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Cold in July (2014)
Half a movie
The acting in this movie is actually pretty good and there is some character development, but there are major plot lines that just get dropped midway through the movie. It starts off well enough, but at some point, all believable motivation is lost for our protagonist to actually continue in the story. In fact, the whole second half is another movie.
The opening plot is about dirty cops lying to Richard about who he killed to draw out Sam Shepard so that they can kill him 1920's style by tying him to train tracks. We never actually find out WHY they wanted to do that, nor do we ever hear from the dirty cops past the midway point. The writer just forgot to write about them.
The story then leads into Sam actually being a good guy, as he was just tricked by the police, then we find out his son Freddy got caught up with the Dixie mafia and now he's under protection or something, so now Sam wants to find his son, he does, then he sees something that makes him want to kill his son and Rich tags along just because. Nothing ever happens with the Dixie mafia by the way.
Richard, the protagonist is portrayed as a somewhat timid character - one whose hands were shaking when he loaded a gun, a character that was so nervous that his finger slipped on the trigger. Yet he's suddenly so curious to find out who he really killed. Enough to leave his family to go duck hunting with his new bros. He doesn't find out.
Movie is a mess.
Silly, predictable plot
It's not that it was poorly done or acted, in fact, the acting was quite strong; but everything was too predictable for me. The parallels drawn between the past and present was interesting, but ultimately pointless because you already know the path the past storyline takes as it's conclusion is already stated in the beginning of the movie. The differing viewpoints between the siblings was far more interesting, but never fully utilized.
The plot failed more than anything; for a supposedly bright girl to devise such a poor "plan" to defeat a mirror that manipulates people. As the mirror manipulates people, there was a HUGE lack of foresight in her plan to begin with. And the moment you see the incredibly stupid "insurance" setup she's done, you wonder why she doesn't just release it herself to begin with - which is when you realize it's a cheap plot device for one of them to die.
Could've Been Great
The problem with pulling off a good time travel series or movie is that they have to establish their own rules and then not break them, otherwise turning the plot into a bit of a contrived mess. Steins;Gate almost avoids this, but unfortunately, I felt it fell a bit short in that respect - I don't want to ruin anything so I won't discuss it further, but it was a decent effort. The voice acting is good, the story is alright, I don't have any complaints about the pacing, and the series was definitely funny when it wanted to be - perhaps its strongest point. It does the drama-comedy mixture well, not going to far in one direction at a time.
I loved the protagonist, he was a really likable character, and amazingly voiced. Most of them were, but I didn't enjoy Mayushi as much as the series wanted me too; just not my cup of tea. I'm not a fan of over-the-top cutesy characters just for the sake of being over-the-top cutesy characters. It just felt a bit lazy and forced here. I mean, maybe if they made her younger, as I don't think the age disparity between her and Okabe would really affect their sister-brother relationship. I mean, she was cute, but also came off as having some kind of medical condition at times.
It also bothered me that the other characters were as young, but at a completely different level of maturity, I'm not sure what making them all of high school-aged accomplished, they're never shown going to school. One of them, who is 17, even owns a cafe. Maybe it's a cultural thing, maybe in Japan people of that age are REALLY independent and do things like rent out a place as a pseudo lab, give lectures to doctors thrice their senior, wear their jacket halfway on, and open cafes. But for me, it was a lot of these small things that just pull me out of the story a bit.
With that said the story was intriguing and clever at times. It definitely kept me watching until the end, although I felt the series lasted two episodes too long, I was still okay with the final conclusion; it wasn't bad by any means, nor was the series. I'll say it was good, but it could've been great.
Shingeki no kyojin (2013)
A great anime so far (S1)
It's been a while since I've touched any anime after being let down and disappointed by so many before, in general a lot of them just seem like their strong points were never good writing and character development, but rather relying on pretty artwork, dumb, contrived, plot lines, and/or zany antics. Although I was skeptical about Attack on Titan, it looked like another gore-action fest with a weak story, but the writing and character development is surprisingly strong, it's easily among my top 3 after finishing this first season.
The action scenes are really, really, cool, along with the Spider-man like devices they use to maneuver around - but these serve the story, the story doesn't serve them. I also found the plot pretty interesting, but what makes the show stand out is how it connects with you on such a human level, dealing with emotions and choices that were very easy to empathize with; this makes you feel for the characters and the dilemmas they face. Their characters are portrayed at such a human, believable, level. This is perhaps what pulls me away from most animes, relying on having such eccentric, silly, characters everywhere.
However, Attack on Titan is not without faults, it does get a bit heavy- handed at times - with monologues sometimes being overly melodramatic or extended, with constant scenes of flashbacks, which at times I felt pulled me out of what was actually happening. Right now some series I'm following are Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. I would say the writing is easily better than The Walking Dead, though not quite GoT- level.
Not bad... but not good
I am all for suspension of belief, but it's a bit tough to get into the whole plot of The Hunger Games. The whole idea of the entire human race being okay with watching people and kids kill each other, come on - Yet everyone loves Katniss, our favorite polyandrist. Part of the problem is I couldn't ever find myself rooting for her, I don't know if it's Lawrence or the character; but I didn't find either likable, I found myself rooting more for Peeta and Finnick. Going into it, the majority of the movie feels pointless and when the games actually do start, it's something we've already seen, a reverse slasher - except you know who wins. To its credit, it does get better towards the end and I thought this one was better than the first. However, between Stanley Tucci in the ridiculous purple wig, the baboon attack, and Lenny Kravitz's glittery eyeliner, you would think the plot itself could not be the most cringeworthy thing about the movie.
Ender's Game (2013)
From child to starship trooper in a week
I haven't read the book, but you don't need to in order to see this kid's movie is a joke. I guess in this universe, the most logical thing to do is to train kids to fight a war because all the adults like to sit behind glass screens. And yet, they, for whatever reason, the fate of humanity relies on selecting a random white kid to be commander in a few days because he's a snarky douche/"the one"/"the third" that comes up with the brilliantly genius notion that an alien species might be able to communicate. Nothing in this movie is ever explained.
The acting sucks, the dialogue is pathetic, there is no emotional attachment to anything; the movie is surprisingly boring and stupid for how cool it looked. I'm not sure if this or Pacific Rim was worse. Maybe if I was 10, I'd think it were a good movie instead of pure garbage.
What a mess...
Felt like it should've been a 10 minute short, in the first few scenes you already know the uncle and protagonist are weirdos. Somehow this movie is able to stretch so much out of nothing; there is no suspense, the script is dull and uninteresting, the story is bland and predictable, the performances equally bland - Wasikowska and whoever played her uncle have one expression throughout the entire movie. It felt like I was watching paint dry, this movie was BORING and pointless.
It gets a 2 for its style and cinematography, but that doesn't overshadow the fact that the story sucked.
Evil Dead (2013)
Not Quite Evil Dead...
I'm disappointed to say the least. There were some throwbacks and similarities to Evil Dead, but the nonsensical, tacked on, ending after the credits was the best part. This movie had no business being named Evil Dead other than to cash in on the franchise.
It's a pretty bad movie, carried mostly by its name. The acting is bad, the plot is a contrived mess, and the characters aren't believable or likable. Being a huge horror fan, I would say some of the death scenes and gore were cool, if not mostly unnecessary. It got painful as it went, but the movie managed to keep me watching until the end, at times I felt like "endure" might be the better verb. The best way to watch it is to go in with no expectations. If you were a big fan of the original, you will probably despise this.
Not sure where to begin. One of my problems with the movie is that the actions and motivations of the protagonist were confounding at best, and felt entirely contrived. Is the the most logical thing to do when you realize you're in a loop to mirror the actions of your former self? By killing everyone, she knowingly propagates the loop, even though she is told by former incarnations that it ends it - she quickly sees that isn't the case as once the last of her friends dies, she witnesses a new group of "copies" appearing. What would have lead the original version of herself to believe that in the first place?
She continues to do mind-boggling things like kill herself because that definitely will end the loop. Then, she's seen driving somewhere, with body in trunk - we can only assume to dump it. So why take your autistic son with you? Ah, so we can set things up for the next scene in this poorly thought out story of course. Also, why is it the Jess we follow never experiences being partially shot in the head by a shotgun?
Why does she ask to go back to the harbor? We can only infer that she loses her memory every time before the harbor. Again, willingly restarting the chain of events. Why does the protagonist never actually try to simply get off the boat? Why does Sally never seem to even acknowledge the 50 copies of herself? Why does she willingly climb into the stack? What is the point of this movie? The only redeeming quality is perhaps seeing the loop sort of come together, however flawed.
The movie tries so hard to be clever, but ultimately I felt the plot, albeit cool; was rather weak, contrived, fulls of holes, and grasping. The ending, predictable and just not satisfying.
One of the stupidest films he's made
It's a revenge film, so it's predictable and you know the story before seeing it, but it makes Kill Bill look like a masterpiece. The guy who was supposed to kill our protagonist shoots him and kicks him off the road... but he doesn't shoot him fatally or, you know, in the head, or even check if he's dead - because that would've made sense. And why is JLO in it. Her side story is an amazing waste of time and her character makes no sense. In one scene she's some hungry real estate agent trying to get a big sale, in the next she's a detective 'cause can, then in the next she's an emotional mess after she gets herself kidnapped. Than she tries to save the protagonist by... snooping around a house where she knows a bunch of criminals are at... and proceeds to get herself kidnapped again, but it's okay because Statham conveniently taped a gun under the table for this exact situation... What. The. Hell. *SPOILER*! Statham channels the healing powers of Wolverine and kills everyone.