Friday, May 27, 2016

In Theaters Now - 5/27/16



(new releases in green)

Additional Films Not Reviewed:

  • The Angry Birds Movie
  • Barbershop: The Next Cut
  • The Darkness
  • The Huntsman: Winter's War
  • Keanu
  • Mother's Day
  • Zootopia




Weiner


My favorite documentaries are the ones about people (as opposed to issues).  I love docs about interesting people who lead interesting lives.  And if you get full participation from the subject, even better.

You probably have some awareness of Anthony Weiner, the congressman who shared his wiener via text.  But whatever your knowledge or opinion of him, this is one hell of an interesting watch, as a fly on the wall while he runs for Mayor of New York, all the while doing damage control as the scandal breaks.  Some may find him deeply disturbed, and others may find him sympathetic.  But regardless, you'll be glued to it.

Grade: A

Who is this movie for?  It's one of my favorite movies of the year so far and I think most adults will thoroughly enjoy it too.

X-Men: Apocalypse


Comic book fans can rejoice, as you don't have to wait long after seeing Captain America: Civil War for an even better Marvel comic movie.  X-Men Apocalypse is the third entry in the younger X-Men series, following X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past.  And, as with those two, they clearly spared no expense to make an entertaining, action packed film with a terrific (and quite large) ensemble cast.  Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy alone would be enough to carry any film.  But with this franchise you also get Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Oscar Isaac, and Evan Peters who steals the film yet again as Quicksilver.  I can't say this one blew me away.  In fact it may be the weakest of the trilogy.  But it's still quite entertaining, and in my opinion better than Captain America: Civil War.  The stakes are higher, the cast is (debatably) better, and it's more fun.

Grade: B+

Who is this movie for?   Fans of the X-Men will surely enjoy it.  It opens on 5/27 and you should go see it so they make another one with Fassbender and McAvoy (and hopefully Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as well.)

Alice Through the Looking Glass


To me, the Johnny Depp led Alice in Wonderland from 2010 was nothing more than an unnecessary attempt at summer blockbuster eye candy.  The original Disney animated film from 1951 is all we need.  But, there's no denying that the 2010 update looked great and boasted a great cast.  Nevertheless, I was quite surprised in my research to find out that film is one of only 25 films to ever gross above $1 Billion.  (It's number 23.)  And Johnny Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean films actually take two other spots in the top 25.  Very interesting.

Now, 6 years later, we have an equally unnecessary sequel.  And once again, you can't deny how good it looks.  It always amazes me what you can do with technology (and hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of people.)  It's a pretty spectacular film to look at.  Nevertheless, that eye candy wears off quickly for me, and I found myself struggling to stay awake.  Yet again, this is just another big budget Spring/Summer entry that looks good, but has very little to offer otherwise.

Grade: B

Who is this movie for?  It's fine and likeable enough to take your kids to see it.  But Johnny Depp just gets creepier and creepier.  He makes Michael Jackson (in his craziest days) seem normal.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

In Theaters Now - 5/20/16



(new releases in green)
  • The Meddler      Grade: A
  • Sing Street      Grade: A
  • Green Room      Grade: A-
  • Money Monster      Grade: A-
  • The Man Who Knew Infinity    Grade: A-
  • Love and Friendship      Grade: B+
  • Eye in the Sky     Grade: B+
  • Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising      Grade: B
  • Captain America: Civil War     Grade: B
  • The Nice Guys      Grade B
  • The Boss      Grade: B-
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2    Grade: B-
  • The Jungle Book      Grade: C+
  • A Bigger Splash      Grade: C
  • Being Charlie      Grade: C
  • High-Rise      Grade: D

Additional Films Not Reviewed:

  • The Angry Birds Movie
  • Barbershop: The Next Cut
  • The Darkness
  • The Huntsman: Winter's War
  • Keanu
  • Mother's Day
  • Ratchet & Clank
  • Zootopia



Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising


I wasn't really a fan of Neighbors.  Too much Seth Rogen can be grating, and even a small amount of Zac Efron and Dave Franco is too much.  So I was not looking forward to this sequel, which basically looked like exactly the same movie.  And now that I've seen it, I can tell you it kind of is basically the same movie ... but a bit better.  It's hard to say why.  Maybe it's the subtle change from fraternity partying to sorority partying.  Or maybe it's because there's less of Dave Franco.  Or perhaps it was just my state of mind.  But for whatever reason, I found it to be an enjoyable, if unnecessary, comedy.  And sometimes even an ok comedy is just what the doctor ordered.

Grade: B

Who is this movie for?  Well, if you're looking for a great date comedy starring Rose Byrne in theaters now ... I highly recommend The Meddler.   But this one is decent and a better choice for a younger audience.

The Nice Guys


Most wide theatrical release films can be easily defined and fit neatly into a category.  They're generally either comic book movies, animated films, science fiction, or crude comedies.  Generally speaking, if it doesn't easily fit into one of those categories, it gets a limited release in select theaters or banished directly to VOD (even if it features big celebrities.)  The Nice Guys definitely fits into the latter category.  It's not easy to define.  It's a weird mix of silly comedy, dark comedy, action, violence, noir, and mystery.  And that seems to be a recurring characteristic of the films by writer/director Shane Black.  He doesn't like to get boxed into one genre.  To some this will be a fresh of breath air.  To others it could be seen as a hot mess.  I expect a wide range of reviews for this one.  And personally, I'm not really even sure what I think.  It certainly was a breath of fresh air, nestled between Captain America: Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse.  I like that it feels original and unpredictable.  But, I'd be lying if I said I could explain the convoluted plot.  Perhaps I'm slow.  Or perhaps it's just too convoluted, or perhaps incomprehensible.  I'm not quite sure.  But it was fairly enjoyable and nice to look at while I tried valiantly to follow it.

Grade: B

Who is this movie for?  If you're tired of comic book movies, animated films, science fiction, and crude comedies, then give it a go.  It's no L.A. Confidential, and not as good as a Coen Brothers flick, but it's probably better than Inherent Vice.

Friday, May 13, 2016

In Theaters Now - 5/13/16



(new releases in green)
  • The Meddler      Grade: A
  • Sing Street      Grade: A
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane      Grade: A-
  • Green Room      Grade: A-
  • Money Monster      Grade: A-
  • The Man Who Knew Infinity    Grade: A-
  • Deadpool      Grade: B+
  • A Hologram for the King      Grade: B+
  • Eye in the Sky     Grade: B+
  • Captain America: Civil War     Grade: B
  • The Boss      Grade: B-
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2    Grade: B-
  • Everybody Wants Some!!      Grade: C+
  • The Jungle Book      Grade: C+
  • Miles Ahead      Grade: C
  • A Bigger Splash      Grade: C
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice     Grade: D
  • High-Rise      Grade: D

Additional Films Not Reviewed:

  • Barbershop: The Next Cut
  • The Darkness
  • The Huntsman: Winter's War
  • Keanu
  • Mother's Day
  • Ratchet & Clank
  • The Trust
  • Zootopia


Money Monster


So many movies these days frustrate me because of how long they take to get going.  Why must I wait 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or even half the movie to become engaged?  That's bad writing and bad filmmaking.  One of the things I love about Money Monster is, you get pulled in right from minute one.  That's courtesy of good writing, good filmmaking, and the very charismatic George Clooney.  Clooney plays a Jim Cramer-esque financial TV show host whose perfect world gets turned upside down by an angry viewer.  And what results is a well-paced thriller that takes place in real time, keeps you entertained from start to finish, and doesn't overstay its welcome by a bloated running time.  It's hard to believe that's such a rarity, but it is.

Grade: A-

Who is this movie for?  If you're tired of superheroes and prefer a solid adult drama/thriller that tackles timely concerns we all have about our money, then this is the one for you.

Friday, May 6, 2016

In Theaters Now - 5/6/16



(new releases in green)
  • The Meddler      Grade: A
  • Sing Street      Grade: A
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane      Grade: A-
  • Green Room      Grade: A-
  • The Man Who Knew Infinity    Grade: A-
  • Elvis & Nixon       Grade: A-
  • Midnight Special      Grade: B+
  • Deadpool      Grade: B+
  • A Hologram for the King      Grade: B+
  • Eye in the Sky     Grade: B+
  • Captain America: Civil War     Grade: B
  • The Boss      Grade: B-
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2    Grade: B-
  • Criminal      Grade: C+
  • Everybody Wants Some!!      Grade: C+
  • The Jungle Book      Grade: C+
  • Miles Ahead      Grade: C
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice   Grade: D

Additional Films Not Reviewed:

  • Barbershop: The Next Cut
  • The Divergent Series: Allegiant
  • God's Not Dead 2
  • Hello, My Name is Doris
  • The Huntsman: Winter's War
  • Keanu
  • Mother's Day
  • Papa Hemingway in Cuba
  • Ratchet & Clank
  • Zootopia

Captain America: Civil War


Is it just me, or has comic book movie fatigue set in for you as well?  You must feel it too by now.  It's too damn much of a good thing.  And it doesn't help when we're all just getting over the debacle known as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  I guess we can't just have good guys fight bad guys anymore.  Now we need good guys fighting other good guys?  It doesn't make any sense on the page, and it doesn't make any more sense on screen.  These internal battles feel contrived and I don't like the trend.

And that's not the only thing I didn't like about Captain America: Civil War.  Here's a list:
  • Like most "tentpole" films, it's too long.  Most movies that are 2.5 hours shouldn't be 2.5 hours.  More isn't always more.  Often times, less would be more. 
  • There are too many unnecessary action scenes, cut together at way too fast a pace (for the ADD/AHD generation).  But for us middle-aged folks all those quick cuts combined with the 3D gives me a headache. 
  • A comic book film is generally only as good as its villain.  This film lacks a memorable villain.
  • It's not funny enough.  Humor is one of the key strengths of the Marvel franchise.  Joss Whedon understands that.  The Russo's don't seem to.  Thankfully Paul Rudd has a (relatively small) appearance (pun intended) that adds some fun to a way-too-serious entry in the MCU.  Captain America: Winter Soldier pulled off the gravitas.  This one, not as much.
  • This is a bit picky, but I don't understand why Civil War falls under the label of a Captain America film.  It's clearly an Avengers film x Hulk x Thor.
OK, so I've said my peace.  But with all that said, it's still a reasonably entertaining movie, with a few great scenes and a fun, very recognizable new character.  And, as usual, they spared no expense.  So there's still some things to like here.  Just not enough to meet my expectations based on all the hype.  I'd call it a disappointment, but not nearly as much as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Grade: B

Who is this movie for?   Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be adequately entertained but probably not blown away.  It's not nearly the worst entry in the MCU but definitely not the best.