poor marketing got me on this one and it finally took me until now to sit down and watch it - it’s pretty fantastic. the music does indeed hearken back to the Disney Renaissance and the characterization puts the audience through it’s paces with not being predictable and staying entertaining throughout. the story was really great and the emphasis on Elsa and Anna and their relationship was fantastic and unrivaled in the rest of Disney’s catalog. Frozen was very much about two sisters and I think that’s actually a sign that Disney is going to start spreading out from typical story structure and the ‘damsel in distress’ model, which is exciting! and of course, Adele Dazeem rocks the house. love it love it love it.
4 out of 5.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past
fresh out the theater last night and I gotta say, if there’s a superhero film that better handles film and comic canon, as well as retconning most of that film canon - it’s this one. and not that it was a bad thing, FAR FROM IT. the movie was great! such a perfect blend of old and new utilizing the actual comic mechanics and source material and established characters. the action was well choreographed and the acting was spot-on. McAvoy and Fassbender lead the charge for sure, with Jennifer Lawrence also doing a great job. For a film with an actually pretty complicated time travel plot with lots of characters, it was very well balanced and pushes the characters forward very well (while teasing for what’s to come - STAY AFTER THE CREDITS). only thing is for people unfamiliar with ALL THE X-MEN it’s tough to keep everything straight and get what’s happening and who is who, but that’s really the whole thing with comic book films, isn’t it? you gon’ wanna catch this in the theatahs.
3.75 out of 5.
this was the teasy monster reboot that Godzilla needed. people have complained about all the teases and not enough actual monster fighting but COME ONNNNN there’s more movies where there can be plenty! this was about Godzilla coming back and showing off his majesty, which the film did great. the part that upset me was the lack of human anything - we had Bryan Cranston who was great, pulled me right in - but then the focus shifts to his doofy son? nah. overall though, the film was great and sitting in the audience for it was well worth the money. much cheering, very monster. wow.
So this is what we get when a great DP directs: a pretty sloppy and poorly structured ‘techno-fear’ nonsensical snooze fest. it was seriously just really boring and the character motivations (for the most part) were all really irrational. i felt like i was supposed to be afraid of what computer-Johnny Depp was doing, but they were legitimately all really good technological advancements that I’m pretty sure science is, for the most part, actually pursuing. the cinematography itself had it’s moments, but also was nothing even close to Nolan film status. Johnny Depp was a boring computer and Kate Mara was little more than a creepy idiot. there’s a reason this puppy flopped so hard, so I’d say just skip it whether you’re paying for it or not.
1 out of 5.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
this film, more so than Wes Anderson’s previous work (besides perhaps Fantastic Mr. Fox), is a very interesting piece of cinema: it’s an example of a director testing himself and working within his means to reach out of his comfort zone. this is Anderson’s murder-mystery that so well pays homage to detective serials, prison break films, and even films like Clue in it’s mission to keep you entertained every step of the way. the production design of his films get better and better and in no way is Grand Budapest an exception - the marriage of three different time periods exceeds in telling the story within a story within a story (within a story?) excellently and uses setting to further the plot and characterization better than even Life Aquatic. the editing was so perfect as well, twists come truly as surprises and the cast reveals itself throughout in a charming and hilarious fashion. don’t miss this one.
The Raid: Redemption
what we have here is incredibly directed and the most creatively choreographed fighting and storytelling in modern action history. The Raid is an incredible non-stop tour de force of martial arts fighting that’s brutal and fuels itself as it just keeps going and going for the ENTIRE film. I watched this so I could watch the sequel that ups the ante (and still need to do that) and I’m ready to see how the sequel builds upon this 30 floor foundation of pure martial perfection. this is almost a Die Hard-esque everyman vs. the world tribute and it works so well - the combination of shocking violence and personal inflection makes for a film that’s so incredibly entertaining and just keeps you shouting OHHHH AHHH *teeth sucking sound at the pain you can’t even imagine* it’s incredible, if you haven’t seen it you should fix that.
4.25 out of 5.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again - the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the most exciting thing happening at the movies right now. Further more, each film continues to raise the bar set by the last and Winter Soldier pushes that envelope even farther. Such a well-balanced and paced film, it does what a middle movie should and casts our characters (who’s backstories only get deeper and deeper i.e. Black Widow) further into shadow. Without S.H.I.E.L.D. the future of the MCU is in the balance - there’s so many stakes for these characters now! and what better time to turn the camera over to some unknowns with the Guardians Of The Galaxy who may or may not end up fighting alongside the Avengers eventually. GAHD this is so incredible, never before have so many films interacted amongst one another and every new Marvel film I see the more excited I am for the next.
this film literally took my breath away - several times. a documentary about Tim Jenison (of CGI, animation, VFX fame) searching for an answer to Johannes Vermeer’s cinematic-esque and seemingly impossible to recreate by hand paintings and his attempt to recreate ‘The Piano Lesson’ with his two hands that, up to his attempt, had painted exactly 3 oil paintings prior. the commitment and diligence in painting with the method he discovers (a combination of camera obscura, various optics, and mirrors) blows you away at both his efforts and the reality that this very well may have been Vermeer’s system. Tim’s stoic persona and creative editing bring a very nice touch (thank you Penn & Teller) and humor to what must have been totally agonizing at times. definitely worth the money to catch in theaters, but will be just as impactful on a smaller screen as well.
The Monuments Men
I agree with the majority of reviews on this one; while there were many very heartfelt and ‘big’ moments in the film highlighting the importance of the existence of art and its effect on humanity, it did feel very much like the story was lethargic and only serving those moments which left it pretty want at times for more to happen. apparently there is a good amount of editorial changes to the story from the real-life accounts of the ‘save the art’ mission for this team in WWII, but i do think this story is INSANELY interesting and even if this movie piques people’s interests to do more research, I’d say that’s still something important. i actually didn’t even know the whole ‘Hitler steals all the arts’ thing happened and now I know the military was a butthole about recovering it all but thank god it did get saved (most of it at least). this’ll be a wait for it on Netflix, but still worth watching when you can.
2 out of 5.
The Wind Rises
Unlike Miyazaki’s past ‘last films,’ this one very much feels like it. thematically and narratively, there are many hints that he’s ready to lay down the pencil and paper. the art, as always, is absolutely breathtaking for an animated film - these aren’t just cartoons, this is moving art. the combination of ink and paint is just so perfect and beautiful. i also really enjoyed the deeper focus on very personal relationships and characterization in this film and the anti-war message (still present) was not nearly as heavy-handed as in his past films, like Howl’s Moving Castle. the film really struck a chord with me and it’s probably at least in my top 4 Ghibli films and a damn good final step if this really is goodbye for Hayao Miyazaki.
The LEGO Movie
I almost have no words. I don’t even remember the last time I left a theater feeling so much want for more as when I walked out of The LEGO Movie. I was in the same awe watching this as when I was watching Gravity - just pure fascination with what I was seeing and how well the film wove nostalgia, quality storytelling, technical animation, and flawless writing into just a… perfect film for everybody. The message is just so basic and almost naive, and it really does fit LEGO perfectly. Five minutes into the movie and I knew it was gonna be special. Get in line to see this one, it’s ok I’ll be there too.
5 out of 5.
The Pretty One
This was a very off-beat and truly quirky film - there were a lot of moments that really reminded me of Eagle Vs. Shark, which is truly the most awkward film I’ve ever seen and there are definitely some moments in this that just have you grinding your teeth in cheesiness… BUT. BUT BUT. the twist is oh-so heavy and came at the perfect time. As for the dramatic action of the film, it’s not too terribly great, but it’s not bad either. This is a pretty run-of-the-mill festival feature that’s strength is its cast, really good casting. Other than that, nothing too tremendously special.
3 out of 5.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
I think a lot of people were probably coming to this to see the same kind of groundbreaking comedy that the first Anchorman was, which is kind of why it didn’t really do it for me… Even from the first trailer, the actors looked too old for their characters - and again, once I saw the film, each person was this cartoonized, caricatured version of themselves from the first film. A lot of the humor does kind of make you laugh out loud, because it’s the best take from a million other improvised takes that made it into the final cut and that’s another weakness - the scene transitions and back-and-forth is jarring most of the time and the edit feels very frankensteiny. The best part of the movie is the battle at the end with the rival networks again, so many actors from out of the cracks (Harrison Ford!). I would say worth the wait for it to get to Netflix.
2.5 out of 5.