I watch crappy movies so you don't have to.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Movie Reviews For April 24, 2015: THE AGE OF ADALINE, LITTLE BOY, TRUE STORY, CHILD 44 and EX MACHINA

THE AGE OF ADALINE
Rated: PG-13
Stars: Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Michiel Huisman
Plot: An accident causes a woman to stop aging and the effects of her condition make living a normal life impossible.
Trailer

Clint Says: Save some money and see a matinee


I am not a fan of films where implausible things happen. I'm fine with the impossible, because it's fiction. A woman that ends up not being able to age is an intriguing theme. I'm happy to suspend disbelief and enjoy the show in a case like that. Where I draw the line is when, and I'm not spoiling anything here that's not already in the trailer, said woman dates a man then decades later ends up running into that man because she is dating his son. The implausibility is cringe-worthy.

Aside from that the story is actually compelling and a nice love story. Blake Lively is wonderful in her role as Adaline, although her overly-proper speech pattern is somewhat distracting. It fits that her character being several decades older than she looks would talk like that, but it's tough to make one's brain reconcile the two.

This movie also has a very "sciencey" narrator that is endearing, annoying and unintentionally hilarious at once. In the screening I attended the audience laughed nearly every time he opened his mouth.

The film feels long even though it's not quite two hours long. It's fairly slow and at some times even boring, but there is enough that is compelling about it to bring you back into the story once it picks up again.

THE AGE OF ADALINE will give you plenty of eye-rolling moments, but it will also give you happy feels as well. If you like love stories with a twist, you'll most-likely like this film.




LITTLE BOY
Rated: PG-13
Stars: Jakob Salvati, Emily Watson, David Henrie, Tom Wilkinson, Kevin James
Plot: When a young boy's father goes off to fight in WWII, the boy will do anything to get his dad back home
Trailer

Clint Says: Wait until after opening weekend, but see this in theaters


This is a beautifully done story of faith, hope and love. The story is told well, the acting is spot on, and even though it is a little too saccharin sweet it's heartwarming and enjoyable.

Jakob Salvati is an absolute joy to watch throughout the film. His happiness, faith and innocence will put a smile on your face that can only be taken away by the ravages of war and hatred.

The film does a nice job of paralleling the intertwined stories and making you really feel for the characters.In fact there is a nice character depth to almost all of the main players.

There are some thematic elements that make this a PG-13 film, so it isn't a film for the whole family, but it is one that I would take my children to see because it may open up some lines of dialogue about faith and prejudice.

LITTLE BOY is a great choice this weekend. It will make you smile, but you need to bring some tissues as well.




TRUE STORY
Rated: R
Stars: Jonah Hill, James Franco, Felicity Jones
Plot: A journalist meets and begins to tell the story of a man that murdered his own family, but then took on the identity of the journalist
Trailer

Clint Says: See this in theaters soon


This is a creepy, fascinating, and thrilling flick that will keep you guessing and engaged throughout. Jonah Hill and James Franco prove that they are truly exemplary actors and so much better than the dumb comedies they do. Felicity Jones proves once again that she is one of Hollywood's best. In fact, she may have the most compelling scene in the film aside from Franco's courtroom testimony.

This is not a fast-paced movie at all, but it doesn't feel slow either. There isn't a lot of action, but the compelling nature in which the story is told makes this a film worth the time and money to see it.

This film may not be as suspenseful if you already know the actual story, but if you are walking into it unaware, like I did, you will be pleasantly surprised by the intriguing story.

I hope Hill and Franco give us more movies like this in the future.




CHILD 44
Rated: R
Stars: Tom Hardy, Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace
Plot: A disgraced member of Stalin's police force tries to solve a serial killer case in a Russia that is told that murder is not possible
Trailer

Clint Says: Wait for the DVD


This is one of those films where the trailer is so much better than the movie. I'm not saying the movie was bad, but it could have been so much better. If I'm going to sit through a two-plus hour, post-WWII, Russian period piece I need it to be overly compelling. This one is not.

There are a lot of great things about things film, not the least of which is the incredible acting by Tom Hardy and Joel Kinnaman. The cinematography is outstanding as well. I just wish the plot could have been more action-oriented and thrilling.

Typically in a murder-mystery style film there is a lot of suspense in the chase. In this case there is very little. In fact, the only real suspense comes outside of the hunt for the killer. If the hunt had been executed better this might have been an Oscar contender.

I would love to recommend seeing this film just because the cast is so amazing, but honestly, you won't miss anything by waiting until the DVD comes out. At that point though, I highly recommend seeing CHILD 44.




EX MACHINA
Rated: R
Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander
Plot: A young computer genius is tasked with working with an artificial intelligence being, but things don't turn out like they planned
Trailer

Clint Says: See this in theaters if you like slow-moving, but deep-thinking Sci-fi


This is one of the most intriguing, thought-provoking, and disturbing science fiction films I've seen in a long time. It is slow-paced and, of course, they go with a created artificial intelligence being that is the most beautiful woman to ever walk the planet, but aside from that it's a unique plot with great twists.

Oscar Isaac is outstanding in this film, which personally makes me very happy, because up to this point I haven't liked him in anything, but I'm a huge STAR WARS fan and he's starring in the new one. This gives me hope that he will be a good fit for that role.

Domhnall Gleeson does a fine job as well. He is a perfect fit for these brain-squeezing thrillers.

This film will make you think, cringe, squirm, and leave you dumbfounded in a good way when it's all over. It's a disturbing yet engaging film that will stick in your head for several days after you see it.

One warning: There is a lot of graphic nudity in this film.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

DVD Review For April 21, 2015: TAKEN 3

TAKEN 3
Rated: PG-13
Stars: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Forest Whitaker
Plot: An ex-Government Operative must stay on the run until he can clear his name from crime he didn't commit.
Trailer

Clint Says: Rent it when you have the time


One can only hope that this will be the final installment in the TAKEN franchise. The first film was great, the second was a carbon copy of the first, and while this one actually has a different plot, it has the same feel, action and dialogue as the first two.

It does have a couple of interesting twists and turns, but it also has several eye-rolling moments that take away from the excitement of the film. It's tough to be in suspense when you know that no matter how many adversaries the main character is facing, he's still going to be okay.

The ending to this trilogy could have been a lot worse than this offering, and for that I guess we should be somewhat thankful, but it is still an average flick at best.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Movie Review For April 17, 2015: PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2, MONKEY KINGDOM, and UNFRIENDED

PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2
Rated: PG
Stars: Kevin James, Raini Rodriguez
Plot: Paul Blart heads to Las Vegas for a vacation, but being a security guard is a full-time job.
Trailer

Clint Says: Wait for the DVD


I can't begin to tell you how excited I was for this movie to finally be released. Not because I wanted to see it, but because I've now seen the trailer about 150 times. Finally I can move on.

If you saw the original PAUL BLART MALL COP, just stop now and be happy. PBMC2 is nothing more than a rehash of the same jokes in the original film, but this movie has less heart and less drama.

There are a few very funny moments, but not enough to make it worth spending theater ticket prices to see it. On top of that, the plot is paper thin, the motivation for the bad guys is ridiculously weak, the love interest makes no sense at all, and there isn't even a decent twist to keep you guessing.

This is one of those films where the trailer is not only better than the actual movie, but you see all you need to know in the trailer.

Save your money on this one and we will all hope that the other cop comedies coming out this summer will be better than this.




UNFRIENDED
Rated: R
Stars: Shelley Hennig, Jacob Wysocki, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Moses Jacob Storm
Plot: A group of friends are haunted by an evil spirit while they Skype with each other
Trailer

Clint Says: Don't even bother


This may be the lamest excuse for a horror movie I have ever seen. And that is saying something. But one of the reasons I love movies so much is because everyone has their own opinions and taste. As I was walking out of the theater positive I had just witnessed on of the worst movies of 2015, I saw a fellow movie reviewer and friend and asked him what he thought. He said, "It was brilliant! One of the move unique films I've ever seen." It's fascinating how two people can see the same thing in two completely different ways.

I will say that the premise is quite intriguing, but the execution is lacking greatly. Clocking in at only 82 minutes, this film is mercifully short, but it could have been 20 minutes shorter and still accomplished the same thing. It's slow, boring, barely dramatic and even less scary than it is dramatic.

The actors, for the most part, do a fine job in their roles. But there is only so much a person can handle when it comes to six teens screaming at each other on Skype. It was like I had entered the third level of Whiny People Hell.

Honestly, I think the only person in our theater that was even the slightest bit scared was a toddler. (Side note: What kind of idiot brings a toddler to an R-rated horror flick?!) And even that kid only cried twice.




MONKEY KINGDOM
Rated: G
Stars: Tina Fey
Plot: The story of a young monkey and mother trying to survive in ancient ruins in South Asia
Trailer

Clint Says: Wait for the DVD


These DisneyNature films are always very well done and interesting and MONKEY KINGDOM is no exception, but like the others, there isn't anything in the movie that makes it so compelling that you have to see it in theaters. You will get the same effect and joy by watching this in your own living room four months from now that you would get by seeing it this weekend.

Really, the only reason to see it in theaters is because part of the ticket sales go to helping the monkeys survive. But if that is really something that concerns you, then just donate the full price of a ticket and then wait for the DVD.

As with most DisneyNature films, make sure you stick around through the credits. they show the camera crews working closely with the animals. To me it is the most intriguing part of the whole movie.

This film is safe and enjoyable for the whole family, so if you are looking for an outing this would be a good choice. Just don't expect your kids to walk out of it like they had just seen FROZEN.

Monday, April 13, 2015

DVD Review For April 13, 2015: WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH and BIG EYES

THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH
Rated: PG-13
Stars: Helen McCrory, Jeremy Irvine, Phoebe Fox
Plot: A group of WWII child evacuees are placed at Eel Marsh mansion re-awakening the evil within.
Trailer

Clint Says: Rent this if you haven't seen the first one


The first film in this franchise, starring Daniel Radcliffe, was one of the creepiest and well done horror movies I have ever seen. It was dark and sinister, but not overly dramatic. Nor was it full of the usual scary movie hack tricks to make it seem scarier.

This film is exactly the same as the first one. That's good in that it is really creepy and well done, but it's bad because it doesn't further the story at all. It's all of the same stuff for the same reason 40 years later. Also, the climactic scene got a huge eye roll from me as I'm sure it will from most attendees.

If you haven't seen the first one, you can jump right in with this one and it will scare you stiff. If you have seen the first one you may want to go ahead and skip this one since there is nothing new for you to enjoy.

They set it up for a third film, which I understand from a business standpoint, because this franchise will make a ton of cash for the studio, but unless there is a significant plot change it will probably just be more of the same.




BIG EYES
Rated: R
Stars: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz
Plot: A woman's paintings start to become very popular, but her husband takes credit for them.
Trailer

Clint Says: Rent this today


Whether you remember the actual Big Eyes phenomenon or not this movie will touch you. Waltz and Adams are outstanding in their respective roles as an overbearing con artist and a beaten down artist.

The film is pretty straight forward, especially for a Tim Burton flick, but he does inject his special flair for the odd throughout the film.

For a movie about painting, it is surprisingly fast-paced and the tempo really never lets down. It's full of drama and suspense and the story is as compelling as a high-value art heist. It's just an art heist done in a subtle way.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Movie Review For April 12, 2015: WOMAN IN GOLD

WOMAN IN GOLD
Rated: PG-13
Stars: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds
Plot: An Austrian-born woman living in America fights the Austrian government to return a highly-prized portrait of her aunt to her family 60 years after it was stolen by the Nazis.
Trailer

Clint Says: Go see this as soon as you can


This is one of those interesting films that, had it been in the right hands, could have ended up on the short list of Oscar consideration. Unfortunately, instead of being truly spectacular like THE IMITATION GAME it falls more into the slightly above average category like MONUMENTS MEN.

Mirren and Reynolds do an outstanding job, but the writing and directing fall short. That said, this is an important film that you should see in order to understand even more of the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

Based on a true story, this film is emotional, powerful and, at times, hard to watch, but it is well worth enduring the uncomfortable parts to understand the struggle that so many European Jews suffered.

If you have teens, I would highly recommend taking them to see WOMAN IN GOLD. It may lead to some interesting and dynamic conversations.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Movie Review For April 10, 2015: THE LONGEST RIDE, DANNY COLLINS, WHILE WE'RE YOUNG

THE LONGEST RIDE
Rated: PG-13
Stars: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Alan Alda
Plot: A Professional Bull Rider and an art lover build a relationship with the help of love letters written from a man to his wife in the 1940s.
Trailer

Clint Says: Nicholas Sparks fans will love it, everyone else stay away


THE LONGEST RIDE is Nicholas Sparks at his sparkiest. Basically, if you loved SAFE HAVEN you will ooze happiness at the end of this movie. If you hated THE BEST OF ME you would be better off trying to ride a bull than watch this flick.

Nicholas Sparks's movies and books are the definition of formulaic. Personally, they have zero appeal for me. I like surprises and twists when I watch something, but I am not the target audience for his art so it doesn't really matter what I think when it comes to the plot. However, I can speak to the quality of the film.

Britt Robertson does a great job in her lead role. I'm sure we will see her getting more roles from Hollywood now. Scott Eastwood does a decent job, but really his job is to be eye candy, and at that he excels.

One of the things that drives me crazy in movies are continuity errors. This film may have one of the biggest I've ever seen. Our hero manages to drive from Nashville, TN to Winston-Salem, NC, still in his bull riding uniform, in a matter of minutes. Mr. Director, bookmark Google Maps and use it on occasion.

Then there is the bull snot scene. You did not read that wrong. A. BULL. SNOT. SCENE.  Dear reader, I can not even begin to convey to you how ridiculous and disgusting the bull snot scene is. Why the director decided that it was a good idea to give us slow-motion, full-frame footage of bull snot flying through the air we may never know, but it's there for all of us to endure.

The film had several funny moments, some on purpose, most not. If you can make it through the bull-riding man/oil drum-riding woman/man and woman riding each other montage without having your own bull snot moment, you are a better person than I.

Clocking in at 2 hours 8 minutes, THE LONGEST RIDE really is just that.




DANNY COLLINS
Rated: R
Stars: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Garner
Plot: An aging rock star is giving a life-changing letter that leads him to connecting with his adult son and family.
Trailer

Clint Says: If you can find this movie, go see it now


To be honest, when I saw the trailer for this film I thought it looked okay, but it didn't seem to be much more than an old-people-find-love-while-teaching-each-other-life-lessons flick. I'm glad it is so much more than that.

Al Pacino does a nice job, but Bobby Cannavale completely steals the show. He is spectacular. I wouldn't go so far as to say his performance is award-worthy, but it is absolutely worth the price of admission.

This film is heartwarming, dramatic, funny, heartbreaking and beautiful. I laughed out loud, I came really close to crying (which is saying a lot because I rarely cry at movies), and I held my breath in suspense. This story is told so well that I even cared about the hotel valet and receptionist.

I am still reeling at the ending of this film. It is one of those amazing moments in film when everything comes together, great actors, great acting, great writing, and great directing leading to a scene that is so full of tension, drama and suspense that you feel like the screen is going to explode. And if it doesn't, you just might.

Throw on top of all of that a John Lennon-led soundtrack and you've got a movie well worth seeing.




WHILE WE'RE YOUNG
Rated: R
Stars: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried
Plot: A forty-something couple begins hanging out with a twenty-something couple, but things aren't what they seem
Trailer

Clint Says: Wait for the DVD


If this film had condensed the first hour into about 10 minutes and then gotten to the last 45 minutes it would have been a much better movie. Unfortunately, by the time I sat through the first hour I pretty much just wanted it to end.

It felt like Ben Stiller was just going through the motions, Naomi Watts didn't really add much to the story, and Amanda Seyfried wasn't used to her full potential. Adam Driver, on the other hand, was incredible, as usual.

While I did like the twist that completely blindsided me, it wasn't enough to overcome the mundane feel and pace of the rest of the film. There is nothing in it that would make it necessary to see in theaters, so save your money and wait for the DVD. But even then it probably won't be worth it, unless you just fast forward to all of the Adam Driver moments.

NOTE: For my Nashville readers, this is only playing at The Belcourt.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

DVD Review For April 7, 2015: A MOST VIOLENT YEAR

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR
Rated: R
Stars: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo
Plot: A heating oil company owner finds himself in a turf war and a battle with the authorities in 1981 New York City.
Trailer

Clint Says: Rent it if you have a couple of hours to kill


Jessica Chastain gives an outstanding, award-worthy performance in this otherwise lackluster film. With a title like A MOST VIOLENT YEAR you'd think there would be a good bit of violence. Well, you'd be wrong. Most of the violence takes place off camera and even then it's pretty tame.

My main thought as I walked out of the theater was, "Who knew the heating oil business was so rough?" I wish I had been thinking, "Wow, what an incredible movie."

The film is slow, tame and the ending is exceptionally anti-climactic. I would say it's a two-hour waste of your time, but that would be unfair to Chastain's performance. She makes the film tolerable.