Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Horrible Bosses (2011)




While having the benefit of never being predictable, its lack of depth hurts itself. It's one of those movies that will make you laugh a lot, but you never ever feel for the characters past the fact that they have terrible bosses. But fortunately for the film it's at its best when its chaotic. The first 20 minutes are the slowest part, but picks up a very steady pace after that. At that point, you don't really care about depth, you just want to laugh. 

The talent is great and the farce is fun. If you don't overanalyze this movie, you'll have a good time watching it. And it just gets better with continuous viewings. 

Twizard Rating: 84


Quick Movie Review: Dumb and Dumber To (2014)



Much of the surprising depth that graced 1994's Dumb and Dumber is missing here. Of course we didn't have that naive '90s charm, but the humor seems randomly scattered rather than strategically placed. Although the original may have just been a vessel for giving us a ton of humorous situations, it never felt like a sketch comedy show or a rapid fire of gags. 

The chemistry between the two leads is still there, but the identity of the writers doesn't seem to be. They play more to the concepts, rather than the characters on the screen. Many of the jokes aren't a reflection of the characters' dumbness, just humorous concepts. To me, the film is funny as a stand-alone comedy, but as a sequel to one of my favorite comedies, it doesn't exactly do the trick. The style and tone differ greatly from the first installment. It's just not quite as smart. The lines aren't as quotable and the gags rely too much on gross-out laughs. It feels more like a project to make the writers laugh at their own jokes. 

In the original film, the entire foundation of the movie is based on stupidity--the fact that the Harry and Lloyd don't know how the world works. Here the situations aren't naive-stupid, just adolescent-stupid.

Although, we have to realize that as beloved as the original movie is, it's not without imperfections. But the jokes don't make the story seem obsolete like this one does.

The bits don't fall flat every time, but they feel a little more Seth MacFarlane-esque than desired. But it also has to do with the fact that we simply are no longer a society that welcomes slap-stick comedy with open arms--let alone 110 minutes of it.

I'm not one of the many people who hated the Dumb and Dumber prequel, and I think that I may have liked it a little more than this one simply because it attempted, although not perfectly succeeding, to mimic to style of the first film.

Humor has transformed a lot over the years. Not just humor, but what we expect from humor. It's more improv-based now, and honestly Dumb and Dumber was ahead of its time in that sense. But instead of relying on the natural talents of their two leads, the writers decided to contrive every idea on the screen to the point where you feel like the actors don't just get to do their thing. 

In aiming to be more adult than the original, ironically the humor ends up being more juvenile. Dumb and Dumber paved the way for many films after it, but we have to realize that movies such as American Pie and Superbad have come out since then, and their influence may have guided the hands of these writers in exchange.

It's missing a little bit of the charm from the 1994 classic, and for fans of the original you may be disappointed, but I would recommend you watch this movie out of loyalty to the first. It's not THAT bad.

Twizard Rating: 68

Quick Movie Review: Dumb and Dumber (1994)







It's really hard to be objective about movie that I grew up watching and loving. But while Dumb and Dumber may have its faults, it's really a great movie and speaks a lot about where we were humor-wise in 1994. Jim Carrey was just starting to blow up and buddy films were at the forefront of the comedy world. 

The charm of Dumb and Dumber is purely organic and comprises of a perfect sum of its parts. I was watching the "uncut" version of this film once and have to admit that I didn't like any of the added/extended scenes. It leads me to realize that this is one of those movies that you can't add to or take away from. If you touch it at all, it deteriorates its quality. 

Although I can watch this movie as is, I can admit that it has its slow parts. The end of the 2nd act it can get sluggish, and the plot finally catches up with itself in the 3rd act as it ties everything together. The runtime can be slimmed down a bit, while the plot stretches quite thin in order to make room for more jokes.

But the charisma of this movie doesn't necessarily come from the script. It comes from Carrey and Daniels themselves. Their respective individuality--yet similarity--strikes a chord with fans of this film.

Having watched this movie dozens of times I can say that it may not be perfect, but I can't imagine it any other way--nor would I want to.

Twizard Rating: 89



Monday, November 24, 2014

Quick Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1




We were fooled. Don't act like you didn't see it coming. Quit being oblivious and biased. This movie is really bad. It's boring. I should have known from the opening title where it says "Mockingjay Part 1". There is no hunger games. The games are over. The action is over. I just was hoping for a good story at least. I was hoping for ANY story. 

This is the most shameless attempt to make double the money on their franchise finale. Studios wonder why so many people pirate movies, but it's because they mess with us like this. It's atrocious of them. The events could have been "accomplished" in less than an hour--and I'm being generous. But no, it was 2 hours and 3 minutes. And you know they had to make it at least 2 hours, because if it was any shorter it would have been too blatant that they were making it into two separate movies just to make more money. But instead they decided on making us wait until the movie was over to confirm that fact. 

I wrote in my notes, "slow moving first act." I soon realized that the entire movie would be like this. But I was hoping for at least a nice twist at the end maybe, but that didn't happen either. Nothing happened in the whole movie. We just sit around watching the characters move about the screen while we occasionally check our watches. There's little-to-no suspense, there's no action, and there's barely even any humor. The political commentary about democracy isn't even consequential anymore because we obviously agree in favor of it. There isn't any internal conflict for the audience to mull over. 

At least if you found The Hobbit boring, you loved being enveloped in their magical world with picturesque landscapes and interesting creatures. With the Hunger Games' world, you have a dystopian future containing nothing of desire, and by the end of this movie you're gonna want out.

And I can't blame the director. He was just dealt the hand that the studio gave him. They need the extra billion dollars. 

You'll hear good things from fangirls, but don't be suckered in to this one. Rent it. 

Twizard Rating: 53

Friday, November 21, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Heathers (1988)



At first glance, this surreal dark comedy may be too weird. However, you have to understand what it's trying to do. It's not for everyone, but Heathers is an engaging and honest commentary on how society eats up tragedy, which creates a chain reaction that sends others searching for that same attention. It shows that suicide may not always be an escape from life, but a longing for love and appreciation. While criticizing our culture, it also sympathizes with adolescents who are constantly lost and confused. It poses the food for thought that we vicariously kill each other. 

The script isn't perfect, but the narrative is close to it. I love films where you never know where they're going. And this one is far from predictable. The character study on Veronica (Winona Rider) is fun to watch within itself. She goes from thinking she gets it to actually getting it--and it's convincing the whole way through. 

My greatest wish of this film is that the chemistry between Slater and Rider had been better. Much of the time it's unbelievable and it hinders the effectiveness of their eventual fallout. 

Like I said, this movie isn't for everyone. It's very weird and if you're looking for a typical black comedy, this isn't it. This aims a bit higher than just pure entertainment. It's surreality can push it into seemingly inhuman territory, but Heathers is far from it.

Twizard Rating: 85

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Showgirls (1995)



Nomi is watching Cristal from the audience for the first time. She mimics some of Cristal's hand motions perfectly. She gets it! I'm excited! …Those are the types of transparent notions that this film is hoping to pass along to its audience. The aspects of Showgirls that are most laughable aren't the things on the screen, but the blatant expectations of the filmmakers that what they present will evoke certain emotions from us. This is why there is no shortage of drama in Showgirls. It's induced at every possible moment, constantly trying to make us react--like a soap opera…or a Tyler Perry film. 

But exploited drama isn't the only cancer in this movie. Besides the distractingly jarring and clanking dialogue, the most annoying aspect is Nomi herself. She's so fragile and bipolar, like the crazy girl your friend dated while you questioned why he stayed with her for a year. Her emotions are so up and down that it becomes annoying and almost insulting to her gender. The character is written as though she is supposed to have a chip on her shoulder, but then she has the confidence of an olympic athlete. She is our main protagonist, yet she's so unlikeable that you're not even rooting for her. In fact, you don't know who you're really rooting for at all--I guess the ending?? None of the characters' motives make any sense and are ridiculously inconsistent. Nobody is set in stone. Even Molly, the only one who doesn't really do anything wrong, sees her best friend and trailer-mate (who apparently she doesn't  know very well) obviously going down a bad path and barely makes any effort to give her support of any kind.

Regardless of everything I've said so far, it's a pretty entertaining bad movie. There's actually a good overarching story here, and if you stick it through, you'll actually appreciate the ending. It might even inspire or teach a lesson now and again. I heard someone say that Showgirls is like the Cocktail of dancing movies. Although I don't like it as much as I like Cocktail, I don't hate this movie. There's something about it that keeps you watching. They wisely (and annoyingly) make you wait until the end to find out about Nomi's past. It all ties in nicely by the time the credits roll.

Twizard Rating: 62

Quick Movie Review: Interstellar (2014)



This may perhaps be the best sci-fi film I have ever seen. The cast is great, the narrative is perfect, and the technicals are breathtaking. It also serves as a post-apocalyptic movie, and may just be the best pick from that genre as well. It makes all of the scenarios seem so realistic, thusly making its point hit closer to home.

Sure, Interstellar has its share of imperfections. There was little backstory on how earth got to be so dystopian, along with not establishing what year it actually is. And of course, the plot holes in the film are countless. But with a film of this magnitude, a few plot holes that take deep-analytics to uncover are expected and accepted. However, the only thing that I nitpicked about was the lack of attention and concern about Cooper seeing his son upon his final return. He immediately asks about his daughter, but never once asks about his son, or if he's even alive. This bothered me a little, but was only a minute detail at the end.

But among all of these issues, the biggest problem is that the concepts in the film may be a little too deep for about 90% of its audience. The script is incredibly wise and smart, and the lengthy runtime is necessary, but in the last 30 minutes the audience has to really be on their toes because it gets very abstract and heavy with information.

You can complain all you want about the given scenarios, but within the universe of the film, things were pretty tight. With really good movies, it's hard to write a review without sounding like the distribution company paid you, but this really is a fun film to watch. It has all the elements of a perfect sci-fi, and much like Children of Men, it places it in the reality of our own backyard to get us to look at the film as an actuality, rather than just a metaphor. 

We want movies that answer "what if?" and when we see that question resolved in a way that's gadget-free and with relatively the same technology that we have right now, it feels like we get the actual answer. You're not getting tricked or cheated with phony set pieces and overly futuristic devices. There's something so satisfying to watch this movie and feel like it could potentially be "based on a true story" with a little stretch of the imagination.

Twizard Rating: 100

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Big Hero 6 (2014)



big hero 6
When writing a script you're not supposed to be too vague, but you're also not supposed to be too obvious by not letting the audience figure things out for themselves--especially the obvious things. But this film loves to reiterate the apparent. The dialogue is painfully bad, and even corny a lot of the time, and unfortunately these mistakes aren't obvious enough for most critics who have been blinded by a Disney film to see that this script is below par. Usually Disney does a really good job of not dumbing down its dialogue for kids--or to kids--but it definitely fails at that here. That's not to say that many of the scenarios and much of the humor haven't been written to appeal to both young and old. In fact, this movie did a good job of making the adults laugh too.

Also speaking of the negative, this film has a hard time with character consistency. These consistencies are vital for invoking emotion when needed and for giving our heart a tug when something sad or moving happens. The archetypes feel forced and the script veers away from certain characters' tendencies for the convenience of a given situation. This, along with a couple of nitpicked plot holes, should be a writer's nightmare. For instance, it takes Hero (a genius) 30 minutes of screen time to suspect that Alistair Krei was the one that stole his technology--the most obvious initial candidate to be the masked villain--when it takes the audience 30 seconds to start suspecting it. I understand that they stall Hero's suspicion in order to prevent the audience from ruling it out right away as a decoy, but it doesn't help my issues with the script. Although Disney has outdone themselves in the art and effects departments, it seems like they cut corners in revising the screenplay.

I will say that Baymax is the absolute highlight of this film. Without him this film would have suffered a lot, and it's easy to say that because the premise wasn't revolving around him necessarily. (Meaning, they could have hypothetically made a film called Big Hero 5 that would have made it into the can). This movie's entertainment value increases rapidly once we establish Baymax as a permanent figure in this film.

The story is nicely paced and moves in the right direction for pretty much the whole film, I just think that it could have underwent some more rigorous rewordings in the writing department.

Twizard Rating: 79

Friday, November 7, 2014

Quick Movie Review: John Wick (2014)



Going into this film I thought it was going to be something original. However, nothing I saw really made me say "wow". I know critics and audiences love it, but I can't see why. I can see if they liked it, but LOVE? It's nothing we haven't seen before--especially if you've seen Taken, or recently The Equalizer. And after seeing those other 2 movies, this one feels really boring and lifeless. Much of the time we are left just watching Mr. Wick (Keanu Reeves) fly about the screen taking out villain after villain in a very ordinary (albeit well-choreographed) fashion. Our minds wander and we are getting anxious for the plot to thicken even though it never does. And although we actually do care about the title character, he goes to extremes that make you question if his motives justify his bloodthirsty tirade. While there's no aspect of the film that makes me hate it, it proves to be quite mediocre and nothing more.

With this coming out so soon after The Equalizer, one can't help but make comparisons. The script wasn't as good in John Wick, but it's also a tighter and less porous story. In this film we stop remembering why we care half way through it. It's an interesting premise to begin with, but then it falls into convention.

If I can say anything good about John Wick, I will say that its style is pleasing. It's campy and surrealistic--almost like a comic book or a graphic novel. Similarly to Taken, it's not weighed down by an overly complicated premise. It doesn't quite feel like John Wick got the redemption that he was seeking in the end of the movie when he finally catches and kills Iosef, leaving us feeling like this may all have been a waste of time. But then you question whether or not all of this killing that he goes through for his car and his dog is really worth all of this trouble in the first place. Did he even get his car back? 

I'm glad to see Reeves can still hold his own in a blockbuster film, but I just wished that I had liked it a little more. Despite my own criticisms, it isn't a bad movie--it just isn't a great one.

Twizard Rating: 65

Quick Movie Review: St. Vincent (2014)



St. Vincent is a very enjoyable movie. It has its faults, but it's easy to like. It has a likable cast all around, and only seems flawed when you overanalyze it.

There is some wavering in the depth of Vincent, with his innate traits shifting ever so slightly throughout the movie. Not developing, but wavering. Where the director wants him to be a unpleasant, he's unpleasant. Where the director wants him to be desperate and lost, he's desperate and lost, but when he wants Vincent to be confident and responsible, he's confident and responsible. Maybe it says something about the depth of the character, but I personally think that it's a small flaw in the script. It's not enough to dock it a lot of points, but it offsets the overall tone of the film slightly.

But in the end you realize that this movie says more about the Oliver's empathy and ability to see beauty in the beast. He sees this and wants to share to everyone who Vincent is so that they see him like Oliver sees him. It's touching and sentimental, but a little manipulative on the director's part. But I suppose that any sort of complaining regarding this would be too nitpicky--even for me. All this stuff doesn't make the movie less-than-good, it just makes it not perfect.

The finale is when this film really draws you in and you have no choice to surrender your emotions towards this man who is being honored. Although he hasn't changed, you've changed and you learn to ultimately love him.

Overall, it satisfies our needs and succeeds at its goal of making us give those who are ugly on the outside the benefit of the doubt. It's a good movie.

Twizard Rating: 88

Quick Movie Review: Dracula Untold (2014)



Going into this movie, I was excited. Excited because I love origin stories. I mean, I figured that it wasn't going to be amazing, but at least I would be entertained with a unique background to a well-known character. And I was loving it. It wasn't perfect, but it was turning into a pleasant surprise much like 2010's Predators did. It has a nice theme, a likable title character, and an interesting premise. It also wisely made the audience wonder for the entire film if Dracula was going to fail his challenge or prevail.

And then something happens. It's the moment you see his wife falling to her death. Honestly I actually thought that he was going to make her drink his blood so that she would continue to live--a decision I would have been okay with. But instead he kills her to regain his own strength, which is now permanent, instead of saving her by just giving her the same "three day challenge" that he underwent--which, by the way, was forgotten about once the 3rd act hit.

It decides to throws its theme out the window in the last 15 minutes and Dracula seems to have no motives whatsoever, which deprives this film of being powerful at all, becoming a directionless contradiction. I haven't watched a movie in a long time that is so unsure of its own theme. It's like the last 1/4 of the movie had a different writer. And to top it off, there are a couple of easily avoidable plot holes. For instance, why is it necessary for Dracula to turn all those people into vampires? He is powerful enough to defeat the army alone. Also, the idea is that when the subject drinks his blood, he or she has three days to resist human blood, or else the vampire whose blood he or she drank ceases to be a vampire anymore. That doesn't happen. At all. I think the writers forgot to edit the last 15 pages of the script. 

Dracula ends up losing his son anyway, which was the exact fear that catalyzed him seeking those powers to begin with.

I gave this film as high of a rating as I did because I actually was really liking it up until the 3rd act. But ultimately, it proved to be directionless.

Twizard Rating: 70