Jun 2, 2015

Hit or Miss: Quick Movie Reviews 9: Procrastinator Edition

Hello there, dear readers. I haven't written a legit blog post in almost two months, and the ratio of movies I've seen vs. movies I've reviews has gotten impressively large. The main reason behind that is that I was a producer on a television series for most of April and May, which meant most of my free time was spent thinking about one specific TV show rather than writing about a myriad TV shows and movies.  To rectify that, I present condensed reviews of many of the recent releases I've imbibed. Should you HIT the theater to watch them, or maybe MISS them entirely. The only way to know is to read on!!

Age of Adaline
Starring: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Ellen Burstyn, and Harrison Ford
Time goes by so slowly
for those who wait.
The Story: After a car crash and a freak electrocution, Adaline (Lively) is dismayed to find out that she can't age.  Afraid of what the government might do to her if they find out, she continually changes her identity and runs away from any kind of attachment. Her only confidant is her daughter (Ellen Burstyn), who Adaline must watch age while she stays the same.
Pros: It's an interesting story, and it's well-acted. Blake Lively convincingly portrays a 100+ year-old in a 20-something body.
Cons: The narration is clunky and unnecessary, and the film's attempts to scientifically explain Adaline's condition only makes her condition seem even more ludicrous. And, despite glimpses of her past, the story stays mostly in the present, which deprives the audience of seeing Adaline as she makes her way through life in the 1900s. Instead, we watch a tepid love story between two very attractive people, one of whom has a secret. Oooooo.
Consensus: This movie is totally worth a $1 rental in Redbox, and it's not a bad way to spend two hours if you can't find anything good on Netflix. Still, it's totally MISS-able in theaters.

Ex Machina
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander
The Story: The less you know, the better, but basically a guy (Gleeson) has to go to the home of his mysterious boss (Isaac) to help him determine the humanity of the Artificial Intelligence (Vikander) he created.
Consensus: HIT! The ending is a little rushed, but the movie is thought-provoking and tense. It's a great, smart thriller that's incredibly well-acted.

Pitch Perfect 2
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Skylar Astin, David Cross, some Green Bay Packers, a few Germans, and Elizabeth Banks.
The Story: After an unfortunate vagina-exposure, the Barden Bellas must prove their worth on the international stage in order to be reinstated on the collegiate circuit. Unfortunately, the Bellas have lost their way, and it'll take teamwork to get them back in sync.
Pros: There are some solid jokes, Anna Kendrick continues to be one of the most compelling actresses alive, Rebel Wilson's Fat Amy is Fat Amy-er than before, and the Green Bay Packers are pretty hilarious.
Cons: The Bellas supposedly have gotten too big and too flamboyant in their stage directions, but it's unclear what caused that turn of events. Part of that is because of the mishandled direction (from first-time director Elizabeth Banks) of the performance pieces. Everything is quick-cuts and loud noises. Almost none of the songs are fun to listen to. In addition, characterizations of all the leads are muddled, and newcomer Steinfeld is saddled with an inconsistent character who only exists as a story pivot point. Also, the film relies heavily on more "making fun of lesbians is hilarious" jokes that threatened to bog down the first film.
Consensus: MISS. I really liked the first Pitch Perfect, so it's upsetting to see such a bungled sequel. Apparently there's going to be a third one, so I still have hope that this series can course-correct. Also, for what it's worth, my mom really liked it.

Starring: Britt Robertson, George Clooney, and Hugh Laurie
The Story: A young girl gets a mysterious pin that takes her to a magical realm of possibility. Robots and crap soon follow. It's based on a Disney ride.
Consensus: If you don't have kids, MISS this thing. It's boring and not imaginative enough. We've moved beyond jet packs, movie makers! Come up with cooler future stuff, already.

Mad Max: Fury Road
Starring: Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, etc.
Furiosa is pretty cool, you guys.
The Story: Set in an even more dystopian future than the first three Mad Max films, the titular Max once again finds himself in a situation where he begrudgingly helps out a band of underdogs. (because it's the right thing to do, dammit!) But, this movie is really more about Imperator Furiosa (Theron), a driver for the megalomaniacal Immortan Joe who takes an opportunity to do something good and deprive Joe of the thing(s) he loves most. What starts (and ends) as a car chase becomes a fight for decency and redemption.
Pros: This movie is gorgeous from start to finish. I've never seen a desert so beautiful and haunting, a bleak and constant reminder of the dangers the heroes face. Practical special effects make everything more interesting, and there's a guitar-playing Doof Warrior who is never not fun to watch. It's easy to discount the acting, with the minimal dialogue making the characters more like action figures than real people. However, Theron, Hardy, and Hoult all turn in amazing performances, able to balance the camp and grit of the film without being overwhelmed by it. 
Cons: Honestly, there are very few cons. It's basically one-long chase/battle sequence, so it does occasionally feel repetitive.  An extensive sequence in a dust-storm is particularly unnecessary, but it is really pretty.
Consensus: This surprisingly-feminist action movie is glorious from start to finish. HIT like your life depended on it.

Hot Pursuit
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, Robert Kazinsky, and Jim Gaffigan
The Story: Witherspoon is a by-the-book police officer who has to escort a loudly-opinionated witness (Vergara) to a trial. Shenanigans ensue.
Consensus: I love Reese Witherspoon, but this movie is a festering turd baking in the hot, Texas sun. Vergara is unwatchable, and the movie, on the whole, is aggressively unfunny. MISS.

Furious 7
"One last ride."
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Elsa Pataky (Mrs. Chris Hemsworth), Tyrese Gibson, Luda, and the late Paul Walker.
The Story: It doesn't really matter, but basically Jason Statham is out for revenge for the death of his brother. So he hunts down Diesel and his "family" to make them pay for their crimes. A hacker is involved and our lovable gang of outlaws drive cars hundreds of feet in the air and through buildings. Plus, EXPLOSIONS and BOOBS!
Pros: There are some really beautiful locations, Jordana Brewster's cry-face is spectacular, and Paul Walker gets a fitting send-off from the series. Plus, there are car chases, explosions, and boobs, the heftiest of which belong to Diesel and The Rock.
Cons: The story is incomprehensible, Jason Statham survives for a really long time despite getting into car crashes that would probably kill one of the good guys, Iggy Izalea has a cameo, and overall the movie not as elegant as the unimpeachably great Fast 5. Plus, this really should have been the last movie in the franchise, but word is they're already working on an eighth. Boo.
Consensus: This movie's been in theaters for months. If you haven't HIT it already, you're never going to. But, in case you need more incentives: bewbs.

Jen Kirkman: I'm Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine)
Starring: Jen Kirkman
The Story: It's a stand-up special (on Netflix) all about Kirkman's thoughts on marriage and divorce.
Consensus: This movie is hilarious and available on your computer. HIT it up and laugh. You need a good laugh.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
[Okay, I was going to review this movie, but then I realized that my thoughts can't be contained to a "quick" review. So, I'm going to need to put this review in its own post.]

So, with a hot weekend on the way, why don't you treat yourself to some good, old-fashioned movie time. You'll be glad you did!
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