Friday, July 31, 2015
Speaking of my Ghost Protocol review, I went back and read that just now and apparently I wasn't super enthralled with the movie when I first saw it. Interesting. I wonder how that would change on a re-watch because I had a blast with Rogue Nation. Either that means that Rogue Nation is a much better movie or I was in a weird mood when I saw Ghost Protocol. I'm thinking the latter, but we'll see. As you would expect with a Mission: Impossible movie, Tom Cruise has found himself in quite the conundrum. As he is out moseying around the world, he sees some evil dude do a very evil thing and then a bunch of that evil dude's cohorts start beating the living tar out of him and he only escapes because of one of my new favorite females. Then he decides he needs to hunt this evil dude down and so he calls his buddy Hawkeye, I mean Jeremy Renner (who was in Ghost Protocol, which was released before The Avengers), for some help but then he learns that the CIA has shut down his little organization and are out to kill him, so he can only get help from his buddies if they agree to put their lives on the line and help him. You know, typical day in the life of Tom Cruise. I could be more specific with the details and terminology here, but sometimes I like to give as little plot as possible in my reviews, thus preserving the experience for my readers who haven't seen the movie. But you get the point. Basically Tom Cruise is on yet another mission that seems, dare I say... impossible?
You heard me say team at the end of that last sentence. Without giving anything away, this mission becomes more than just Tom Cruise doing awesome stunts and coming up with ideas on his own. All four of our main protagonists get equal time to shine in this movie, which I really liked. They might not be the brilliant-minded, action star that Tom Cruise is in this movie, but they're all good in their own individual ways. First, I need to talk about Tom Cruise. If you are one of those people that still boycott this man's movies and hate on him because of his personal life, just stop already. I won't go on this rant again, but the man is an absolute genius on the screen. He's getting old now, but he sure as heck doesn't act like it. He's still acting and doing crazy stunts like he's forever in his 20's. The fact that he does his own stunts gives him even more kudos in my book. I don't expect this out of actors. I have zero problem with the inclusion of stunt doubles. But when you can do your own stunts, I give you major props. And there's some crazy things that happen in this movie that make me want to go watch a documentary on the making of this movie to see exactly what Tom Cruise put himself through. The man is a genius, a boss, and a super good actor. Stop being a hater already and accept this man's awesomeness.
The other three now. We have a great trio of support for Tom Cruise in Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames. First off, Jeremy Renner is awesome and the casting people for Ghost Protocol should really give themselves a gold star for getting this guy on board before he exploded on the scene as Hawkeye. Yes it's true that he was Hawkeye in the first Thor, which was released before Ghost Protocol. But it wasn't until The Avengers where he really caught people's eyes, mine included. Now he's in everything and is loved by everyone. Rogue Nation definitely takes advantage of this and ups his role in a big way. Smart move. Simon Pegg does a great job of being the comic relief, especially because he is able to do so in a way that doesn't disrupt the flow of the movie as this movie is very intense at times. He's also able to be equally as good at being serious and I really appreciated that versatility in his performance. Finally, as far as our main group of protagonists goes, we have Ving Rhames, who is the guy you don't want to meet in a dark alley, if you know what I mean. This guy has been in all five Mission: Impossible movies, so huge fans of the franchise will be happy to know that his role in this is pretty big, which wasn't the case in Ghost Protocol if I'm remembering correctly.
If there's one flaw that I find in this movie, it's the actual master-mind behind all of this villainy. While the scheme itself was brilliant, as a main villain I didn't find him very convincing. When he finally got his screen-time, I didn't buy the fact that he was the one to come up with all of this. But that's really the only issue I had with this movie and that's quite the minor issue when compared to the awesomeness that was the rest of this movie. Best action movie of the summer, like the recent TV spots have been saying? Well, no. I'd still give that title to Mad Max: Fury Road. But this ain't too far behind that. If you don't like action movies, then this isn't for you of course. But if you love action movies, which will probably be the case for most of the people reading this review, then you need to make movie a high priority because it's an absolute blast from beginning to end. I really wish I could give you my ranking for this movie in compared to the other Mission: Impossible movies. Sorry again for that. But I don't imagine things getting much better than this. It's everything you would expect from a movie called Mission: Impossible and perhaps even more. I'm going to give this movie a very strong 9/10. I even considered going a bit higher with this, but that's a strong grade for me as is, so I feel comfortable with it.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
In addition to having no idea that I was going to see a Brian Wilson biopic, the other thing that made this a really good experience for me personally was that I knew pretty much nothing about the personal lives of any of the Beach Boys. All I knew is that they wrote some pretty darn good songs like "Good Vibrations," "Barbara Ann," and "Fun, Fun, Fun." So everything that happened in the movie was a total surprise. If you are a huge Beach Boys fan and you know every detail about their personal lives, I'm sure this will still be a great experience for you as I have enjoyed plenty of biopics where I knew how it was going to end. But knowing nothing made for quite the experience because apparently Brian Wilson had quite the crazy life and thus this was quite the intense and emotional movie. The movie jumps between two separate timelines. One timeline is back in the 60's during the Beach Boys' heyday. The other is during the 80's where Brian Wilson was going through quite the ordeal. I don't know how much of this ordeal I want to share, but I think it's safe to say that in the 60's his mental health was deteriorating quite a bit and some awful things happen to him in the later story line because of that.
Major props go out to every actor involved in this movie. I first want to mention this blonde female actor in the movie before I mention the two Brians. Like I said, I knew almost nothing going into this film. I didn't even know who it starred. The later story line centered around a complicated love story that followed the female part of that more than Brian. For the life of me I couldn't figure out who this actress was, but I swear I knew her from something and since I was really enjoying the heck out of her performance, I wanted to know who it was and I wasn't about to pull out my cell phone in the theater. That's not cool. Sure enough, the credits eventually rolled around and holy Effie Trinket it was Elizabeth Banks as this girl. Wow! I mean, I've always loved Elizabeth Banks, especially in her Hunger Games role, so I'm not surprised that she was able to pull this off, but I was still impressed as this was the best I've ever seen her. I'd be in total support of her get recognized by the award ceremonies at the end of this year.
Next I want to discuss both of our Brians. Younger Brian is played by Paul Dano and older Brian is played by John Cusack. Both of these guys are the bomb in this. I think it's especially difficult to portray a character who is going through mental issues and in this case its especially difficult because the two actors have to be pretty in sync with each other as the one eventually progresses to being the other and that transition I feel is done rather well. Both of these actors definitely felt like the same character. Now John Cusack has been around for a while and he's usually great in everything he does, even if the movie itself isn't the best (2012 is an example of that). So it's no surprise that he is great in this. Props to the guy for some good consistency throughout his career. Paul Dano on the other hand is someone who's really impressed me as of late and I think he's one to keep your eye on. No, he's not new to the acting business. But he's pulled off some dang good performances as of late. In Prisoners he played our mostly mute, mysterious victim. I believe he was one of the scumbag slave owners in 12 Years a Slave. Now this where he plays a Brian that is slowly deteriorating mentally while achieving major success with the Beach Boys. All super impressive.
Overall, if you like the Beach Boys, then this is a movie that you need to check out. I watched the trailer after seeing this movie (not completely intentional -- no need to tell that story here, though) and they have this tagline that says something to the effect of you won't see the Beach Boys' music the same after watching this and I think that is true. Knowing Brian Wilson's story will give you a different perspective on this great band. Even if you don't call yourself a Beach Boys fan, but you like biopics or you just like watching good movies in general, then this is also a movie that you need to see because it's one of the better biopics that I've seen. It's also a movie where the narrative is very well crafted and all the performances by the cast are just excellent. Huge props especially go out to Elizabeth Banks, John Cusack, Paul Dano, and Paul Giamatti for really making this work. This is an intense and emotional ride that deserves your attention. I'm awarding Love & Mercy a 9/10.
Saturday, July 25, 2015
That's our movie guys. Not this fun, silly adventure where you turn off your brain and enjoy. It was this grueling, painful event stuffed with some of the worst writing I've seen on film this year. This writing is so bad that it rivals such movies like Jupiter Ascending or Strange Magic from the beginning of the year. Haven't seen those? Good. Forget about them. The acting here isn't even the problem. All these bitter Adam Sandler trolls on the internet who say the man has never made a good movie and never will are probably now laughing at me and others who defended this. But do you know what, the man HAS made plenty of good movies. He CAN act when he wants to. Happy Gilmore? The Waterboy? 50 First Dates? The Longest Yard? Click? Bedtime Stories? Hotel Transylvania? These are all good movies by Adam Sandler, several of which he pulled off a great acting performance. I even heard that he was pretty good in last year's Men, Women & Children even though the movie itself was a pile of garbage. Yes, there are plenty of times where he just seems like he doesn't care and is there for the paycheck. This actually isn't one of them. He's fine in the movie. He tries to make it fun. It's not his fault the writing was so freaking bad that not even a great actor could redeem the movie.
Same thing goes for Kevin James. For anyone who says he's never done any good, I'd quickly remind you of this TV show called The King of Queens. That was a fantastic late 90's/early 2000's sitcom. Even if you didn't like him in that, pretty much everyone I've talked to has enjoyed the movie called Hitch, which is one of my personal favorite rom-coms. Even movies like Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Zookeeper, and Here Comes the Boom played very well for the younger audience that it was intended for. Yes, I called his character a buffoon earlier in my review, but that's not Kevin James' fault. He was just written is an unlikable buffoon. Let's continue. Josh Gad. The man is pretty much a legend in a little-known animated movie called Frozen. The voice of Olaf? I was laughing non-stop the whole movie at Olaf's brilliant one-liners. How is it that nothing that comes out of Josh Gad's mouth is even remotely funny in Pixels? Was Frozen just a one-hit wonder for him? Did he forget how to make people laugh? I don't believe that. He was trying in this movie, but the writing was so bad that it was impossible for him to be funny. Peter Dinklage. That little guy is a genius. I personally know him as Miles Finch from Elf. You know, the character that Will Ferrell's Buddy the Elf refers to as a "South Pole elf" or an "angry elf"? Many of you will know him for Game of Thrones. He plays Tyrion Lannister in that. The guy knows how to act. But in Pixels he is just awful. His fault? Nope.
I could go on. I could talk about some really awkward things that happened at the end of the movie. I could dive into one of the worst played romances in recent memory. But I'll stop here because I think you get my point. Pixels just doesn't work. If you saw it already, I'm sorry I couldn't warn you earlier. I decided to give my attention to Southpaw and Paper Towns first. If you haven't seen it yet, just don't. If you are part of the crowd who jokes with me that you end up liking every movie that I hate, then look at some other reviews. The movie is at 5.1 on IMDb. It's at 19% on Rotten Tomatoes. Trustworthy YouTube reviewers like Chris Stuckmann and Jeremy Jahns both trashed this movie. Stuckmann even gave this movie a big, fat "F." No one is enjoying this movie, so it's not just me. I saw it because that's what I do. I watch movies and write about them. Sometimes I seek out the bad movies so that I can have fun writing bad reviews. If you are a casual movie-goer, just skip this one. At the very least, wait till it comes to Red Box, Netflix, or a dollar theater where you don't have to spend much money and you can turn it off or walk out without much worry when you realize that all of us were right all along. As a lover of the classic arcade video games that this movie showcased, I was especially frustrated at such a wasted opportunity. My grade for Pixels is a 3/10 and I only go so high because I can tell the actors were trying to make this fun and there were a few brief moments where I had a bit of fun. But mostly it's just crap.
If you've never heard of Paper Towns and "based off of a John Green novel" is not enough to attract you to the theaters, let me quickly describe the fun and genius nature of this plot before I pick apart its imperfections. Our movie is about this high school kid named Quentin. He's a pretty by-the-books sort of kid who's always doing what he's supposed to and never getting trouble. He gets straight A's in his classes and he has plans on going to a prestigious college followed by Medical School and all that jazz. You get the picture. Our other main character is a girl named Margo. She's almost the exact opposite. She's probably not a bad student, per se, but she's a lot less interested in school and more interested in all these crazy adventures that could potentially get her in a whole lot of trouble. Quentin, of course, is madly in love with Margo and has been since she moved across the street from him when they were younger. They used to even hang out all the time until they grew apart. One day towards the end of his senior year in high school, she shows up at his window and forces him to go on all these crazy adventures with her and he has the night of his life. Then Margo disappears the next day and Quentin and his two best friends go on a treasure hunt to try and find her.
Another thing that I enjoyed about this movie was that our characters had a decent amount of depth to them. There's this one girl in particular that plays the hot girl and she gets upset that people can only see her as the hot girl and not the smart, intelligent girl that she really is. It wasn't cheesy. It was emotional and well-played. Also impressive was the acting in the movie. All of these young adults did a very good job. Some of these people are fairly new actors. If I threw out the names Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, and Halston Sage, you'd probably have no idea who I'm talking about because they haven't really been in anything. But they gave the type of performance in this where I'd think that they all have a bright future ahead of them. On the other hand, if I say the names Nat Wolff and Cara Delevigne, there's a much higher chance of you recognizing them. Wolff was also in The Fault in Our Stars and has been in other movies such as Stuck in Love and Palo Alto. Delevigne has done a lot of modelling work and was also in Anna Karenina. She also has big roles in the upcoming movies Pan and Suicide Squad, so if you don't know her now, you will soon. Both of them were great in this.
As you can see, there are plenty of great aspects of this movie. Where it kinda derailed for me was the final part of the movie. I'm not going to share why on this post as that would be a spoiler, but I will say that it reminded me a bit of Tomorrowland from earlier this Summer. It was fun going on the journey to Tomorrowland, but once we got there it was fairly lame and boring. Same principles here. There are aspects of the ending that I did actually appreciate, but at the same time I was not happy with how things turned out. Then I got to thinking that if they had done things differently, I would've also had issues, so it was kind of a lose/lose situation based on how they set it up. When I thought about what the root of this issue was, my conclusions were that these characters felt pretty fake and unrealistic. Better words might be that they are idealistic or romanticized teenagers. The parents and adults in this movie, or the lack thereof, are a huge part of the problem. These kids can do whatever they want without suffering any consequences whatsoever. Cara Delevigne's character of Margo was especially bad. I actually really loved Cara's performance. She's a beautiful and talented actress. But the more I think about her character, the more I realize how hokey of an idea she is. Thus sadly the more I thought about this movie, the more it just fell apart for me.
No Paper Towns is not a bad movie. I had fun with it. It's led by a great trio of friends who are an absolute blast to watch. They are all very different from each other, yet as friends that have super good chemistry. The movie is especially fun when Margo disappears and sends them on a treasure hunt to find her. The movie will certainly instill in you a sense of adventure. It made me want to go out and do something. But after everything wrapped up, it felt like there was a lot things that were missing in the movie. A lot of the writing didn't make sense when I thought about and a lot of the characters I felt did things and got away with things that normal teenagers wouldn't do or wouldn't get away with. As far as a recommendation, if you liked The Fault in Our Stars or you are a fan of John Green, go see this movie. If you are a teenager reading this review, go see this movie. If you're not sure about it, my recommendation would be to go find Me and Earl and the Dying Girl instead or even go rent The DUFF. They are similar movies to this that are far superior. My grade for Paper Towns is a 7/10.
Friday, July 24, 2015
That's the formula. If you don't like it, then fine. This movie isn't for you. But it's a formula that works very well for the genre and one that gets me almost every time when done right. Yes, the variables are always different. I could take some time right here telling you about the specific variables that Southpaw uses, but I'm not going to. If you really want to see what they are, just go watch the trailer again because once again too much of the plot is shared in this trailer. I'll spare you the rant this time around, but you know what I usually say to that. Needless to say, Southpaw hits all the right notes it needs to in order to be one heck of a boxing movie. This is an extremely emotional movie that sees Jake Gyllenhaal become an absolute mess. Once he becomes this mess, I was once again blown away by the amazing acting prowess that this man has. I always say the best actors are those who can totally immerse themselves into a role and become the character they are trying to portray. Gyllenhaal did this last year in Nightcrawler to perfection. Once again he has completely transformed himself and is almost unrecognizable. I didn't see Jake Gyllenhaal. I saw a boxer whose life has completely fallen apart. When I read about all the effort and preparation the Gyllenhaal put into this role, it becomes even more impressive. He's a guy who seems to take every role seriously and I really appreciate that.
If you've watched enough boxing movies, you'll know that most of the good ones always have a moment. This moment I speak of is often a turning point where an emotional and/or heated discussion takes place between our main character and a person close to him. Southpaw's moment is between Gyllenhaal and his daughter. This daughter is played by a young 12-year-old girl named Oona Laurence and dang can this girl act. I'm always a lot more forgiving if a child actor doesn't pull off the best acting performance. I don't think it's fair to hold them to the level of their adult co-stars. However, when they do pull off a performance that is equal in scale to the adults in the movie, it's that much more impressive. Little Oona does just that. Fantastic. The other great performance in this movie is another one of my favorite actors, that of Forest Whitaker. I feel that he's often under-appreciated when he shows up in a movie. He doesn't get a whole ton of recognition. But he's also one who fully immerses himself into his role and this is no different. He plays the perfect supporting role in this movie that really is the glue that holds all the big pieces together.
Overall, Southpaw is a movie that worked very well for me. No, it didn't do anything unique or crazy with the boxing genre, but in my opinion it didn't need to. Sometimes when you are making a movie it is much better to just follow a tried and tested formula than to try to branch out too much. Yes Southpaw followed this boxing movie formula, but it hit all the right notes along the way and thus as a fan of boxing movies, I was very pleased. Propelling this movie was yet another excellent performance by Jake Gyllenhaal who once again proves why he is one of my current favorite actors. Is this the movie that will avenge his slap in the face by the Oscars last year? I don't know. Probably not. But whatever. After seeing Southpaw, I watched a YouTube video done by Francis Maxwell and Jason Rubin from the TYT Sports YouTube channel where they rank their top five favorite boxing movies (check it out right here) and they included Southpaw in their list. I don't know how my list would be, but I do agree with them that Southpaw is one of the best boxing movies that has been made and one of the best movies of the year so far. My grade for Southpaw is a 9.5/10.
Friday, July 17, 2015
One thing that I've really appreciated about Marvel recently is their willingness to take risks. Ant-Man was yet another huge risk for them. There's two things that made this a huge risk. The first is that once again they decided to adapt a fairly unknown superhero to the big screen. The second is that the casual fan actually thought that the idea of Ant-Man was a very bad one. I can't tell you how many times in the last several months that I heard people predicting that Ant-Man was going to be Marvel's first bad movie and/or their first big flop. Last year's Guardians of the Galaxy also was an adaption of a group of unknown superheroes, but the advantage that movie had was a super effective marketing campaign that had people excited beyond belief ever since the first teaser trailer dropped. The Ant-Man teaser actually did nothing to convince skeptics that this was going to be good. The ensuing trailers did a better job, but I would argue that there was still more bad-will than good-will heading into this weekend. On a personal level, I was excited this whole time. I've actually developed a motto of "in Marvel we trust." Until they start making bad movies, I'm going to be excited for everything they put out. In addition to that, Ant-Man's powers and abilities sounded like something that would make for a very entertaining movie and when I personally saw the trailers I saw something that looked like a blast.
As is the case with most smaller films, this movie also relies a lot on story and characters. In fact, we go quite a while before we get a lot of Ant-Man action. Much of the movie takes place in Hank Pym's house. I know a lot of people will be disappointed in this as they wanted a non-stop action movie like the most recent Avengers movie, but I actually loved this approach this time around and what really sold it for me was an absolute grand slam of a cast. There's a whole lot of people that I want to talk about here and I will get to them, but there's one person in this movie that I want to talk about first and it may surprise you, but that person is my girl Evangeline Lily. If you didn't know already, my all-time favorite TV show is LOST. I'm not going to give you a review of LOST here, but the strength of the show is that it is a huge character piece with a lot of well-written characters and phenomenal actors. It's hard to pick a favorite actor or actress from the show, but if I had to I would actually pick Evangeline Lily as Kate. Such a great character and an amazing actress. I've always hoped that the cast of LOST would have a ton of post-LOST success and it's really made me happy to see Evangeline Lily obtain that with roles like this in Ant-Man as well as Tauriel in the Hobbit movies. In Ant-Man she plays Hank Pym's daughter Hope van Dyne and her relationship with her father is a rocky one. Watching that relationship is actually one of the best parts of the movie and a big part of that is Evangeline Lily's amazing as always performance.
Speaking of that relationship, the other half of that is also amazing. Like seriously. Holy Michael freaking Douglas. The Oscar-winning actor shows once again why he is one of the best in the business. In fact, after watching this I want to now go watch all of his adventures as Hank Pym's Ant-Man. No, they don't exist as movies, but I want them to. I'd also be down for making Michael Douglas young again so we can go make these movies. But alas, that may not be possible, probably, or likely. And that's okay because Paul Rudd as Ant-Man is also spectacular. The guy just has a whole lot of charisma as Scott Lang. He's made some bad decisions and he's trying to make up for it and become a new person so that he can be there for his daughter. But things just aren't working out for him and you really feel bad for him and you want things to. Then he becomes the Ant-Man and man does he do a good job as that character. I'm excited to see him join the Avengers, because yes, this movie absolutely does connect with the Avengers and it does so in fantastic fashion. Apparently this is the dispute that caused Edgar Wright to leave the project, which is sad because this was his dream project for many years. After watching this, though, I do side with Marvel because the connection with the Avengers is fabulous. And new director Peyton Reed does a great job with this. I am happy that Marvel was classy enough to give Edgar Wright writing and story credit.
Yes, you heard that right. In ranking Marvel's Phase II movies, I would place Ant-Man just ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron, but not quite ahead of Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Iron Man 3. While we're at it, Thor: The Dark World would round things out as sixth best movie of the six Phase II movies. I use the phrasing "sixth best" instead of "worst" because I really enjoyed all of these movies. Worst sounds too harsh. Point is, Ant-Man is a blast. I was excited going in because it sounded fun, but at the same time I had my expectations somewhat tempered because I didn't think this would be quite on the level of Marvel's previous outings, but even I was surprised at how much fun I had. Yes, this is on the same level of Marvel's previous outings. If you were on the fence about this, but you've loved what Marvel has had to offer thus far, go see this one. You may be shocked at how good this actually is. If you are tired of superhero movies, I'm sorry. They're not ending any time soon. Will this one convert you? I don't know. I'm not sick of superhero movies, so I can't be the one to tell you if this is any better. You could probably pick this apart like you could most superhero movies. Or you could just go and have a really fun time, but this is great. I didn't even go into much detail about all the awesome action scenes and how the shrinking element makes that even more fun. I suppose I'll leave that as a surprise for you. My grade for Ant-Man is a 9/10.
P.S.- There are TWO scenes in the credits, one during and one after. Don't be like 90 percent of my screening and leave after the first one. You should know better than that. This is Marvel.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Terminator Genisys starts off in the year 2029. John Conner has led the human race to near victory over the machines, whose goal is to completely wipe out the human race. This all started on August 29, 1997, a day known as Judgment Day wherein an artificial defense system known as Skynet was put into place. Skynet was created to defend the human race, but this went horribly wrong and instead wiped out most of the human race on that day. When John Conner is finally on the brink of victory, Skynet, in a move of final desperation, sends one of these machines, known as a terminator, back to the year 1984 to murder John's mother Sarah Conner before John is born. To counter this move, John in turn sends one of his soldiers named Kyle Reese to that same day to protect Sarah and stop the terminator. Now if you're like most people and have actually seen The Terminator, you'll realize that this plot sounds awfully familiar. This is because Terminator Genisys starts off pretty much the exact same way as the original film. The catch, though, is this time around Sarah Conner is ready for him because she actually had a terminator sent back to when she was nine years old to protect her and prepare her for this day. Thus begins what is essentially a reboot of the franchise as they go the same route that the X-Men and Star Trek franchises did by using time travel and alternate time lines to reboot the series.
Then I watched the third movie. This one actually had slightly better reviews than the fourth movie, which even included a positive score on Rotten Tomatoes, so I was expected some enjoyment out of it, but wow. Not only did that movie not give me even an ounce of entertainment, it felt blasphemous and offensive to the previous two. Here's the biggest issue I had. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, they ended things. They stopped Judgment Day from happening. Sarah Conner grew up to be an old grandma and John Conner ended up as a politician. It was over. Done. Finished. If they wanted to bring it back, at the very least come up with a smart way to bring it back that is consistent with the first two. This movie was possibly the worst attempt at a franchise revival/continuation that I've ever seen. Suddenly we started out with John as a 20-something-year-old guy and we are supposed to believe that his mom dies in 1997 from leukemia? It completely ignored the end of the second movie as if they just expected people to forget what happened at the end of that movie. I didn't understand. But that wasn't the only problem. The characters sucked. The story was awful. The action wasn't that fun. The villain was lame. Everything that made the franchise great was gone. Even Arnold's character was dumb and boring. I was shocked at how bad it was. I don't even really want to talk about the fourth one because that was absolutely useless. Didn't even feel like a Terminator movie.
So now after two completely awful and offensive movies, I was suddenly not excited for the Genisys at all. Not to mention the trailer showed the whole movie. I went in ready to absolutely tear this movie to shreds in my review. I did choose to see it in IMAX 3D, but that was only because it was the same price as a normal ticket on that specific day, which was only $5. The 3D was useless as usually and even the IMAX wasn't that great compared to other movies I've seen. But hey, it was cheap, so it's whatever. However, after going into this movie ready to rip it to shreds, I actually was taken aback at first. If they were to do a sequel to Judgment Day, this is the way to do it. In the first one a terminator is sent back to kill Sarah as an adult shortly before John is born. In the second one, a terminator is sent back to kill John when he's a kid. In this one a terminator is sent back to try to kill Sarah when she's a kid. Thus when Kyle Reese comes to her in 1984, he is totally taken aback because she's ready for him and knows everything, she has a terminator there protecting her which confuses the heck out of him, and there is a T-1000 (the type of terminator from the second movie) there in addition to the original terminator. For a moment I was wondering if this was going to be a movie that I was going to enjoy.
Nope. Had they stayed simple with this movie and stayed there in 1984 with the three terminators (one bad, two good) as well as Sarah and Kyle, this could've been a fun movie. I would've still taken issue with it because of how perfect the second movie ended the franchise, but I may have come out of the movie with a fairly positive outlook. The biggest issue here is that the movie quickly gets very confusing. Time travel is a subject that needs to be used with extreme care because if you get too carried away things start getting messy and convoluted. That's exactly what happens here. I don't want to spoil what happens, especially because the trailer already does plenty of that, but I will say that Kyle Reese travelling back to 1984 is not the only moment of time travel in this movie. Thus when I try to look at the current timeline of all four movies that feel like Terminator movies (Terminator Salvation being the one I'm not counting), this timeline is really hard to explain. There's a few other things in the second half of this movie that make things even worse, but I won't spoil things. I will say that they tried to include suspense halfway through, but it wasn't suspenseful one bit because I knew everything that was going to happen. When are we going to learn to NOT spoil the movie in the trailer? Stupid.
Yes, I did go into this movie expecting to rip it to shreds, but I started as surprised. But the further and further we got into this movie, the more it just derailed. The characters were good in this, so they won't get partial blame for this movie like the characters from the third and fourth movies do. The problem here is the writing. It's just not good and once again I am convinced that the Terminator franchise should've ended after the second movie. It was the perfect ending. If you are going to bring it back, be smart with it and justify your existence as a sequel. I can now say that we have had three straight Terminator sequels that have failed at this. Thus what was once a grand and glorious franchise with the first two movies has now become the textbook example of what is wrong Hollywood today. Sequels can be good. I am not inherently opposed to sequels. But I am super frustrated with poorly done sequels made just to cash in. Can't we just learn to leave certain franchises alone? Apparently not. As far as grades go, I would give The Terminator a 9 or 9.5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day definitely gets a 10. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation would be somewhere between 3 and 5. I was actually ready to give Terminator Genisys a 6 or 6.5 because it's not as bad as the previous two, but then there was a mid-credits scene that basically said yet another sequel is happening and that made me so frustrated that I am now giving Terminator Genisys a 5/10.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
I've pretty much been with Arrow since the beginning. I think I jumped on board six or seven episodes in and quickly binge-watched my way to where they were on live TV. Believe it or not, it's actually fairly uncommon for this to happen to me. Usually I end up waiting for a show to be a season or two in before I jump on board and get sucked in. That wasn't the case here. It got me from the beginning. I will admit, though, that it took Arrow a little bit of time before it really got going. I felt that they didn't have much focus that first season. It was just villain of the week episodes and love stories for every main character. I felt that they had a plan with the show, but it took a while for me to catch a glimpse of what that plan was. Towards the end of that first season is when things really picked up and that carried into the second season where they took things up a notch. Season 2 was actually so epic that it made me forget that season 1 existed. It didn't take long at all for this to be my go to show.
Then they killed her. What?!?! For me that was like cruising down the highway in a fancy Lamborghini when out of nowhere and without any warning there is suddenly a huge brick wall in the middle of the road that you smash into, totaling your Lamborghini while barely keeping yourself alive. Killing Sara made zero sense. I'm not going to lie, Arrow almost completely derailed for me when they did that. The only thing that really kept me going was the idea that possibly she's not dead for good. They can't kill off my favorite character in the show at the beginning of season 3. Or could they? When they killed her off, I felt that she would be back rather quickly as we knew that Ra's al Ghul was on the show and he had his Lazarus Pit that could bring people back from the dead. But this didn't happen right away. The further we got, the more horrified I became. Is Sara dead for good? Are they not going to bring her back. With the direction they were taking things, this seemed like more and more of a possibility and I didn't like it. We actually went through the whole season with no signs of bringing Sara back. I didn't like that one bit. There were a few episodes where it said "guest starring Caity Lotz" that got me excited, but I ended up just being disappointed because it was only her voice that was being used as Laurel tried to make herself sound like her sister. Luckily, though, the creators of the show are pretty bad at keeping secrets. One day after the finale, this trailer was released for the new spin-off, Legends of Tomorrow:
And there she is. It's 57 seconds when you see Sara for the first time. At 1:09, it is revealed that she will be part of this new team of "legends" as the White Canary. They refer to her as the "deceased assassin" and show shots of her rising from the Lazarus Pit. Oh. Well there we go. I guess this is a lesson in patience, which is why I didn't give up on the show. However, even with this in mind that I was right about Sara coming back by being raised from the dead in the Lazarus Pit, this death of hers caused a chain of events that I just wasn't pleased with. The first is Olicity. If you don't know that term, Olicity is the romance between Oliver and Felicity. This split Arrow fans and I'm here to tell you that I am on the side that is 100 percent AGAINST this. I love Felicity. I think she's a great character. But I don't think she has any romantic chemistry with Oliver whatsoever. Oliver had way more chemistry with Sara in season 2. Felicity had way more chemistry with Ray as season 3 goes on. Heck, Felicity has more chemistry with Barry Allen and Oliver has more chemistry with the Huntress from the beginning of the show and even Nyssa al Ghul at the end of season 3. I'd even rather see him get back with Laurel. Olicity being a thing is a complete fan service and makes no sense with the story and just doesn't work for me at all. I like Felicity. I think she works great as Oliver's best friend and the computer expert of the team, but not as a love interest for Oliver. But yet it's happened. And now they are into it so far that I actually am hoping that Felicity gets killed off just so Olicity can end for good. That's how much I hate it.
The other thing that the death of Sara spawned is the emergence of Laurel Lance as the Black Canary. This is something that I saw coming from the very beginning of the show. See, I did this thing where I researched the Green Arrow comics so that I could be more knowledgeable about the show and in the comics, the Black Canary's alias is Dinah Laurel Lance. It only makes sense that the eventual game plan for the show would be to eventually include Laurel as part of team Arrow as Black Canary. Oliver even marries Laurel in the comics, so there's more hope that Olicity will end. However, despite this not being a surprise for me, I really didn't like how she became Black Canary in season 3. While Sara's character was well-developed and her progression in becoming Black Canary made sense, Laurel's did not make sense. In fact, it was rather rushed and forced. In fact, she goes from lawyer-type girl with no battle experience at all to being Black Canary just because her sister died. So she trains with a random dude and only a few episodes she has completely transformed? No. Just, no. It doesn't work. Then there's the idea that the best character on the show, Sara, was just used as a stepping stone for us to get to the real Black Canary? Ouch. That hurts.
So yeah. Just about everything the show decided to do with the whole Lance family in season 3 almost completely ruined this show. Sara will be back next season and hopefully they can redeem themselves. But I fear that they are just going to bring her back just to dish her off to this new show, Legends of Tomorrow, and not actually use her on Arrow. Guess that means Legends of Tomorrow will take precedence over Arrow. But we'll see. Speaking of that, let's talk about Atom. Ray Palmer. I actually really liked his character. He comes on the show, buys Oliver's company, and for the first half of the season you don't know if he is good or bad, which I liked. Then we realize that he is just a really likable character. The casting of Brandon Routh was an interesting one because he did play Superman in Superman Returns, thus when I see him I expect him to be Superman and not Atom, which since we're in the DC world it is a plausible thing for Superman to exist. But despite this, Ray Palmer works as a character. As I mentioned before, his love story with Felicity works much, much better than Olicity. I'm sad they ended that. I also like how he fails so much with his suit he builds, which gives a contrast to the likes of Tony Stark as Iron Man. Tony is a billionaire who builds a suit that makes him immediately unstoppable. You think that the same will happen with Ray in this universe, but it doesn't. I like that development. But my big concern with Ray Palmer as concerning this show is the same with Sara. Did they introduce him just to dump him off to Legends of Tomorrow. Is that what Arrow is becoming in general? A show that exists mainly to create a bunch of other shows? I hope not.
Can we talk about some good, real quick? Yes? Ok, cool! Then let's talk about our main story line in this season. Ra's al Ghul and the league of assassins. The league played a small part in previous seasons, which foreshadowed it being a much bigger element of the show in the future and that future started here in season 3. I pretty much loved most things pertaining to the league in this season. Season 2 with Slade Wilson as the main villain was excellent and I was wondering how they were planning on topping that going forward. I was definitely pleased that Ra's al Ghul was the answer. Matt Nable as Ra's al Ghul was especially a home run. He played such a great villain not just because of how strong and powerful he was, but also because of how smart he was and how unafraid he was to take everything from Oliver if Oliver didn't concede to what he wanted him to do, which was become the next Ra's al Ghul. Oliver has no choice but to do this. Join the League of Assassins and become Ra's al Ghul. Thus this whole plot had a very Batman-like feel to it, which was cool. If we can't bring Batman into this universe, the next best thing is.
I mentioned that I pretty much loved most things pertaining to the league this season. I do say "most" because there were a few things I didn't like. After wondering Oliver is going to actually become the next Ra's al Ghul and thus turn into the villain of the show for a while, we quickly learn that he has decided that the way to beat Ra's is to beat him from within. Join the league. Train with the league. Get Ra's al Ghul's trust. Then strike. This is a pretty darn good plan in my opinion. However, when team Arrow learns of this plot, they are pissed to no end because Oliver decided to keep this a complete secret. My first minor problem is that Oliver could've let his team in on this plan. My second minor problem is that team Arrow could've reacted much better when they learned of this. I think this was a very logical thing to do and instead of being pissed at him, they should've recognized that this was a dang good plan. But no. They decide to be all pissed off at him. I can understand being a little mad. But instead they just acted like whiny cry babies. Especially Diggle. "I'm never going to forgive you for this, Oliver." Oh shut-up Diggle. No cares about your crying. Probably more blame for that should go to the writers for turning such an awesome character in Diggle into such a big cry-baby.
So yes, as you could tell, this was a much more rocky season for me. During season 2, Arrow became my favorite show on TV. If I only had time to watch one of my shows for the week, Arrow would be the show that I would watch. Season 3 I didn't hate. I'm not ready to give up on the show. I am tuning into season 4 and I am excited to see where they go with things. But looking back on season 3 and comparing to the first two seasons, I do have to admit that this is the worst season of the three so far and I hope that they can pick things up and get this show back on track because it deserves to be epic again. I just think that the creators of the show saw how much people were loving the show and decided that they wanted to go even bigger and bolder than ever before and many of the decisions they made just didn't work for me. They need to take a few steps back and remember what made this show so great so that they can have a great season 4 that matches the level of epicness of the second season. I don't have a rating system for TV shows like I do movies, but overall this borders on the line of average, just below good. There were some really great moments of season 3, but there were even more extremely frustrating moments and thus towards the end of the season, I found myself being a lot more excited for The Flash each week. That review will be the next TV show review you'll get on this blog, so stay tuned!
Saturday, July 11, 2015
I won't inform you what this price is because I don't like spoiling movies for people on my blog unless I have already warned them early on in the review. This is not a spoiler review. No spoilers. However, if you have no interest in this movie and you just want to know what happens, go watch the trailer. It's all in there. Like pretty much the whole movie. I'm wondering when studios will ever learn that they DON'T need to spoil their movie to get people to see it. Seriously. But even so, if you just think about the potential outcomes of this movie, you can probably successfully think of exactly what is going to happen. That's one of the big problems here. I like a sci-fi thriller like this to surprise me by taking some crazy twists and turns. One of the best moments in film is that jaw-dropping moment where you can't believe what just happened. I wanted that to happen in this movie. It didn't. It was just a by-the-numbers sci-fi flick that does pretty much exactly what you would expect by reading the plot. No twist. No turns. Not even much suspense. It was just pretty boring and bland.
The other big problem is that when I go see a movie like this, I want it to actually be thought-provoking. When you leave a movie theater and you are just lost in thought by how deep and interesting the movie was, that's another really good moment in film. Nope. Not here. In fact, not to far into the movie it actually almost stopped being a sci-fi movie and just became a brainless action film. I was like, what? What's happening? Why is Ryan Reynolds suddenly a Jason Bourne-like action star? It didn't make sense. There was no build up. This new body this character was in wasn't this super athletic, coordinated action star. He was a family man. Well, kind of. But when Ben Kingsley turned Ryan Reynolds starts to figure things out, at that very second, this company is somehow right there and they try to stop him. And for some weird reason, they know exactly where he is going to be every step of the way before he even knows it. How everything turns out is even more ridiculous. I can do brainless action movies. But I have to be prepared for a brainless action movie. When a sci-fi thriller becomes a brainless action without hardly warning me, there's a problem. I could even dive more into the brainless part because there are a lot of plot holes and elements of the plot that just don't make sense, but I think you get my vibe.
Overall, this wasn't a movie that was hard to sit through, but it's not one that's worth your time or money. Ben Kingsley, Ryan Reynolds, and the other actors in this movie do a good job acting. The cinematography is fine. The idea of the movie is an interesting one, but that idea in someone's mind didn't translate to paper or film quite right. I'm not sure who to point to for blame. The movie is directed by Tarsem Singh and written by David and Alex Pastor. Those three might be good candidates for blame. But whatever the case, this just didn't work out. July is a pretty crowded month with Inside Out and Jurassic World acting as excellent June hangovers into a loaded month of huge new releases. Because of that, this movie didn't get a huge release and it's not getting a lot of attention. This is a good thing. There are a lot of great movies out right now and a lot of interesting ones coming up, so please do yourself a favor and forget about this movie. Don't see it. It's not worth it. There are too many movies out there that deserve being seen right now, so don't waste your time with this one. My grade for Self/less is a 5/10.