Strange Magic

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2/10

There is no film title in 2015 that will make more sense than that of “Strange Magic”. While the film tends to have trouble with the later part of that title, the movie is by far and away one of the strangest offerings i have ever seen from the Disney name. The film has it’s little charms, mostly in the animation aspect itself by George Lucas’s LucasFilm studio. However, this is the first truly terrible film of 2015, and i can see this one standing the test of time in that aspect. The movie, a chaotic fairy tale musical inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Two different neighboring worlds tell the story of Fairies, Goblins, and elves as they search for life’s greatest wish; love. I watched this film in complete amazement because i couldn’t believe this warranted a big screen release. Far and away, the movie’s biggest problem is in the form of it’s paper thin plot. It feels like someone wrote a twenty minute outline for a film about ugly creatures with a moral of “Looks aren’t everything”. The moral is great, the execution stretches the moral to ripping shreds. As i mentioned, the film is a musical, and it’s in that genre that this film commits the biggest sins for the reason i despise the genre. If a character says they are in love, you can expect to hear “I can’t Help Falling In Love” five seconds after hearing that declaration. If a character is evil and menacing, you will hear “Trouble”. It’s more examples of how animated films today mostly treat children like idiots, and how everything has to be spelled out for them. The movie seriously has no fewer than 30 performances. I know because i started counting them midway through the film. Musical numbers would be OK if it weren’t for two big problems that it had on the film. 1) The singing is terrible. Kristen Chenoweth stars in the film, and is usually one for on key performances. But there is something about her singing in “Strange Magic” that makes my ears bleed. Even the creatures in the film hilariously grabbed their ears in agony for the only true emotional bond i have with this movie. 2) The overbearing amount of musical numbers serve as a pause button for any character development or storyline progression going on. There were times where i forgot where we were with the characters because the movie couldn’t go five minutes without stopping for some moronic character to howl about their emotions. The musical numbers aren’t original pieces at all, and that’s not really a big problem, but it leaves no memorable note for the audience to carry long after they leave the theater. One of the biggest things that made “Frozen” such a box office success, was the beautifully lyrical original score. Think about it, what is the first thing people remember about that film? THE MUSIC. That is the problem with “Strange Magic” being a karaoke night of awful top 40 love songs. Thank God for Lucas’s animation touch because the film would fall even further if it wasn’t for the stunning design. The characters all have detailed structures to the creatures they convey. The landscape of the forests is a wonderous dream of beautiful backdrops. There were times where the film’s setting reminded me of a “Fern Gully” 2015 reboot. The cast of the movie is alright if they aren’t singing. Any film with “Strange” in the title has to star Alan Cumming, and he is good as The Goblin King. Evan Rachel Wood, Kristen Chenoweth, and Maya Rudolph round out a supporting cast that do good voice work, but nothing to ever take it to the next level. They are all easily recognizable with their signature voices. “Strange Magic” is a film that tells it’s audience that looks don’t matter, and it’s true. Looks don’t matter, but plot, musical quotas, and character development certainly do. The movie should’ve been focused more on these things, but it’s end result will make for a forgettable film in a 2015 that will have more than it’s share of creative and magical animated offerings.

Left Behind

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2/10

A pilot and father of two (Nicolas Cage) plans on a getaway rendezvous with an airplane stewardess he works with. He is a pilot on a flight to London when the rapture hits the world, and millions of people vanish without a trace. Left Behind is the newest in religious propoganda films that is by far the worst of this film genre that i have seen this year. Before i begin, this review might be offensive to some who shutter any time i mention religious films not turning out good, and if you don’t want an honest review, leave now. There are so many things wrong with this film that i worry i will forget about something. First of all, the positives. Nicolas Cage is far too good of an actor to do a film like this. He feels asleep during the film, and it seems like more of a paycheck collect for someone who had tax evasion problems with the government last year. He doesn’t even feel like the main character in this film as a majority of screen time is spent on his daughter, Chloe (Cassi Thomson) and Chad Michael Murray. Murray is the lone good thing about this film. He plays a news journalist who rides shotgun opposite of Cage in the plane when half of the passengers disappear. Murray tries his hardest with his role, and it feels like he is happy just to be cast. The problem with him however is that he doesn’t have anyone else to bounce off of to create good drama in a film that never can get off the ground. The acting isn’t terrible, but there are many lines that scream out that this film will lead the film world in Razzie nominations this year. The action sequences visually look like something out of Sharknado with terrible green screen animation. There are points during the rapture where the people running on the street don’t look real.I even laughed at a couple of parts because the same running scene played over and over. I could tell because it was a wide shot where the same man carrying a big screen TV grabbed a woman and ripped her out of her car so he could steal it. Another big problem with the film is that it brings out the worst not only in religious people, but atheists as well. The religious people in the film come off as psychotics who are pushing their beliefs on the non-believers, and the atheists come off as heartless jerks who can never just respect others beliefs. So who do you root for in the movie? What do you look forward to in a film that has no antagonist, so therefore no conflict? Sure, the film has the rapture (A terrible tacky one at that), but what happens after that? What is left for the remaining hour that makes you even care about this film? The remainder of the film is about landing the plane that has been hit by another plane and supposedly has no severe damage other than a clipped wing. I can’t say enough about how unbelievable the ending is except that i am not stupid enough to believe even for a second that it’s plausible. SPOILERS SPOILERS – Cage and Murray need a mile long stretch to land the plane, but they don’t have enough fuel to get to an airport. The last hour of the film shows the two men trying to get ahold of Chloe their cell phones are getting no signal. Then, when Chloe is about to commit suicide, the phones magically work out of nowhere. Gee, that was convenient. Happy to hear from her father, she clears a construction zone road full of cones, trucks, and oil barrels. Cage can’t see the road, so Chloe has to light a fire to create runway lights. This is stupid for two reasons. The first is obviously that a plane leaking fuel and flying into fire is probably not a good idea for the passengers on board. The second is the eight or nine oil barrels surrounding the construction area that Chloe has already set on fire. It’s thinking like this that makes me think director Vic Armstrong didn’t care how much sense it made because he knew the religious crowds would see any movie about preserving your faith. You people are much smarter than this. There have been tons of films like this in 2014, and they will keep coming if you can overlook huge plotholes and faults in a film that features Jesus tones. The biggest hole to me is the fact that the film mentions all of the children of the world disappearing. So i guess this means even the evil ones huh? Oh forget about them? You know, the ones who kill their parents or accidentally drown animals. I guess they are forgiven. So if they are forgiven, why not the adults? I’m not going to pretend for a second that i enjoyed any of the Kirk Cameron Left Behind films, but they were a hell of a lot better than this dark day in October. The only part believable in Left Behind is the praying. Not for the safety of the passengers, but for the actors who wanted out of this film or to be “Left Behind”. Not recommended in any form.

The Identical

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2.5/10

The story of twin brothers seperated at birth because the parents could only afford raising one child. Both children turn out to be amazing singers with one becoming the biggest rock star in the world. The Identical is easily the sloppiest film i have seen in 2014. That doesn’t mean it is the worst movie i have seen, but it is pretty damn close. What made this movie a guaranteed failure was the movements of actor Blake Rayne playing both of the brothers as Elvis rip offs. When i first saw the trailer to this film, i thought it was a biopic on Elvis Pressley, but then i heard that the brothers names were Ryan and Drexel, and immediatly i was confused. Why would you make a film with a singer who looks, acts, sounds, and moves like Elvis Pressley and then name him something else and change the story completely. The story isn’t good or compelling at all, but i would’ve had more respect for director Dustin Marcellino if he would’ve given his musical act an original feel. I can only imagine that they had trouble with the licensing rights from the Pressley family, but that is even defunct when the film mentions Elvis Pressley a couple of times. So we are led to believe that it’s ok to live in a world where not one singer looks and sings the same, but three different singers (Elvis included) do it? Ridiculous. I know the pop music haters will come back at me with every singer looks and sounds the same, but consider this movie to be like if Kesha looked like Britney Spears. That is the kind of logic that The Identical uses. The soundtrack is unforgiving with generic Elvis songs because this isn’t Elvis’s story. The songs feel like B-side Elvis songs that The King passed on to write the stuff he was legendary for. On top of it, there isn’t many of these original songs to go around so we get to hear them played over and over again. No one can listen to these songs and tell me that they weren’t going for an Elvis impersonator. Think whatever you want about my review writing, but i’m not acceptable to a movie that was this lazy. Why don’t we just make a rock star impersonator franchise and put Jimi Hendrix in Ghostbusters 3? The makeup and wig work is laughable for all the wrong reasons. Ryan’s hair grows and trims itself without any explanation what so ever. If he is wearing wigs, we certainly don’t see it from the awful editing work going on behind the camera. The funniest thing about the makeup to me came in the effect of Ryan’s parents played by Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd. Liotta is made to age right along with the decades that pass in the story. He inherits a head of greys and wrinkles on his face that give him the distinction that 30 years has passed. However, Ashley Judd apparently didn’t want to wear makeup or they ran out of the budget because she never ages more than a year during the whole film. There was one point towards the end of the film where i had to remember that she was married to Ray Liotta and wasn’t his daughter. Liotta is the only performance worth anything as a preacher who is wound a little too tight when it comes to the next generation of teenage interests. He plays the role with enough responsibility and love from a preacher who adopts a child that he wasn’t quite in agreeance to. Judd is Judd. Same hollow emotion behind her usual smile. Rayne is alright, but he is basically being Elvis even when he isn’t supposed to be. If this is an Elvis film, then yes he played the role perfectly. But since it’s not, his performance comes off as simple and uninspiring. The best note about the cast is the terrible miscasting of Seth Green as a groovy drummer and Ryan’s best friend. He is so laughable and so eye rolling in the character of Dino that i found myself exhaling as hard as i used to when my Dad would try to rock out to Grunge Music. It just doesn’t feel right, and with the exception of Will Smith as Satan (Winter’s Tale), this is the worst miscasting of 2014. The film ends after 102 minutes that feel longer because of the terrible pacing and rushed scenes when it’s trying to tug at the heart strings of any kind of emotion. The film’s end feels like we have watched our main character for nearly 2 hours and yet we still know nothing about what is going on inside. The Identical is sloppy, bland, and devoid of any intentions. It’s like they set out to make an Elvis movie and couldn’t get the rights halfway into the film, so they just changed the names around. It’s a good thing the King has left the building because Elvis would find new meaning to the words “Don’t Be Cruel” after slop like this. Not recommended at all.

A Haunted House 2

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2/10

In 2013, i posted a review about A Haunted House that trashed the film for basically being an 80 minute sex joke. I called it crude, humorless and completely pointless. I would now like to personally apologize for everything i said about that film. A Haunted House is still a tasteless chud, but it’s sequel is where the real evil exists. Marlon Wayans returns as Malcolm Johnson. A man who is being plagued by evil spirits through two different girlfriends. This film acts as a spoof on such horror movies as Sinister, Paranormal Activity, Insidious and The Conjuring. I only enjoyed three of those films, but i can safely say that all four are better than A Haunted House 2. As to where sex jokes were the film’s premise in the first film, racism appears to be the schtick with this movie. Racism is everywhere and everything, it’s apparently supposed to be hilarious and i had no idea. Gabriel Iglesias shows up as a neighbor who is Mexican. I mention his heritage because the movie certainly does every 2 minutes. I am not someone who is a big Iglesias fan. Every joke in his arsenal is about him being Mexican or him being fat. It’s that simple. So when you hear he is in this film, it should come as no surprise that the person and the character are one and the same. Lets not stop there though because there are more sex jokes as well. Remember that amazing scene from the first film where Marlon Wayans is having nasty sex with a stuffed animal? You get to relive that whole scene times two with the doll from The Conjuring. He has sex with this thing for no reason what so ever. Somewhere in planet bizarre this is funny. All you have to know about this film is that it’s the rudest, crudest movie to come out this year…….BY FAR. I am all about a good comedy that is a little juvenile, but this is completely beyond the limit. On top of this, there are cussing children, scenes that don’t connect well with the scene that is directly after it, and THE MOST ANNOYING CHARACTER that i have seen in a long time. For those of you who thought Leonardo Dicaprio said “Old Sport” too much in 2013’s The Great Gatsby, i laugh at your comment. Affion Crockett plays Malcolm’s cousin Ray-Ray, and he says the word “Cuz” no fewer than 90 times. I AM NOT KIDDING IN THE SLIGHTEST. I turned to my friend and said i would punch the screen if he said it one more time, and sure enough he did it in that exact second. The character is like nails on a chalkboard. Like Kenny Crumpton doing the weather for your funeral. Like Nickelback on repeat 24 hours a day. The camera always on thing doesn’t work as well for this movie because in scenes where it looks like a camera is on, there is no possible way a camera can be there. Cameras appear and disappear in character’s hands. I searched my mind to find even the slightest thing i liked about this film, and i could find nothing. The house they shot in looked nice. Does that count? The credits were error free in typing. How about that? A Haunted House 2 is on par with A Winter’s Tale for the absolute biggest disgrace i have seen this year. Time will tell by December 31st when we find out which one is worse, but for now i want to go to a very quiet place and rock back and forth. A Haunted House 2 is AWFUL. It doesn’t even deserve the 6% on Rotten Tomatoes. If you see it, you are only wasting your own money. The Film Freak warns all.

House Party 5 : Tonight’s the Night

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2/10

What a complete pile of crap. It’s sad to think of how great the first three movies were of the franchise and see what it’s become. Even the 4th film (Ferris Bueller rip-off) entertained me more than this. I am going to get out of the way the one thing i liked about this film and that is Kid N Play returning to cameo in the roles that made them famous. My problem with it however is that they are in the last 2 minutes of the movie. They make us wait 88 damn minutes for a 2 minute cameo that isn’t that good. This film made me miss Grown Ups 2 with it’s horrible dialogue and acting. It looks like they pulled a bunch of kids off of a high school acting class and let them do their thing. If that doesn’t do it for you then maybe insulting fat people by making them break the floor during a sex scene. Yeah, that’s sure to get a laugh out of everyone, because fat people should only be used for trashing. There is also pedophilia with a 50 something neighbor coming to the party to hit on the 17 year old main character. She is about as trashy as your worst nightmare while lifting her skirt and mentioning how wet the main character has made her. This film is so bad and it knows it that it references other films and TV shows (Twilight, True Blood). One thing i always find funny about these films are the fact that everyone can dance. Now, i’m not talking about a dance movie like You Got Served or Step Up, because those people are supposed to be trained dancers. This is a high school movie with kids who can dance better than an Usher video. Another funny part is when the token bad guy shows up and punches out the main character, and actually walks out to boo’s. WHO DOES THAT? If this isn’t enough, they even insult and poke fun at the first House Party by naming the main character Chris and then insulting the Kid N Play dance move by calling it whack. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. The ending is left with the biggest form of unbelievable as Chris’s best friend fixes the mess by selling his car. That’s fine and dandy, but how did he fix the huge hole in the floor in less than 8 hours? Better yet, how did he sell his car between the hours of 3 AM and 9 AM? I don’t recommend this film to anyone, and you can definitely look for it on the bottom five of my end of the year countdown.

Scary Movie 5

 

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2.5/10

This movie is close to being the worse film of the year for me. If not for the catastrophe that was Movie 43, this film would definitely make history as not only the worst film of the year, but of the last five years easily. With the exception of one scene, i didn’t laugh one time in this entire film. It’s a shame because the first two Scary Movie’s were actually really good and filled with laughs. This franchise has been on a down slope since getting rid of the Wayans Brothers. This film makes the movie A Haunted House look like Casablanca. Most of the movies represented in this film aren’t horror movies at all and they don’t put any effort in hiding that fact. The oddest thing to me was the fact that almost NONE of the scenes that were shown in the trailers were in the movie. I guess they all went on the chopping block because they are nowhere to be found. This movie clocks in at 75 measly minutes that feel like a lifetime. There were many points when i almost gave up. I don’t recommend this film for anyone; not even the biggest mindless idiots walking the planet. Nobody will or SHOULD like this movie