Monday, June 22, 2015
15- Cars 2
I told you that there's only one Pixar movie that I don't like. Based on recent online conversations, I'm sure there were at least a few of you that were thinking that a different movie that would end up in this spot. But no. I said that this was a hard list to create, and I stand by that, but putting Cars 2 here was actually the easiest part of creating this list. This movie was awful. The story made no sense. There were no touching moments or inspirational messages. Pixar just made a whole freaking butt-load of money on toys after the first Cars and so they made a sequel as a pure cash grab to make more money on toys. That's why all kinds of different cars, trucks, planes, and other vehicles showed up in this movie. Toys from Cars 2 were already lining the walls at the stores before this movie was even released. Pathetic. Had the movie actually been good, then fine. But it wasn't. It was a mess. The only thing this movie teaches you is that even the best people screw up on occasion.
14- Monsters University
In my opinion, the thing that Pixar does best is create fun, original movies and for the longest time, that's all they really did. In fact, they're a studio that everyone praised for their constant originality. Everyone else in Hollywood was sequel-happy, but Pixar kept doing originals. Until Toy Story 3. That movie was so good that Pixar sadly gave into the sequel-happy business that we live in today. Right after Toy Story 3, we got the disaster that was Cars 2 and not too long after that we got a prequel to Monsters, Inc., which was ALMOST another disaster. Luckily this movie had a really good ending that saved it from being a disaster and turned it into a movie that I can claim I enjoy, but that ending doesn't quite make up for the fact that the first two-thirds of this movie was really dull and pointless. Not to mention it had a few continuity errors with Monsters, Inc. In the end, it wasn't bad, but the world still didn't need Monsters University.
You're not going to believe this when I say it as Cars didn't higher than 13 on this list, but I actually spend most of my time defending Cars. No, I didn't like Cars 2 at all and I cringed when I heard the announcement of a Cars 3 (c'mon Pixar!), but I thought this first movie was fine. Owen Wilson makes a great Lightning McQueen who has a lot of good, honest character development that teaches the good message that you often need to stop and smell the roses and appreciate the small things around you. It also has some great side characters, including the hilarious Larry the Cable Guy as the voice of Mater and a fun race sequence at the end. It's a good solid movie by Pixar. It just doesn't live up to the rest of the movies on this list is all, which is a theme that you will notice going forward. A lot of Pixar movies made a huge impact on my life. Cars wasn't really one of them. It's a good movie. But that's it.
I love WALL-E. I really do. He's an absolutely freaking adorable robot that is fun to watch, especially when he meets EVE. Their interaction throughout the movie was great, as was all the small little details around the wasteland that is Earth in this movie. I also liked the idea of limited dialogue. But when I say I love WALL-E, you'll notice that I didn't italicize anything because I'm referring to the character of WALL-E and not the movie called WALL-E. I don't love the movie WALL-E. I don't hate it, but there's a lot of issues that I have with the movie that prevent me from putting it any higher on this list. And yes, you guessed it, all of those issues have everything to do with the political preachiness of the movie. Yes, I understand the opposing point of view. Many claim that there is no political aspect to this movie. But movies are a form of art and as such can be interpreted many different ways without being wrong. When I watch WALL-E, I feel like I'm watching an environmentalist preach to me about how fat, lazy, and too reliant us humans are on technology and how if we don't change, the world is going to go to crap. Yes, this distracts me from enjoying the movie. If you don't see that at all or it doesn't bother you, then I'm happy for you. I really am.
11- A Bug's Life
Now here's a Pixar movie that I think is very under-rated. This was Pixar's second outing after Toy Story and I personally think it was a very successful outing. It came out at like the same time as Dreamworks' Antz, which was odd. I don't know why we were on a bug fetish that year, but I personally thought both were decent movies, with A Bug's Life being the better of the two. The big problem with A Bug's Life is that it really hasn't stood the test of time like other early Pixar movies such as Toy Story; Monsters, Inc.; or Finding Nemo. I don't mean to say that it has become worse with time. It's still a good movie. It's just one that I feel is more forgettable. I wasn't ever in love with this movie. I've never seen it as a must own Pixar movie. There's a lot of Pixar movies that we did own and watch repeatedly growing up, but I don't think this one of them. Now that's been 17 years since Pixar released this movie, it's one that you will often forget about when you're trying to name all of their movies.
Out of all the movies that I've put on this list, Brave was the hardest one to place. As far as the release date, it was sandwiched between Cars 2 and Monsters University and was part of the underwhelming trio of Pixar movies following the epicness of Toy Story 3. What makes it hard to place, though, is the fact that this is arguably the most different Pixar movie. It's the one Pixar movie that doesn't feel like a Pixar movie at all. It feels like a Disney princess movie. Ironically, this came out the same year as Wreck-It Ralph, which was a Disney movie that felt like a Pixar movie. Yes it's true that Brave doesn't stand up to the rest of the Pixar movies. You can say it's one of their most predictable outings and thus not as creative or bold as their other movies. But maybe it doesn't deserve to be compared to Pixar's other movies. Maybe it deserves to be compared to other Disney princess movies, in which case this holds up pretty well. All of those can be called predictable if you think about it. Brave is a fun, goofy movie with very likable characters, especially our strong female role of Merida, who would probably be my favorite Disney princess if we were to put her in that category. The animation in this movie is also beyond beautiful and it has an amazing score. So maybe I've been too harsh on it. That's why it's ended up a lot higher on this list than I thought it would.
We're now in single digits on this list, which coincidentally is also the point where we go from movies that I like to movies that I love. I called A Bug's Life under-rated and I almost want to call Ratatouille under-rated because I've talked to plenty of people who haven't actually seen it. It's also one of Pixar's lower grossing films with the lowest opening weekend for a Pixar film in the 2000's. I guess people just weren't quite as interested in a movie about a rat? Which is a definite shame if that's the case. I know a lot of people who would put this in their top three. I obviously haven't put it that high as it's not quite as memorably as the eight movies above it, but this is a great movie that teaches a fantastic lesson about success. If you want to do something, don't let others tell you that you can't do it even if the goal seems implausible. If a rat can be a chef, then whatever your goal is can be achieved. Also this movie does a good job of making you hungry, so kudos there.
8- Toy Story 2
It's unfair to call Toy Story 2 the worst movie in the trilogy. That makes it sound like it's a bad movie. It's not. Instead I like to call it the third best. It may not have quite the emotion of the third or the extreme-high nostalgia of the original, but this brings back all my favorite characters from the first and introduces several more that are simply excellent and takes audience on an excellent adventure. And to think that this was originally planned as a direct-to-video sequel. Good decision to throw this into theaters. In fact that was a $485 million decision, as that's how much it made worldwide. Many still think that this is the best of the Toy Story movies as well as Pixar's greatest movie. In which case I hope you don't hurt me for not claiming the same because I love all three Toy Story movies.
This one hurts. Man, this one hurts. I know a lot of people will say that this is Pixar's best, which means if you have completely agreed with me up to this point, this is where I will probably lose you. Just know that when I came up with my first draft of this list, I had this at number two. I wanted to put it really high, but the more and more I stared at the list, the more I realized that there were just too many Pixar movies that I like better to have this that high, which is why this list has been tough to make. Up is one of Pixar's best and most emotional stories and definitely has one of the best love stories I've seen in an animated movie. It also has a lot of great characters, animal and human, as well as a ton of laugh-out-loud humor. I have no complaints about this movie. There's just six movies that I enjoyed more, which says more about the awesomeness that is Pixar than anything else.
6- Inside Out
And here we are with the most recent Pixar movie, which just scored the highest opening weekend ever for a original Pixar movie and second best behind Toy Story 3. I'm not going to spend a ton of time on this one as I just recently wrote a long review on this movie and thus I will direct you there for more details, but let me quickly say here I think this is Pixar's smartest movie and one that adults will probably enjoy more than the kids simply because they'll understand all of the references that the movie makes about the psychology of a human. It's too early to call it an animated classic as it's been in theaters for less than a week, but I definitely think this has the power to become one.
5- Finding Nemo
Did you know that when you adjust for ticket price inflation that Finding Nemo is actually Pixar's biggest hit in the domestic box office? Did you also know that the movie also celebrated it's 12th birthday last month? Crazy, right? Finding Nemo is definitely one of Pixar's most memorable movies, which is why it has stood the test of time so well. I initially had this one a bit lower, but as I stared at the list I realized that had to change because in my opinion this is one of Pixar's best. Out of all the Pixar movies, this one is almost easily the most quotable. I'd also argue that this movie has Pixar's best casting choice with Ellen DeGeneres as Dory. I was initially worried when word came out that they were doing a sequel to this movie, but when I saw Ellen's official announcement of Finding Dory and how excited she was to be doing this project, I became excited. Overall, Finding Nemo has everything you want in a Pixar movie. It has heart, it has emotion, it has adventure, it has excitement, it has humor, it has great characters, it has an amazing story, it has a great message. A definite grand slam for Pixar.
4- Monsters, Inc.
Every once in a while I run into people who don't like Monsters, Inc. and that honestly baffles me. Outside the original Toy Story, this is the Pixar film that I watched the most growing up as a teenager with my two younger brothers as this came out 14 years ago when I was 12 years old. These characters, specifically Mike and Sully, are just as much classics as the Toy Story characters. John Goodman and Billy Crystal have had long, successful careers, but when I think of both of them, this movie is what comes to my mind first as the two of them are the perfect voice actors for these two characters. As far as this movie goes, I also think it's probably Pixar's most clever idea as they take this long-standing idea of having monsters in your closet and spin it so that the monsters are just doing it as a job to power their world and are in fact terrified of kids. Just like what I said with Findning Nemo, this is an all-around perfect movie for Pixar with a little bit of everything you want from a Pixar movie. In fact, Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo are pretty equal in my eyes. So much so that I can't really even explain why I give the slight edge to Monsters, Inc.
3- The Incredibles
We're on the home stretch with this list and this top five has been really difficult to put together because of how close all of these movies are in terms of greatness. Being honest, Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo may better all around Pixar movies than The Incredibles, but I made the decision to put The Incredibles ahead of both of them because there is one area where The Incredibles has a huge advantage. That's the fact that in my opinion The Incredibles is by far the most entertaining Pixar movie. It's also the only superhero movie they've done and I have a special place in my heart for superhero movies. Speaking of which, forget about this list for a second. A couple of years back I created a list of my personal favorite superhero movies and this movie was on there. There's been a whole slew of new superhero movies that have come out since I did that list that would require a revision of that list, but I'm pretty sure that The Incredibles would still make it. It's THAT good. It's a wildly entertaining ride from beginning to end, so of course it belongs high on this list. I'm so glad they finally announced they are doing a sequel because this is the one movie that everyone has been begging Pixar to do a sequel for.
2- Toy Story
If you've actually read this whole blog instead of just looking at the titles, first off congratulations. Go reward yourself. But second, you probably saw this coming because I have referenced Toy Story several times now. I love Toy Story. It came out when I was only six years old and I watched the movie more times than I can probably count and have enjoyed it every time. I love these characters. I owned a Buzz growing up. My brother had a Woody. One of us had a Mr. Potato Head. It was also such a great idea because all of us have imagined our own toys coming to life when we aren't watching and thus this is very relatable to every kid. The animation in this is also incredible. This came out in 1995, which was 20 years ago and yet it still holds up today. Before Toy Story came out, the only animated movies that really came out were by Disney. Now because of Toy Story, we have an almost countless number of animation studios that have created a whole bunch of great movies. Toy Story was revolutionary. So not only is Toy Story an excellent movie on it's own right, but I have Toy Story to thank for pretty much every animated movie that has come in the last 20 years. Of course I had to put it this high. In fact, the only Pixar movie to top the original Toy Story for me is, of course...
1- Toy Story 3
Yup. And if you've talked to me in person you should know that this was no surprise. I've said many times that this was a hard list to make. The easiest movie to place was Cars 2 as the worst. The second easiest was Toy Story 3. In fact, these are the only two movies that have stayed in the same spot among my many revisions. What makes Toy Story 3 so good is the high level of nostalgia that it brought with it. Like I said, I grew up with Toy Story. I watched it so many times growing up and absolutely loved all of the characters. It's crazy to think that there was a 15 year difference between Toy Story and Toy Story 3, but when the third chapter was finally done, they picked the perfect subject matter as it was about Andy going off to college for the first time and having to say goodbye to all of his toys. Not only was this nostalgic and sad because I loved the characters in Toy Story, but it was a very personal one for me because it reminded me of my childhood, specifically all my toys and stuffed animals that I had growing up and how much fun I had with them. All of those memories just flooded in and I couldn't hold it in. I'm not a crier when it comes to movies. Not that I have anything against crying, I just don't cry during movies, but this is one of those movies that almost got me. Twice. Such a perfect movie. It was also the perfect ending to the perfect trilogy. Then Pixar announced Toy Story 4. Uhhhhhhhhhhhh......... in Pixar we trust? Maybe?
Friday, June 19, 2015
Being that most animated movies made these days are directed mainly towards kids, I often am able to judge them a bit differently. There may be certain plot devices that aren't great or cliches that are used, but if I know it's something that the kids will love, then I can forgive it and give the movie a pass. However, I always say that despite being geared towards kids, the best animated movies are ones that appeal to both kids AND adults. If they successfully do this, they get a lot more kudos in my book than a movie that makes the kids laugh but bore the adults. This does happen quite a bit in my opinion, but very rarely do you see an animated movie that appeals more towards adults than kids. Pixar themselves have done this several times. While a young kid might have fun with the events and characters in Toy Story 3, they don't know what it's like to grow up and be forced to part ways with all the toys you used to love. Thus I feel Toy Story 3 would mean a lot more to adults like me who went through all of this. Similar things can be said about other Pixar movies like Up and Ratatouille. As you could've guessed by now, Inside Out does this as well. I feel adults will appreciate this more than kids.
Sure, kids are going to have fun with this movie. They'll laugh at all the characters doing silly things and they'll have fun with the adventures that they go on. But there's a lot of things in this movie that adults will appreciate a lot more. No, I don't mean adult-themed jokes and gags that some animated movies subtly throw in there that go right over the heads of kids that they figure out years later when they watch the movie again. The whole subject matter of this movie is very deep and psychological. I don't want to get into specifics, but in general terms the human mind is a very complex place. I'm no psychologist by any means, but psychological movies are movies that I really enjoy and I feel that this movie does a dang good job of accurately portraying what the human mind is like, especially one that is as complex as an 11-year-old girl who is put through quite the traumatic experience. It's got a be a pretty wild ride up there. But that's not all. The way in which this movie does it is so unique and original that it's one that I will never forget. In fact, when my own mind is going through an emotional roller-coaster, this is the exact movie I will be thinking of. I'll be picturing all the different emotion characters inside the control room of my mind and what they are going through to control this person that is me. It's definitely a crazy place up there.
In the end, I do think Inside Out is one of the most interesting animated movies I have seen lately and certainly one of Pixar's best, which is high praise considering how many great movies they have made. In giving a grade, I do think it's important to remember that a number is just a number. I do like giving a number at the end of a review because it gives people an overall idea of what I thought of that movie, but much more important than a number is what I actually say about the movie and I hope you're focusing more on that than the number I give. No, there's no specific instance that triggered these thoughts, despite what you may think, but it's just something that I've been thinking of recently and I decided I'd share. I was going back and forth in my mind as to what grade I wanted to give this movie and thought to myself, does it really matter that much? My view of the movie might change over time anyways and when I create my end of year lists, I always ignore the numbers I gave to the movies. That said, I still am going to give this movie a grade and that grade is a 9/10. It's a great movie and if you are a fan of Pixar, this is a must see.
Friday, June 12, 2015
With that background in mind, it's time to dive into this Jurassic World movie. A fourth movie in this franchise has been in the works for quite some time and I'm really glad that it took them so long to make it because a Jurassic Park IV shortly after Jurassic Park III would've been a movie that no one would've cared about. I have a feeling that it would've gone the way of Steven Spielberg's Jaws franchise. Ever seen the fourth Jaws movie? Yeah, you don't want to. Instead it's now been 14 years and we are calling it Jurassic World, giving the feel that it is more of a reboot than a sequel. In case you are wondering, no it's not a reboot. The previous three movies are still relevant in this, especially the first which is referenced and given tribute to several times. But it is a new cast, new characters, new story, etc. So it feels like a reboot. And it works. I think it successfully brings the franchise back to it's former glory.
The other major thing that I need to point out is that the pacing of the movie is off. The best monster movies do spend a lot of time building anticipation and don't show the monster until later in the movie. This is something that Jurassic Park does perfectly. If you go re-watch the movie, you may be surprised to learn how far into the movie you get before you first see the t-rex. But despite this, you aren't bored. Jurassic World tried to follow this formula and I appreciate that attempt, but I was bored. Whenever dinosaurs weren't chasing and eating people, I was bored. I shouldn't have been begging the movie to get to the dinosaur action. I should've enjoyed the whole build-up. But I didn't. It also didn't help that for the most part, this movie is super predictable. I will say it was cool to see Dr. Hammond's original goal with this park finally realized, but you know exactly what's going to happen. Part of that is the trailers give away the whole story. The other part is that it's just super obvious. You have a dinosaur park created. Something bad is going to happen. You know that. And when the trailers told you that they made a holy-fetch-asaurus, well you know exactly the bad thing is going to happen. The fact that the trailers take it even further makes in even more frustrating.
Now that I've gotten all of that out of my system, it's time to give you some positives because I do stand my ground in saying that this is a worthy sequel. Is the story realistic? No. Is the pacing on? No. Is it unpredictable? No. Is it entertaining? HECK YES! Does it have good characters? Also a yes. Let's talk about this characters first. Not all of them are great. The movie spent a lot of time on these two kids whose parents send them to the park by themselves. Why not go with them? I don't know. It sounds like a fun family weekend. Oh but their aunt is one of the main workers at the park. Ok fine. I'm not going to say I didn't like the kids. They were decent. But I also won't admit that they were necessary to this story, because they weren't. Speaking of their aunt, Bryce Dallas Howard starts out as one of the really dumb characters who makes a lot of really dumb decisions just so that we can have our movie, so I thought I would hate her the whole time. But I didn't. The second half of this movie she becomes a very likable character. But there is one person in this movie who single-handedly takes this movie on his back and makes it worthwhile. That's Chris Pratt. In the midst of all these dumb people making dumb decisions, he's the smart one who knows what's going on. He knows that creating the holy-fetch-asaurus was a bad idea. He's also been opposed to the hybrid dinosaur thing in general. Since he's not in charge, he has no control over these decisions, but when he's called on to help, he knows exactly what to do. And he does a dang good job at it. He's a well-written character who pulls off a dang good acting performance. His breakout performance as Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy wasn't a fluke. This guy is for real.
Overall, I did have my fair share of problems with Jurassic World. I didn't think the story was that great. I thought the pacing was a bit off. I was disappointed with the predictability of 90 percent of the movie, part of the which is the marketing team's fault for giving away too much in the trailers and TV spots. But this is a super entertaining movie with great performances from Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard that makes this a worthy sequel. Do I like this as much as Jurassic Park? Of course not. Do I like this as much as The Lost World? I'd also say no to that. But that's because if I were to give grades to these two movies, Jurassic Park would get a 10/10 and The Lost World would get a 9/10. It goes without saying that Jurassic World is better than Jurassic Park III, which I would give like a 4/10 at best. Still, though, this is a worthy sequel and a good summer blockbuster. It's not a great movie, but it's a good movie and I'd be down for a sequel with these same characters if they decide to go that route. My overall grade for Jurassic World is an 8/10.
Sunday, June 7, 2015
Cinematically speaking, this is a very-well made movie and I'll get into that here in a bit. However, throughout the whole movie there is a HUGE elephant in the room that the movie barely even acknowledges. Even when they do, I don't feel that they do a good enough job. That issue is that on December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut and shot and killed 20 young kids and six adults before shooting himself and after shooting his own mother. That horrific event is still very fresh on people's minds and is only one of many similar events like it where psychopaths succeeded in killing innocent victims. This is a very sensitive subject for many people and if you're going to make a movie where people survived an event like that because they prayed and God saved them, then you are walking on glass and you need to proceed with a lot of caution. Why does God save some people, but let others die? I know people who will deny the existence of a God because of how unfair this seems. I know other people who still believe in God, but will be emotionally distraught at this issue and for good reasons.
No I didn't see this movie at the LDS Film Festival, but I did read up on this controversy when the film was debuted and thus I spent a lot of time thinking about this issue before I saw this movie this past weekend. There are ways that you can explain this. I thought about sharing my thoughts on the issue, but ultimately I decided to keep this more as a review instead of a spiritual discussion on death, which I do have a lot of personal experience with being that many people close to me have passed away. The answer the movie gives at the end is that some people aren't as lucky as the people at Cokeville Elementary School and we don't really know why. Not even Christ healed every leper or blind man. But despite this, we should be grateful when a miracle does happen. This is a fair point, but it's not good enough in my opinion, especially since it was given as more of an afterthought in the postscript comments right before the end credits. If you are going to tackle a subject like this in a movie, then you need to do a better job than they do at addressing this issue. If you don't feel you can, then you should just leave it alone. Unfortunately I believe that this movie will end up doing more bad than good. I tried to imagine how the parents of the children killed in the Sandy Hook tragedy would feel after they watched this movie and I don't think it would be a very positive reaction.
The other issue I had with this movie was the tone of it. Most, if not all, of T.C. Christensen's films are LDS-themed films with very positive spiritual messages that you could throw in on a Sunday night and be inspired. This movie does have all that in it, but it's all in the second half of the movie. The first half is actually a really intense thriller. It felt like I was watching an episode of Criminal Minds. Yes, I do love Criminal Minds and I also love a really good thriller. But can you imagine sitting down with your parents on a Sunday night, wanting to watch a spiritually powerful movie like The Joseph Smith Movie or The Testaments (two movies that T.C. Christensen also worked on), and instead turning on an episode of Criminal Minds with a spiritual twist towards the end? That might not go over so well, but yet that's what this is. It is PG-13 for good reason, which I think is a first for T.C. Christensen. I mean, if you are wanting to watch a really intense spiritual thriller, then be my guest. Just know what you are getting into beforehand.
In the end, I think there are ways that this movie could've been made that would've been much more effective. I know this is T.C. Christensen and spiritually-inspiring movies are his forte, but I think one way to effectively make a movie based on these events would be to focus more on the events that actually happened and less on the spiritual aspect of it. I'm not saying they should've taken the spiritual aspect out completely, but making the whole thing more ambiguous as opposed to spelling everything out may have been more effective. If they wanted to spell it out, though, they should've spent a good portion of the movie trying to explain why God saves some people from tragedy, but yet lets other people die. There's ways to explain this without being offensive or insensitive. But instead I feel they ignored the issue and thus I think this movie will dig up a lot of painful emotions instead of inspiring a lot of people. If you do get inspired by watching this film, then I'm glad. I really am. I hope I am wrong. No, this is not a bad movie, but I don't think it's nearly as powerful as Christensen's other films and yes, I do think it end up doing more bad than good. Thus my grade for The Cokeville Miracle is a 6/10.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Like I said, in a movie like this, a great story that makes complete sense isn't a requirement, but if your story is a complete mess and your characters are really stupid and annoying, then that is actually a problem. I do need a little more than fancy effects to be entertained and thankfully this movie gives that to me. Is this a well-written story with a perfect script that makes complete sense? No. Is it serviceable? Yes. And the characters? They are also just fine. Personally I really loved Dwayne Johnson in this. He's just a very likable guy with a lot of charisma and like he does with most of his recent movies, he carries this movie on his back and makes you like it. Did I care about his wife? No. Did I care about his wife's stupid boyfriend? Absolutely not. Did I care about his daughter? Uh, yes actually. She was very pleasing to the eyes, but not to a distracting point as she's not overly sexualized like some females are. And she wasn't a damsel in distress, which I was glad of. Just a good solid female character played by a good actress. Did I care about her boy thing that she meets? Not really. What about boy thing's hilarious little brother. Sure. He was fun. Was there a point in the movie where I felt like any of the main characters were in serious peril? No actually. Which was a problem given that they were experiencing the biggest recorded earthquake in history. Why am I talking about all of this? I don't know. It doesn't really matter. But the point is that the movie around the disaster is serviceable, which is important.
Overall, I know that many critics have given this movie a really hard time and when I read their reviews, I can't actually argue against the points they make, but what I can say is that you really have to go into this movie with the right frame of mind. This is a crowd-pleasing, popcorn blockbuster. The point of this movie is to watch the stunning visuals and be super entertained with the epic destruction of California. If you just turn off your brain and try to enjoy that aspect of the movie, I really think you are going to be immensely entertained. I was. If you spend too much time thinking about the plot or the script or some of the things the characters do, then you need to stop yourself before you ruin your experience because there are a lot of problems in those aspects of the movie, but the actual destruction scenes are so good that it makes up for it. But the rest of it is serviceable. The story is fine. Dwayne Johnson is great as always. The girl who plays his daughter, Alexandra Daddario, is good as well. The rest of the of characters I didn't really care for, but no one bothered me. But it's whatever. I went it in simply wanting to have fun with it and I did, so I am going to unashamedly give this movie an 8/10.
June 5th - 7th-
The second movie of this first weekend will give horror fans an option as Insidious Chapter 3 will attempt to haunt theaters. Four years ago, Insidious became a surprise hit as it opened low but held extremely well back in April 2011. In terms of horror, it is generally seen as a well-liked horror movie, which can be rare these days. Because horror movies usually only cost a few dimes to make, this of course sparked the sequel Insidious Chapter 2 which played off the success of the original to open up to huge numbers in September 2013. The problem here is that Chapter 2 wasn't well liked and thus fell hard. Where the original quadrupled it's opening weekend total, Chapter 2 barely doubled. This isn't really a good omen for Chapter 3. If it ends up being a stinker like the second, it has a good chance of getting ignored this time around. They are taking the prequel route with it, which has worked for horror movies in the past. Also, trailers are promising that it is the most terrifying chapter yet. In order to be a hit, it'll most likely have to hold up on that promise.
The final movie of the weekend is actually the movie that is getting a head start on the month as Entourage actually opens up on Wednesday the 3rd, which means a lot of Entourage fans will be heading out to the Tuesday night showings which are happening as a type this up. Entourage is based off the hit HBO TV series which started in 2004 and went for 8 seasons. When I say "based off," I really mean that it's an extension of the series as it brings back the cast and characters from the series for one final ride. A lot of critics are panning the movie right now, saying that it's nothing more than an extended TV episode of Entourage, but actual fans of the series have enjoyed it so far, so this is one of those critic-proof movies as some fans are calling this the finale that the TV show deserved, but didn't actually get in the actual finale. So if you are a fan of the TV series Entourage and you haven't already seen the movie by the time you read this, it's a movie you should probably go see.
June 12th - 14th-
June 19th - 21st-
The other movie from this weekend is much less known, but like it's release companion, it also has a perfect score of 100 percent on the tomato meter. This movie is Dope. Initially released at the Sundance Film Festival in January, Dope was picked up by Open Road Films and is a coming of age comedy/drama about the post hip-hop generation. Open Road Films aren't known for their huge releases as their highest grossing movie is 2014's The Nut Job with $64 million domestically, so I imagine they are planning on a smaller release with Dope and will rely on word of mouth to propel it forward, but given the reviews it's definitely something to look out for. As far as a draw, the big name actor in this is Forest Whitaker. Outside him, much of the cast is full of younger stars, the biggest of which is Zoe Kravitz, the daughter of singer/actor Lenny Kravitz. Zoe has made a decent name for herself recently as she's picked up supporting roles in major films such as X-Men: First Class, The Divergent Series, and the most recent hit Mad Max: Fury Road.
June 26th - 28th-
The last movie of the month is the one that I'm going to call the biggest sleeper candidate and that is Max. I say sleepeer because it could possibly stay asleep if the advertising doesn't kick in a bit, but it's also the type of feel good movie that could go over very well with audiences and thus hold well at the box office. Max is a dog. But not just any dog. Max is a war dog and a war hero at that who has saved the lives of many marines in Afghanistan. But just like a lot of soldiers, Max has gone through a traumatic experience that has caused him to suffer from PTSD after he is home. So this is a war drama. A war drama surrounding a dog. I haven't quite been able to tell if this exact plot is based on a true story about an actual dog, but I do know that these types of dogs do exist. The movie is directed by Boaz Yakin, the director of Remember the Titans and the writer of Now You See Me, and stars Robbie Amell and Thomas Haden Church among others.