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Film Geek’s 5 Sentence Reviews!


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Gravity

Gravity

Of the 80 plus films I have seen so far in 2013, this will be only the second one this year to get a perfect grade from me. When Jurassic Park came out, do you remember how it forever changed the way you would view Dinosaurs in films? That’s pretty much what Gravity does for the way you will perceive outer space from this point forward. Not only is this film a technological wonder, it also invests you emotionally in the film in a way that only enhances the overall marvel you are witnessing unfold onscreen. This film is a masterpiece, a film that uses 3D better than any film to date, and hopefully a film that will dominate the Oscars this year as I would be amazed if a better film hits the theaters between now and the end of the year.

GRADE = A+

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RUSH

Rush

One of the best compliments you can give a film is when it takes subject matter that you could generally care less about in real life and finds a way to make it compelling to you on the big screen. This is exactly what Ron Howards was able to do with Formula Three racing in the film ‘Rush’. It helps that this is based on a true story that was just as compelling in real life as the way it played out on the screen. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl were just about a perfect casting as you could get for James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Specials props to Ron Howard for deciding to incorporate real footage of the actual races and James and Niki into the film as for me it definitely add an extra bit of weight to the overall impact the film had on me.

GRADE = B

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Don Jon

As I was watching this, I couldn’t help but wonder what JGLs parents thought about this film when they first screened it. Not even just because their son was the star of it, but more to point that every line of dialogue was crafted by him as well (not to even mention he also directed it as well). There may come a point where you start to ask yourself what the point of the film even is, and by the end, trust me when I say that a point is definitely made. JGL has clearly been a super talented actor for quite some time as he managed to survive the transition from successful childhood to successful adult actor. What’s been made clear with this film as is that he can now be considered a triple threat with his ability to write and direct with very remarkable precision. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what he has in store for us next from a directorial stand point, as ‘Don Jon’ is a nice indication of the potential he has to build upon.

GRADE = B+

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Insidious3

Insidious 2

While a pretty big fan of the first film, although this isn’t as good as the original, it’s not too far off the mark. Critics have seemed to relish in attacking this film, and to be honest, I just don’t get why. I think it’s a strong sequel in all the ways it should be, tying in key events from the original, while at the same time expanding on the mythology of this familiar and their history. There is some tweaking with the time line that while doesn’t even remotely make sense, is still clever in the way it ties certain events together. I must say that even though I enjoyed this film, I wasn’t crazy about the cliff hanger ending, and would almost prefer they end things now as opposed to going the Paranormal Activity route and really diminishing the original film by producing weaker and weaker sequels as time progresses.

GRADE = B

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Prisoners

Prisoners

This film was so great on so many levels, it’s hard to level and harsh criticism towards it. From the story, to the performances, everything and everyone just seemed to hit the right note for me from the first frame to the last. I do have one or two nitpicks about character development, but I can’t really even tough on them though as it enters serious spoiler territory. Some people might think this is an outlandish statement, but it reminded me a lot of Silence of the Lambs, in that for me, both films seem to share a lot of the same traits that I love about both films. While it can be a tough film to sit through, I think in the end it is an ultimately rewarding film that executes on just about every level you would hope it would.

GRADE = A

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RIDDICK

Riddick

My favorite of the three films by far. ‘Riddick’ does a nice job of tying into both of the previous films, while at the same time not allowing them to serve as an anchor and bring the momentum down in this one. When you stop and consider that Pitch Black came out thirteen years ago and Chronicles of Riddick came out nine years ago, Vin Diesel’s ability to jump back into this character with such ease after such a long absence seems almost timeless. It’s clear why he has so much fun playing this character as it allows him to showcase the qualities that his fans are most endeared to. It was a why decision for Diesel and Twohy to show Riddick’s more vulnerable side this time around while also maintaining the fact that he is one bad ass motherfucker who can’t be taken out by anyone at the end of the day.

GRADE = B

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YOURE-NEXT

You’re Next

Don’t buy into the hype. While this film is enjoyable on some level, it certainly isn’t the genre bending film that some have made it out to be. I think the my main issue with this film is that while it does a few things good, it never does anything great. The casting is a bit suspect to me, and despite Sharni Vinson who plays Erin (the films heroine), everyone else pretty much fell flat for me. The studio marketed this film well enough to trick me into thinking there was going to be more to this film, but given it only finished 7th at the box office this past weekend, they didn’t do a good job of tricking the general film going audience as well.

GRADE = B-

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InAWorld

In a World

I love, love, loved this film and pretty much walked into it blind to begin with (what I would give to have a decent indie theater closer to home…). Lake Bell has turned me into a huge fan of hers as I really kind of fell in love with her while watching this funny and touching film. The fact that she wrote and directed it as well just serves as even a bigger turn on for me as she has the talent to match her looks, humor, and charm. Every year at least one film sneaks up on me and end up on my top ten list, and this almost surely will end up being that film for 2013. I am never one to understate the importance of a strong supporting cast, and this film is a prime example of how a supporting cast that’s busting with comedic talent to spare can really elevate a film to a whole other level of greatness.

GRADE = A

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ActofKilling

The Act of Killing

This SHOULD win the film for Best Documentary this year. This is a film that really needs to be seen to believed, as if you were you ever to end up watching it and not aware it was a documentary, you would never buy in to some of the things that take place in this film as they are just pretty much unfathomable. This film WILL stick with you, and will haunt you long after you walk out of the theater, but it is still a film that needs to be seen. When a film has you thinking about your life and feeling appreciative for even the shittiest days you have had to endure, that’s a pretty powerful thing. I am in no way done with this film as I feel compelled now to learn more about the past events it didn’t touch on, and the future ramifications that will reverberate due to the fact that this film was ever made in the first place,

GRADE = A

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The_Spectacular_Now

The Spectacular Now

I had heard great things about this film, but part of me started to wonder if I am maybe at an age where I might feel a bit disconnected while watching a film about two seventeen year olds that fall in love with one another. Having now seen it, I can say that as long as the acting and story is solid, it’s not a problem for me, regardless of my age. I liked Shailene Woodley in ‘The Descendants’, but never would have thought twice about it had she been passed up when Oscar nominations were announced in 2011. I found her to be just really wonderful in this film however and would actually love to see her land her second nomination in just three short years. This film ultimately didn’t live up to the hype for me, but it was still a really solid film, and one that is definitely worth your time and attention.

GRADE = B+

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TWE

The World’s End

Let me start off by saying that this will indeed be the most biased review I end up writing this year. I have more history tied up with Edgar, Simon, and Nick than most of their biggest fans in the world, and make no mistake, I am one of their biggest fans you will ever meet (check out the link at the end of this review). This is in fact my favorite film of 2013 so far, but make no mistake, it has earned that distinction in every way possible. It’s funny, exciting, and heart breaking all at the same time, and just like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, the stakes always feel high, and the characters and the situations they find themselves in should never be taken for granted. While this film may not be for everyone, I would still urge everyone to give it a chance, and these three talents have crafted one of the sharpest and well-made trilogies that I have ever been fortunate enough to see.

GRADE = A+

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jobs

Jobs

If this review comes off as boring, my apologies, as the only reason it might be would be because I was equally as bored sitting through this film. Jobs starts off shaky (do I really want or need to see Ashton Kutcher on an LSD trip?), and never really gets its footing at any point throughout the film. The one stand out for me was Josh Gad, which is bad news for the filmmakers as I would have much rather been sitting in the theater watching a film called “Woz’ that focused on his story as opposed to that of Steve Jobs. Kutcher wasn’t bad, so don’t assume the problem with the film has everything to do with him (although that would be a fair assumption). The script is just as bland as can be, and knowing that Aaron Sorkin is working on his own script detailing the same events, it just makes me wish I had held off on even seeing this film all together as I have no doubt that his project, if anything else, will be a far more entertaining film to watch.

GRADE = C

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Kick-Ass-2-Poster

Kick-Ass 2

The original Kick Ass was a far superior film in my opinion, and for me the main reason why is that Matthew Vaughn is a far more talented director whose attention to detail really set that film apart. Comparing this film to the original is much like comparing The Hobbit to Return of the King, whereas both follow ups took many short cuts that ultimately hindered my overall enjoyment of their respective sequels. The stories are extremely similar as they follow the basic path, although I will say that not having read the second series, this film did manage to catch me off guard (in a good way) a couple of times when certain key events take place. I feel like had Vaughn directed this film, it could have been better than the original, and that’s because when you watch the ‘making of’ documentary on the blu-ray of Kick Ass, you can clearly see he’s passionate about the film and its source material. Another thing to point out, and maybe it’s just me, but the 11 year old Chloe Moretz seemed to do a much better job of portraying Hit Girl in all her bad assery as opposed to her 15 year old counterpart.

GRADE = B

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2 Guns

Better than I expected would be a good way to start this review. It was a fun little movie, and is carried by the performances given by Washington and Wahlberg whose chemistry is the best thing this film has going for it. There’s no earth shattering twist, nor are there huge set pieces that will stick in your memory, but for what this film tries to accomplish, it does so almost without fault. Given how numb I am to big budget spectacles that have buried us at the movie theaters this summer, this film just comes off as a breath of fresh air. Two Guns also serves as a reminder that a film that doesn’t try to do much, but at the same time makes sure it does little things right, can be far more entertaining than a film that spends $230 million and can’t seem to do anything right at all (ahem, Lone Ranger).

GRADE = B+

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Elysium

Elysium

In just two films, Neil Blomkamp has solidified himself as one of the most original and visionary directors of his generation. Elysium may ultimately not be able to top District 9 in my heart, but it easily falls into my top 10 films of 2013, and most likely into my top five sci-fi films of the past decade. On top of two amazing films, he is responsible for introducing the world to Shartlo Copley, an actor who I have completely fallen in love with, and will be the sole reason I end up seeing Spike Lee’s abomination of a remake of ‘Oldboy’. Blomkamps attention to detail is unmatched, and it appears that he is able to produce everything on screen that his mind is able to conjure when crafting these films. I can’t recommend this film highly enough, as with all the sequels and remakes we are forced to endure, a film and story this unique is sadly becoming more and more a rarity these days.

GRADE = A+

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were_the_millers

We’re The Millers

Based on the trailers, I had it pegged for the funniest film of the summer. With everything said and done, I would have to place it 3rd, just behind ‘The Heat’ and ‘This is the End’, with Rogen’s and Baruchel’s instant classic taking the comedy crown. Jason Sudekis was the MVP for me as the Aniston didn’t offer near as much comedically as he did, although her MILF like qualities were key to making her character work onscreen. Kudos to whoever cast Will Poulter as Kenny however as his character provided not only the heart, but also some of the funniest moments of the film. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how great Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn were, and it’s strong supporting talents like theirs that help elevate this film to something better than it certainly would be without their comedic presence.

GRADE = B+

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The Way Way Back

This was a good film, but not a great film like I really had anticipated it being. Written by Jim Rash and Nate Faxon (the same guys who wrote ‘The Descendants’ in 2011), I just had really high expectations for the journey these guys would take me on, and ultimately was very underwhelmed.. It almost just seemed to be a very paint by the numbers film that was unable to surprise or enlighten me at point as the film progressed. The one stand out however was Sam Rockwell as he continues to prove that he is one of the most under appreciated actors in Hollywood. And the ending… obviously I won’t spoil anything for you, but sadly I was not happy with it at all and left the theater with a very empty feeling about the film I had just sat through, and that is just never a good thing.

GRADE = B

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kinopoisk.ru

The To Do List

Not that I ever really had one, but if I did, my crush on Aubrey Plaza would officially be over. This movie may have succeeded had I given two shits about her character or her quest to slut it up, but I just could care less about her and her schizophrenic vagina . Worse though was that the movie just wasn’t funny, save for an awesome performance Bill Hader who singlehandedly saved the film from being a complete waste of my time. I think I understand what the director was going for, but bad casting and a lack luster script didn’t do her any favors. Aubrey better find a script that allows her to show a likable side of herself soon before she disappears before she ever really ever had a chance to truly make it.

GRADE = C

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WolveVerA_Poster_rgb

The Wolverine

FINALLY, a Wolverine movie that doesn’t want to make me shove my head up my ass as I try to defend the character as my favorite hero in the Marvel universe! Basically this film executed everything correctly that the last film botched up beyond recognition. It’s almost impossible to argue that they exist in the same timeline they are so drastically different from one another from the tone to the more realistic and grounded approach to the character that this film takes. This film had the most intimate tone of any Marvel to date, and I imagine this what what Ang Lee was going for in his ‘Hulk’ film, but missed his target wide right. To complement the more sophisticated story, acting, and great direction by James Mangold, the film rewards fan with some amazing set pieces that let the character of Wolverine truly shine in all his berserker rage glory , and also finally gives Hugh Jackman the character I imagine he has truly wanted to play in finally his fifth appearance as Wolverine on the big screen.

BONUS SENTENCE: Stay for the post credits sequence that starts about two minutes after the credits role as is rivals ‘Fast and Furious 6’ for the best post credits sequence of the year!

GRADE = A

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RED2

Red 2

Not a fan of the first one, I’d be lying if I said I was in anyway looking forward to sitting through a sequel. To my utter surprise, this was actually quite a funny and enjoyable film to watch. Let’s put it this way, it was about 20 times more enjoyable than the last Die Hard film was. Not being a fan of Catherine Zeta Jones, she would be this only misstep in the way of casting. Even if you weren’t a fan of the first film, or never even saw it, don’t let that stop you from checking out this film as I believe it gives you enough to make the journey worthwhile.

GRADE = B+

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the-conjuring-movie-poster

The Conjuring

A victim of its own hype, The Conjuring is not as scary or as terrifying as the trailers gave me hope that it might be. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very good movie, but I found Insidious to be much more effective in provoking paranormal scares. The thing that gave me hope was that the MPAA gave it an R rating based not due to language, nudity, or violence, but simply for how scary it was. If you Google about the Warren’s you will see how the film manipulates history by intensifying details from the events that took place (like the appearance of the doll for example). I don’t have a problem with that however as it is a films and its ultimate purpose is to entertain, and in that regard it completely succeeded.

GRADE = B+

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GrownUps2

Grown Ups 2

I am one of the biggest Adam Sandler apologists you will find, but this film was just not very funny, even when compared to the first film. If you saw the trailer, then you pretty much saw the funniest parts of the film condensed into 2 minutes and 30 seconds. It kind of bummed me out that Rob Schneider was not a part of this film, especially since this film is just basically Sandler and his best friends getting paid loads of money to goof off. I love all of the rotating actors he features in his films, but this might be the first film where he actually tried to cram every single one of them into the picture (except of course Schneider), and it definitely gave it a bloated vibe with everyone just waiting their turn to say something stupid and wink into the camera. Not very funny, not at all inspired, and basically just kind of a drag when you walk out realizing you wasted good money and time to see everyone just phone it in for an easy pay day.

GRADE = C-

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PacificRim_reg

Pacific Rim

This film kicked so much ass that any faults that can be found with story or character development are easily forgiven. Del Toro and the effects team just absolutely knock it out of the park as far as creature and robot design go as the images that are on display are simply gorgeous and need to be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated. Within the first five minutes, my expectations as far as the story go were completely thrown for a loop which I was extremely happy about. The characters were a bit shallow, and the film is ever so predictable, but Idris Elba is the man, and Ron Pearlman and Charlie Day add a ton of energy and humor to the occasion. Go see this in the theaters as it’s well worth your money, and whatever you do, STICK AROUND FOR THE BONUS SCENE THAT STARTS SHORTLY AFTER THE CREDITS START ROLLING!

GRADE = A

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Let-Me-Explain_000

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain

Kevin’s stand-up act runs around 60 minutes. The biggest problem with this film is that it’s 75 minutes long, and the first 15 minutes are just an utter bore as Hart loves congratulating himself for being loved all over the world. As for his actual standup act, it’s strong, but it’s definitely not near as entertaining as ‘The Kings of Comedy’ was (the last stand up comedy act I saw in the theater). The audio was a bit off for me, and you can definitely wait to see this one at home where it’s probably better suited to be seen anyway. I just wish Louis CK would put his act on the big screen as he is probably my favorite stand-up comedian of all time.

GRADE = B-

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kings_of_summer

The Kings of Summer

It’s my hope every year that I walk into a theater for a small film that I know relatively nothing about and walk out with a contender for my tops films of the year list. This year, ‘The Kings of Summer’ definitely fulfills that desire. An original film to say the least, it’s one of the better coming of ages stories I have seen in years, but offers so much more than just that. The three leads are great, but the director does an amazing job of surrounding them with supporting comedic talent that never allows the film to feel sluggish or off course. I loved this film, and would recommend to anyone who is lucky enough to have it playing near them!

GRADE = A

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Much Ado About Nothing

Leave it to Whedon to craft the most accessible film based on Shakespeare’s work that I have seen to date. With the exception of a somewhat lacking Benedict, the cast is so great, and Whedon adds his own little flourishes that make this film really stand out. Given that it was shot in just twelve days never ceases to impress me. More diehard fans of Shakespeare may find more to nitpick over, but for me, this was a wonderful little film that might be the most accessible film adaptation of his work to date. If you don’t know much about Shakespeare but are just a fan of Whedon’s in general, definitely check it out as you are bound to enjoy the performances even if you find yourself struggling at times with the language.

GRADE = A-

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despicableme2_3

Despicable Me 2

Not a huge fan of the first film, I found this one to be more enjoyable as the film makers did a good job a figuring out what worked best in the first film and supplied the sequel with a much heftier dose. The minions feel like they should be annoying, but damn if they don’t end up stealing the movie. They may very well wear out their welcome when they get their own film, but only time will tell for sure. Kristen Wiig added much to this film, although for the second time in this series, I found the villain to be somewhat lacking. Ultimately it doesn’t have the heart to beat out Monsters University as my favorite animated film of the year, but it is still an undeniably fun time at the theater (if it’s not being overrun by annoying little rug rats of course).

GRADE = B+

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theloneranger

The Lone Ranger

I have to preface this review by saying that Uncle Jesse from ‘The Dukes of Hazard’ was sitting right behind me during this film. He apparently felt the need the laugh after every line of dialogue spoken throughout the entire film. He also loved repeating dialogue out loud that he found especially funny. This movie was awful in its own right without him helping to ruin the experience, but it’s possible that had he not been sitting directly behind me, my dislike for this film may have been just a little bit less.

This film was too long, too boring, and Disney is most likely going to pay for it because they are going to lose a boatload of money from it when fans read reviews like this one and decide to take a pass. Disney needs to learn a lesson that simply placing Johnny Depp in your film does not guarantee its success, and you actually have to make sure all of the pieces are in place that are required for a film to be great. Armie Hammer is just not ready to carry a franchise (although he has far more potential than the box office poison that is known as Taylor Kitsch). There’s this whole weird thing with an older Tonto that happens throughout the film which was beyond pointless and just dragged the film out to a completely unacceptable 149 excruciating minutes. I really thought with Gore Verbinski’s direction that this film had potential to be good, but the script just killed it to the point where no star, director, or bloated budget had any chance to save it.

GRADE = D

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monstersuniversity

Monsters University

Apparently I really wanted a sequel for Monsters Inc. and I never even knew it, because I completely fell in love with this film. I’m not the kind of person who likes to make brash exclamations when I walk out of the theater about what film is better or worse than another, but I really think that down the road, I will end up proffering this one to the original. How lucky are children of the future that will get to watch them in the correct order too? This film has cleansed the disappoint that was Brave, and the embarrassment that was Cars 2. My only hope now is that Pixar continues its streak with amazing sequels with Finding Dori, and hopefully one day, a new Incredibles film!

GRADE = A

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afterearth

After Earth

No, this actually wasn’t as bad as ‘The Last Airbender’, but it wasn’t far off either. Will Smith needs to quit trying to force feed the public his son and instead focus on his own career for a while. Jaden’s performance was pretty awful, and it just goes to show that it’s who you know, and not necessarily how talented you are in Hollywood. M. Night just needs to hurry up and make that long awaited sequel to ‘Unbreakable’ (easily the best film of his downward trajectory positioned career). Seriously though, how he keeps getting work is beyond me, especially when he is the director behind the worst Will Smith opening in the past 20 years.

GRADE = D

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Star Trek: Into Darkness

Better than its predecessor with all credit going to Benedict Cumberbatch as the film’s primary villain. Star Trek continues to best put to use the time travel loop hole it introduced in the first film that gives the writers the freedom to tweak key events in Star Trek’s history without disrupting the series original continuity. I am in no way a Trekkie, and have never been a fan of the show or the original films, but JJ’s Star Trek is a series I can just completely get behind. I can just imagine how disappointed Trek fans must be at his decision to leave the franchise to direct the next Star Wars film, as I felt exactly the same way when Bryan Singer abandoned the X-Men franchise to go over and ruin Superman for DC. The only real surprise to me with this film is that it didn’t do better business than the original as it is as least as good, if not better.

GRADE = A-

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Mud-Movie-Poster-Matthew-McConnaughey

Mud

This was the perfect film to bookend against Iron Man 3 on a crowded weekend at the cinema. Matthew McConaughey just continues to impress me with his recent run of great performances. I initially was disappointed to find out this wasn’t an ‘R’ rated film as I felt it might suffer from it, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Tye Sheridan gives one of the best childhood performances I have seen in many, many years. Just a superb little film that excels in pretty much every key area that is essential to making a great film.

Grade = A

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