The Hobbit : The Desolation of Smaug

 

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8/10

Coming from someone who is not a big fan of this series, i thoroughly enjoyed this film. This film has made walk away with the greatest feeling after seeing it, and that is for a few reasons. The first is that i was on the edge of my seat for this movie. The dragon Smaug is a great villain that adds even more because he can talk. The scene with the gold coins and his awakening scared me to death. There was just something about seeing his huge eye pop out that made my heart pump. The cinematography in these films is second to none. While i didn’t like the first Hobbit film, i can say that it was the most beautiful picture of the year. This one follows that trend, but it does it in a way to match the desolate mood of the Lake Town. This film’s views are seen more as dark and (hate to use this word again) desolate. The high frame rate is something pretty cool to read about with this film. The fact that they shot each frame at 48 frames per second is impressive, and it shows. I also really enjoyed the introduction of Bard the Bowman and felt Luke Evans was a perfect choice to play him. For those who don’t know, Luke has been cast in The Crow reboot, so i am curious to see what he can bring to Eric Draven. Some of the things i haven’t liked about other films are still there in this film, and i am sure i will get ambushed by fans of the series for it. Ultimately though, what kind of critic would i be if i didn’t put all of my cards on the table? These films are just way too long. I get that it is an epic story you are trying to tell with lots of characters, but maybe there in lies the problem; too many characters. I think the same story can be told without a couple of their back stories being learned. I also have never been a fan of Legolas. The guy is just too immortal for me to relate to. I mean seriously, could he get a cut or a scrape just once? Why do they even need an army if this guy can kill ten people in ten seconds? Just send Legolas to take care of any trouble in the town. I did enjoy the way the film ends as it sets up for There and Back Again quite well. I recommend this film to fans of the series for sure. As for non fans, it’s a hard prediction to make. I am not a fan and i loved it for the things i mentioned above. Give it a shot, it might surprise you.

Frozen

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8/10

The best animated film i have seen in a long time. Before seeing this film, i had no idea that it was a musical. It’s a good thing that it is, because this film has some of the best musical pieces from Disney in a long time. The thing that i love the most about this film is that it reminds me a lot of those Disney films from the 80’s and 90’s. It was a time when the music was possibly the most important aspect of a Disney film, and that is what this is. The film doesn’t have your typical love story or your typical villain. Hell, it even has a swerve. That aspect alone gives Frozen a very original touch. On top of it, there is some of the most beautiful visuals i have ever seen in an animated film. I definitely think this film should win the Oscar for best animated film. The cast is incredible. Outside of Kristen Bell, it’s not really anyone super famous and i like that. Just voice actors here, the way it should be. Idina Menzel has the voice of an angel with amazing songs that she had a part in writing. The comic character (Olaf) was pretty good too. I don’t feel he was desperately needed, but Disney loves their comedy. I definitely recommend everyone see this film. Kids will love the colorful characters, and adults will appreciate the creative songs.

The Hunger Games : Catching Fire

 

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8.5/10

My favorite book of the trilogy is adapted in this sequel that is every bit better than the first adaptation. First off, there are some things that are left out from the book in this film. If you go into every film not wanting anything to change, then you might as well stick to the books. This film got roughly 90% of the book correct. Some of the adaptations are surrounded by beautiful scenery and awesome acted dialogue that puts the first film to shame. The biggest thing i loved about this film as opposed to the first one is the fact that the characters are much better in this one. The characters are given time to shine in their roles. My favorite character in the books has always been Finnick, and Sam Claflin plays him perfectly. The character isn’t too overdone with his charismatic charms that he comes off as feminine, but he carries enough charm to make the character lovable. Jena Malone also turns in an incredible performance as Johanna. She really adds her own attitude to an already rebel character. Phillip Seymour Hoffman kicked so much ass as Plutarch that i could never see anyone else in the role. It’s as simple as that. Peeta and Gale don’t get too much time to shine in this film and i hope their roles will be more important in the 3rd/4th film since they are a huge part of the Mockingjay novel. The film’s 2 hour and 26 minute run time didn’t even feel like it as the time breezed by. With the final novel being adapted into two films, i am curious to see how well they keep with the pacing. Especially since the first of those films comes out in less than a year. I hope they aren’t rushed too quickly. Overall, this film is great and definitely deserves a theater viewing. If you liked the first film, you will love this one. If you hated the first film, you won’t find much charm in this one

Thor : The Dark World

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7.5/10

This anticipated sequel to the original masterpiece comes close in bringing the greatness again. I enjoyed this film a lot from different aspects that the first film didn’t bring. It is nice to see Loki and Thor team up to form one powerful union. I can only hope that something comes of this when The Avengers 2 comes out in a couple years. Make no mistakes about it, this is Tom Hiddleston’s film. As Loki, he provides us with the best lines in the script and the deepest character development of anyone in the film. I also enjoyed how this film wasn’t afraid to take more risks than the first one. There are a couple of death scenes in the movie that really open your eyes and let you know that Malekith and The Elf Army mean business. Malekith just falls short on the magnitude of Loki as a bad guy and that is understandable. Loki is after all the biggest rival in Thor’s comic book series. With that said, i enjoyed how Malekith spoke in a different language. It has always been weird to me how these civilizations talk in perfect english in these films, so it’s nice to see a villain who goes against the grain. The action scenes are there once again with some amazing damage being done to Asgard and London. This film clocks in at around 110 minutes, but it never drags. I think that is why i prefer the Thor series as opposed to Iron Man or The Hulk. It manages to keep itself fresh in two films that are around the 2 hour mark, and it still has lots of story to tell. I wasn’t too crazy about how this film set itself up for a 3rd one, but we shall see if Thor can break what i refer to as “The curse of 3”. Overall, i definitely recommend this film to everyone. I don’t think anyone will be turned away when it comes to the action that Marvel always brings to their films…………..Ok, Daredevil and Elektra don’t count

Ender’s Game

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6/10

I have a lot to say about this film, but i’m not sure where to begin. First of all, i am not reviewing the novel of Ender’s Game. I have never read the book and i will not even try to debate my knowledge on that subject. The film is an easily forgettable one. Is it a good film? Yes, but to anyone who hasn’t read the book or know a decent amount about the story, you will be lost at times. When i saw big names like Harrison Ford, Viola Davis and Ben Kingsley, i imagined that this film was going to turn in some incredible performances. But the trio of award winning actors are kind of left to waste with short dialogue that doesn’t give us any time to know their characters. Ford is the best by far in the fact that he is hiding more than we are led to believe throughout the film. For the first 90 minutes, i thought this film was all about practice and training, which would have put my review at around a 4 or 5. But this film redeems itself a little in the final ten minutes which pulls the wool from our eyes and turns around everything we were led to believe in the film up to this point. The action and set pieces in the film are beautiful. There is no debating that if you are to see this film, it must be at the theaters. I also enjoyed the work of Asa Butterfield as the story’s main character. His voice is a little pre-teen screaming when he gets excited, but i think he is great to play the role of a kid who knows he has a revolution that he is responsible for. In the end, Ender’s Game gives us a look at a possible sequel and i do think there will be enough fans to support that wish. To me, Ender’s Game is recommended, but it’s nothing incredible. The script seems rushed with so many of the events that are portrayed, but overall it’s not a bad little film. I would put this one somewhere in the middle of all the films i have reviewed this year.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

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7/10

The laughs are brought with a very cute movie for the whole family. I really enjoyed this film that is a sequel to what i thought was the best animated film of 2009. All of the best characters are back with Terry Crewes filling in for Mr T. I personally preferred Terry Crewes as i feel he is comic gold in anything that he does. Steve the Monkey has always been my favorite character in this franchise, but i thought Berry was a much welcome addition. There was something about this film that was more adorable than funny. Don’t get me wrong, the laughs are certainly there, but this film was just more of a feel good story for me. It doesn’t match the greatness of the original, but it is still a very good film. I have been real pleased the last couple of years with animated films. I think they are reaching an artistic peak with the technology available. I would welcome a 3rd film in this franchise as i feel they kept it very entertaining in the 2nd film. I personally preferred the egotistical mayor of the first film as opposed to Chester V, but that is a nit pick. Take the whole family to see this film. The kids will like it for all of the adorable and funny characters, but the adults will love it for all of the puns the kids don’t understand.

Planes

 

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6/10

This movie had a lot of similarities to Dreamworks Turbo. Both films take place in a race where the little athlete that couldn’t has to overcome the big bad villain to win the race. Along the way, both films have side characters that tell the lead that they can’t win. This all leads me to wonder how many more times they can pull off the same premise. Cars was kind of similar as well, but Cars is my favorite of the three films by far. Planes isn’t a bad little movie, but it isn’t very original. As i said before, this premise has been done so many times that it’s completely predictable by this point. With that said, i did enjoy this film that had some great voice over work by Brad Garrett, Stacy Keach and Sinbad. Dane Cook wasn’t terrible as Dusty Crophopper, but his storyline wasn’t very exciting to me. The film is already planning for a sequel in 2014 and i hope it brings a little more with it. The animated world has been very blessed the last couple of years with Despicable Me (1 and 2), Wreck it Ralph, 9, Paranorman and many others. So it’s easy for a film like Planes to fall into the forgettable category. Clocking in at 82 minutes, it is a very short film. I think they could have taken more time to develop the story and make it a little different. I recommend this film to kids because they will love it, but i would pass for adults. It’s not a film that warrants more than a Redbox rental.

The Lone Ranger

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7/10

I am wrong about a film every once in a while, and this was definitely one of those times. The Lone Ranger clocks in at 2 hours and 20 minutes long which will detract a lot of it’s viewers. I am not foolish enough to believe that everyone will feel the same way about this film that i did. With that said, it is a lot of fun and thrills with very colorful characters. The chemistry between Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp is incredible, and i can see why they were both chosen for this role. Johnny Depp can be a little stereotypical of the indian culture as Tonto, but does not overdo it. The cast also includes excellent turns from Barry Pepper, Helena Bonham Carter and the always amazing William Fichtner. This was also surprisingly dark for a Disney film. I was definitely surprised as they showed an eating of the heart by the villain of the movie. Things i would’ve done differently aside from cutting the film to 2 hours even, i would’ve included more about the backstory of Tonto. We do learn that he is responsible for a lot of the bad things in the film, but i found that story very intriguing and would’ve liked to learn more about it. Overall, i definitely recommend this film to everyone, but be prepared for a long one. I am also not guaranteeing you will like it. But hell, it made a believer out of me, and i am certainly not an easy one to please when it comes to cinema.

Turbo

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6/10

This was a decent film, but is very unbelievable even for an animated Dreamworks film. Turbo is about a snail who receives magic powers that make him go fast. With these powers, he enters the Indy 500 to race alongside him longtime hero. The way the snail receives the powers and the way he does 226 MPH without even damaging his texture is what amazes me. The ending is comedic for all of the wrong reasons when the Indy 500 becomes a foot race. Things i liked about this film was the amazing cast which included Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Samuel L Jackson and Michelle Rodriguez. I enjoyed the animation as Dreamworks is always on top of their game with great 3D and visual effects. In the end, i think this film is definitely geared for ages 9 and younger. Unlike Shrek, Despicable Me and Toy Story, i can’t imagine many teenagers or young adults getting an enjoyment from this. Overall, i recommend this film if you are bored and looking to get out of the house. I would honestly wait till the dollar theater shows it, but to each their own.

Grown Ups 2

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3/10

Ohhhh my Lord, where do i start? This film was absolute garbage in it’s purest form. I laughed a couple of times, but those were at the jokes that have the most obvious punchline. Adam Sandler plays the biggest douchebag i have ever met who continuously insults him children, is a non supporting husband and acts like he has unstoppable power in making the decisions for the family when he doesn’t even have a job. The humor is the goddamn pitts. One joke calls for Kevin James to burp, sneeze and fart at the same time. Now i know people are going to insult me and say that i shouldn’t watch a movie that i know is going to be trash. You guys have to realize that i do these things for you. I try to put out the warnings to help you before you spend money. I also know that there will be people who will now make it their mission to go see Grown Ups 2 and tell me how wrong i was because they like to argue. But i am going to cut straight to the point. If you like this film, you are a moron. You will find even the dumbest thing funny and there is no help for you. There was one thing i liked about the film; Salma Hayek’s breasts bouncing. THAT’S FUCKING IT!!!! I don’t think this was the worst film of the year, but it’s pretty damn close. I am one of those people who enjoyed some of the charm of the first film, but it’s absolutely gone in this shit bomb. Amazingly though, none of those things were my biggest problem with the film. They actually had CGI shots for this film that included a fake deer and a fake tire going down the road. But that’s not quite my problem, it’s the fact that it’s the worst CGI i have ever seen in my life. This looks fake for Birdemic standards. I totally don’t recommend this film to anyone, but i know people are going to love it because i trashed it so bad. In the words of a good Adam Sandler flick i leave you with this quote ” Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul”.

The Way Way Back

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9.5/10

Every year there will be a couple of films that get delayed a few months because i wasn’t able to catch the films while they were in theaters. Luckily, The Way Way Back announced that it was going back into theaters for a limited engagement. This was a film that i wanted to see since May, and it didn’t disappoint. This film was a lot better than i thought it was going to be. Nat Faxon and Jim Rash write and direct a tribute to all of our adolescent memories. The Way Way Back is about a family who takes a vacation to the father’s (Steve Carrell) beach house. First of all, the characters are the best i have seen in a film all year. Carrell plays an amazing douche bag who tries to rough up his step son by dragging him out of his shell. Liam James plays that kid we all once were who longs to belong to someone or something. That feeling of loneliness that drifts into all of us when we enter our teenage years. He also plays it very well. Toni Collette was great as his mother, Amanda Peet, Rob Coddry, and Maya Rudolph turn in decent performances as well. My only gripe is that Coddry doesn’t have much to do and is kind of wasted, but his character isn’t a main one so it didn’t bother me that much. The two people who really steal this film are Alison Janney and Sam Rockwell. Janney is brilliant as an alcoholic mother who is a humiliation to her kids and friends. She has some of the most awkwardly funny moment that can’t help but drag a smile out of you. Sam Rockwell plays my favorite character of the year, by far. His character works as kind of a father figure to James and he sees the child that he used to be with loneliness. He gets James a job at the Swim park he works at, and it turns into the best summer of James life. Rockwell’s dialogue is something that deserves to be seen by everyone. He has a sarcasm that reminded me a lot of Randall Mcmurphy (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). The script is amazing and really gets across the dramatic points that this story has to tell. It’s with those dramatic tones that this film is hard to judge if it is a comedy or drama. I personally saw it as more of a comedy. The drama shows that there are more problems with this family that meets the eye. Steve Carrell is not the best adult figure to these teens going through growing up. The only things i didn’t like about this film was slight nitpicking. I feel that the beginning 15 minutes start off slow and might make some people lose interest. Some people don’t have patience at the beginning of a film, but i am telling you to give it a chance. Those fifteen minutes just build the story before it plays out the problems in front of our eyes. I also didn’t like the last two minutes of the film. The film technically has two endings. The first one is amazing. It sends you going home with a smile. Then there is the 2nd one that leaves you with kind of a bad taste. I can’t give away too much because i really want people to see this film. It’s just not the way i would’ve ended it, but i think the directors were going for a realistic tone that happens in the everyday world. Overall, i definitely recommend this film. I don’t want to give away where i have it ranked currently, but it’s definitely one of the best films i have seen this year. Plus, i was alone in the theater and that always makes for a more enjoyable experience.

Despicable Me 2

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7.5/10

This film was really entertaining and almost comes as close as the laughs it had in the first film. Gru and his minions are back in this sequel to find Gru a wife. It’s obvious at about 20 minutes into the film that this is going to be Lucy (voiced by Kristen Wig). While i normally love Kristen Wig, i found her role to be the only thing about the movie i didn’t like. Her character is annoying at times and doesn’t have a lot to do. The Minions are better than they were in the first film with such bits as singing ‘I Swear’, and rowing boats with their funny sounds. I enjoy the Dispicable Me franchise, and it seems like a spinoff with the minions is right around the corner. One of the better things with franchises like this is that the whole family can see it. There are enough grown up jokes involved in this film that Mom and Dad can take the kids and not worry about being bored for 90 minutes. Side note – I am strongly debating being Gru for Halloween. I guess i will just have to see what i can do about it. Overall, a really good film that i recommend everyone sees in a theater. Really, there isn’t much better out in theaters right now. Probably Man of Steel is the only thing i would see above this.