line of dialogue. 

From start to finish it's an extremely straightforward, dull disaster film suitable only for the brainless, yet with two baffling mysteries.  How is Lost's Carlton Cuse responsible for the screenplay?  And why is Paul Giamatti in this?  I hope the paycheck was good for both of them, because they're both way too talented for this Hollywood summer schlockbuster.

Grade: D

Who is this movie for?  Not me.  And hopefully not you.  Do yourself a favor and rewatch World War Z which does a lot of the same type of scenes about a million times better.

Friday, May 22, 2015

In Theaters Now - 5/22/15



(new releases in green)

Ex Machina        Grade: A

Good Kill        Grade: A  (also available on Video on Demand)

While We're Young        Grade: A-

Wild Tales       Grade: A-

The Avengers: Age of Ultron        Grade: B+

Unfriended       Grade: B+

Slow West        Grade: B+  (also available on Video on Demand)

Tomorrowland       Grade: C

The Divergent Series: Insurgent        Grade: C

Clouds of Sils Maria        Grade: C

Hot Pursuit        Grade: D

The Salt of the Earth        Grade: D-





Additional Films Not Reviewed:
About Elly
The Age of Adaline
The Apu Trilogy
Brotherly Love
Cinderella
Dior and I
Far From the Madding Crowd
Furious 7
Get Hard
Home
In the Name of My Daughter
Iris
Lambert and Stamp
Mad Max: Fury Road
Monkey Kingdom
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Poltergeist
Pitch Perfect 2
Saint Laurent
Where Hope Grows
Woman in Gold

Tomorrowland


This one's been on my radar for quite some time.  I've been looking forward to it both as a life long fan of Walt Disney World and a fan of George Clooney.  Unfortunately neither of those reasons are good enough to save this marvelous mess.

Perhaps I'm just not the target demographic.  Perhaps when I was young I'd have been able to appreciate this movie for all its hope and optimism for the future which lies in the hands of our children, the dreamers.  But as an adult with dreams long crushed, I found all of this movie's positive messages for our troubled world to be forced and phony.  And that aside, it's still just a muddled mess that seems better suited as a 15 minute preshow for a ride at Tomorrowland in Walt Disney World, rather than a feature length summer blockbuster.  And this is a shame, because I have to give Disney credit for spending a boat load o' dough on a non-Marvel comic franchise, non-Star Wars, non-animated, original story.  This was a risk that just didn't turn out and I expect will likely flop, at least relative to Disney's expectations.  And that'll mean we can expect only Marvel comic, Star Wars, and animated franchise films to come.

Grade: C

Who is this movie for?  Your kids may very well enjoy it.  I really don't know.  All I can tell you is that I didn't.  It's 2 hours and 10 minutes and I was bored after 15.  And it's safe to say the guy snoring loudly behind me was too.  (True story.)

Friday, May 15, 2015

In Theaters Now - 5/15/15



(new releases in green)

Every Secret Thing       Grade: A   (also available on Video on Demand)

Ex Machina        Grade: A

While We're Young        Grade: A-

Welcome to Me        Grade: A-   (also available on Video on Demand)

Wild Tales        Grade: A-

The Avengers: Age of Ultron        Grade: B+

The D Train        Grade: B+

Unfriended       Grade: B+

The Divergent Series: Insurgent        Grade: C

Clouds of Sils Maria        Grade: C

Hot Pursuit        Grade: D

The Salt of the Earth       Grade: D-





Additional Films Not Reviewed:
About Elly
The Age of Adaline
Brotherly Love
Cinderella
Danny Collins
Dior and I
Far From the Madding Crowd
Felix and Meira
Furious 7
Get Hard
Home
I am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story  (also available on Video on Demand)
Iris
Little Boy
The Longest Ride
Mad Max: Fury Road
Monkey Kingdom
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Pitch Perfect 2
The Water Diviner
Where Hope Grows
Woman in Gold

Friday, May 8, 2015

In Theaters Now - 5/8/15



(new releases in green)

Ex Machina        Grade: A

While We're Young        Grade: A-

Welcome to Me        Grade: A-  (also available on Video on Demand)

Wild Tales       Grade: A-

Maggie       Grade: A-  (also available on Video on Demand)

5 Flights Up       Grade: A-  (also available on Video on Demand)

Kingsman: The Secret Service        Grade: B+


The Avengers: Age of Ultron        Grade: B+

The D Train        Grade: B+

Unfriended        Grade: B+

The Divergent Series: Insurgent        Grade: C

Clouds of Sils Maria        Grade: C

Hot Pursuit       Grade: D





Additional Films Not Reviewed:
About Elly
The Age of Adaline
Brotherly Love
Cinderella
Danny Collins
Dior and I
Far From the Madding Crowd
Felix and Meira
Furious 7
Get Hard
Home
Little Boy
The Longest Ride
Monkey Kingdom
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
The Water Diviner
Woman in Gold

Maggie



The zombie apocalypse has come.  What do you do when a loved one is bitten by a zombie and you're waiting for her to turn in several weeks?  This virtually action-less zombie entry makes its mark by being the opposite of all other zombie films.  Its strength is in its gritty and bleak but beautiful cinematography, and in its heartfelt, quiet performances by Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Abigail Breslin.

Grade: A-

Who is this movie for?  If you're looking for 28 Days Later, The Walking Dead, or another George Romero, you'll probably be bored.  But if you're open to a quiet, bleak, anti-zombie zombie film then you should see it now in limited release in theaters or on Video on Demand.

5 Flights Up



Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton co-star (and do I really need to say anything more than that to get you to watch this?) as a couple who have lived in a fifth floor walk-up in Brooklyn for 40 years.  But now in the golden years, they feel it's time to plan for the future, sell their place, and move somewhere where climbing those stairs won't become an issue.  But leaving their beloved home isn't easy, nor is selling it via an open house (run by realtor Cynthia Nixon), and buying a new place in the crazy city called New York. 

Grade: A-

Who is this movie for?  It's a really likeable film with a great cast that all takes place in a day or so.  And yes, Morgan Freeman does some voiceover narration.  So yes, you should see it this weekend in limited release in theaters or at home on Video on Demand.

The D Train



Jack Black stars as an everyman husband and father who volunteers as chairman of his high school reunion committee.  And for his upcoming 20th year reunion he sets off on a goal to get one of the old cool kids (James Marsden) to show in order to improve attendance.

The film premiered at Sundance in January and is the kind of film I thoroughly enjoy in a festival environment.  It's not laugh out loud funny, but it's original and the story unfolds in a fairly unpredictable way.  It's perfect for the indie / festival audience, but for some reason it's getting a wide release and I just don't think mainstream audiences are going to see it or even like it that much.  It didn't seem to play too well at the advance screening I was at.  Though I really enjoyed it.

Grade: B+

Who is this movie for?  It's great for the festival / indie crowd, and if you like those films and see it with the right audience at an art house theater, or down the road on VOD, I do think you'll enjoy it.

Hot Pursuit


I love Reese Witherspoon just as much as the next guy or girl.  She's America's sweetheart, right?  But for everything she did great last year, starring in and producing Wild, starring in The Good Lie, appearing in Inherent Vice, and producing Gone Girl, she deserves to have it all taken away for choosing to be in this turd of a "comedy".  (I use comedy in quotation marks because it's so completely unfunny.)  It's the sort of generic, lame gal-pal Hollywood Assembly Line crap that gives mainstream Hollywood a bad name.  Isn't it enough that I suffered through Ride Along last year and The Heat the year before that?  And I don't care for the 21 Jump Street reboot franchise either, but they're comedy gold compared to this.  Quite frankly, those responsible for the script should be banned from ever "writing" again.  And whatever executives greenlit it should be escorted out of the building by security. 

Grade: D

Who is this movie for?  It's not funny. It's not original. It's not charming.  And yes, Sofia Vergara is hot, but really only in a tranny kind of way.  Look, if you loved director Anne Fletcher's last lame comedy, The Guilt Trip, or some of her other winners like The Proposal, 27 Dresses, and Step Up, then you just may enjoy this one.  Me?  I want my 87 minutes back.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Playing It Cool


It's been a great year for fresh, fun romantic comedies.  I noted a few in my Tribeca Film Festival post (that aren't available yet) but here's one you can see right now on VOD and in limited release in theaters.  And while I wouldn't say any of these reinvent the genre, they are still terrific, smooth, enjoyable watches with a lot of great talent.  This one features Chris Evans and Michelle Monaghan in the lead, and a slew of familiar faces in support (including Topher Grace, Aubrey Plaza, and Luke Wilson).  See it.  It'll put you in a good mood.

Playing it Cool is now available on Video on Demand and will be in limited release in theaters beginning Friday.

Grade: A-

Who is this movie for?  It's comfort food for those just looking to feel good.  It's hardly groundbreaking, but is it wrong to say I enjoyed it more than Evans' other small film in theaters now?  Perhaps you've heard of it.  The Avengers: Age of Ultron?

Friday, May 1, 2015

In Theaters Now - 5/1/15



(new releases in green)

Ex Machina       Grade: A

While We're Young       Grade: A-

True Story      Grade: A-

Wild Tales      Grade: A-

Kingsman: The Secret Service       Grade: B+


The Avengers: Age of Ultron       Grade: B+

Unfriended      Grade: B+

What We Do in the Shadows       Grade: B

The Divergent Series: Insurgent       Grade: C

Clouds of Sils Maria       Grade: C




Additional Films Not Reviewed:
The Age of Adaline
Brotherly Love
Cinderella
Danny Collins
Dior and I
Felix and Meira
Furious 7
Get Hard
Grey Gardens
Home
Little Boy
The Longest Ride
The Mafia Kills Only in Summer
Monkey Kingdom
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
The Water Diviner
Woman in Gold

The Avengers: Age of Ultron


Let me begin this post by saying that reviewing Marvel comic films is not why I created this blog four and a half years ago.  This is not because I'm too indie for blockbusters, or because I don't like blockbusters.  I do like them (though I do often prefer indie films.)  It's just that my main reason for maintaining this blog is to highlight movies you haven't heard about that you should see (since I see an awful lot of movies.)  Truthfully any critic reviewing The Avengers: Age of Ultron is pretty much wasting their own time (and yours by reading it) because you already know if you're going to like this movie or not.  If you think you will, you will.  And if you think you won't, you won't.  But, for the record, I enjoyed it throughout, though I wasn't blown away.

For me, the best thing this second Avengers film has going for it is the camaraderie of the talented, likeable, and huge (and growing) ensemble cast.  I can't imagine anyone not getting at least somewhat charmed by the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Scarlett Johansson exchanging barbs.  There's an undeniable chemistry amongst them and, for me, the Avengers is at its best when it slows down and allows these actors to do what they do best.  Honestly, the extended action scenes, while technically unbelievable, tend to drag on and bore me.  It's the cast that keeps me interested and coming back for more.  And James Spader's voicing of the baddie du jour, Ultron, was the perfect addition.

On the other hand, this installment, as with many of its predecessors, suffers from a pretty formulaic and overdone story arc.  In short, a new bad guy arises, tries to destroy the world, and ... spoiler alert ... ultimately the world does not actually get destroyed (which would thereby be the end of this franchise.)  No, that would never happen.  Instead, good battles evil for many rounds, all the while exchanging reasonably funny one-liners (though not as funny as in the first Avengers).  This is, in essence, just more of the same.  If you like that, you'll be quite pleased.  If you're hoping for something groundbreaking or unexpected, you better put your expectations in check.  This is not that needle in the Marvel haystack.  It's merely a slightly above average two hour and 20 minute Marvel comic movie with no expense spared to make it appeal to a wide audience and please them.  Nothing more.  The first Avengers was better.  And Captain America: Winter Soldier was much more my type of movie.  But this one is fun.  And fun is good too.

Grade: B+

Who is this movie for?  As I said before, you already know if this movie is for you.  If you love Marvel comic movies, you're gonna love it.  If you don't, you won't.  But make no mistake, it's gonna do monster green that even makes the Hulk look small in comparison.