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Stranger Things (2016)
The best Netflix show to date
I've seen all the episodes of Daredevil, House of Cards, Master of None, Narcos, and several other of Netflix's brilliant shows. This is definitely the best one to date. It's scary from time to time, but it's still scarier than 99% of horror movies that come out in theaters these days. All of the actors--including the young kid actors and the adult actors--are brilliant and give outstanding performances. Literally each one of them could be nominated for an Emmy. The fact that they're all unknown actors (save for Winona Ryder) adds to the mysteriousness of the show, and their chemistry and dialogue is spot-on. There's nothing predictable about Stranger Things--each episode had something happen that I never would've predicted. Most shows have moments where you can pretty much guess what's going to happen at certain parts, but NEVER in this show. Once I started the first episode, I ended up binge- watching the rest of the season in one weekend, which is the shortest period of time it ever took me to watch a single show. Really looking forward to season 2!
Boreman vs. Snoozerman: Yawn of Justice
Remember the sloth character from Zootopia named Flash? He is a perfect way to describe how slow, boring and uneventful this movie is: it has a name that makes you expect something fast or awesome, but in reality it's just incoherent, time-consuming and makes you want to bang your head against a wall. Batman v Superman is one of the weakest superhero movies I've seen in years, and is basically one long trailer for what is yet to come in the DC cinematic universe.
I'll start with what I liked. Ben Affleck truly killed it as Bruce Wayne and as Batman. He just didn't have enough scenes, which were arguably some of the only good scenes in the movie. His origin story is told rather briefly but with the respect it deserves. The movie covers young Bruce Wayne's childhood tragedy rather early and it executes the dark scene with emotional resonance. The character's tie-in to the destruction in Man of Steel makes perfect sense and sets up Bruce Wayne's character in the storyline on the right foot.
And then there's the rest of this movie. After the first 10-15 minutes or so, the movie is just a completely jumbled mess. The scenes are shown in a seemingly random order with not one scene following or preceding another in any logical or coherent way. You could've shown those scenes in any random order and it still would've made equally as much sense. It was very frustrating and made it nearly impossible to stay engaged in the story. So much so that the first 90 minutes were a complete snooze--it was so boring and uneventful that nearly put my friend and me to sleep.
In Batman v Superman, Bruce Wayne is furious at Superman for the destruction caused by his fight with General Zod in Metropolis because of the many people who died, many of whom were his employees. All the while, he is fighting crime as a masked vigilante, which happens to draw the ire of Clark Kent, a journalist at the Daily Planet. Kent and Wayne meet each other at an event hosted by Lex Luthor, the spoiled CEO of LexCorp who has his own plans on how to deal with the Man of Steel.
The movie does not know how, or seemingly isn't interested, to introduce or develop any of the characters in a way to make the audience care about them besides Bruce Wayne. Jesse Eisenberg Lex Luthor is the most annoying villain to grace a movie in many years. His quips, twitches and dialogue are such desperate attempts at humor that they only invoke cringes instead of laughs. I don't think the audience I was in laughed a single time at his dialogue, and it was a completely sold-out show. I'm not against a humorous take on the character, of whom I'm a fan. But there was nothing remotely intimidating or villainous about Jesse Eisenberg as Lex. He was basically an annoying, less intelligent version of Mark Zuckerberg from The Social Network. All the doubts that people had about Eisenberg's casting were, unfortunately, true. Worst of all, I'm pretty sure he had more screen time than Superman, who is hardly in the movie.
Bad characterization doesn't even stop at Lex Luthor. Wonder Woman is shoehorned completely. She is given no development and is in scenes that literally make no sense for her to be in. Clearly she was forced into the movie to introduce Wonder Woman, with not one explanation given for why she is there. It's a shame because Gal Gadot is a great Diana Prince. Lois Lane is even more useless than she was in Man of Steel. She served no purpose other than to get kidnapped, fall out of the sky, get rescued by Superman, and worst of all, have subplots that serve as a distraction from the few action scenes in this movie.
I would talk about the action in this movie but there is just so little! I'd say this movie is about 15-20 minutes of action in a 150 minute movie, and nearly all of the action is saved until THE VERY LAST 20 MINUTES OF THE MOVIE. That's right, you have to sit through 130 minutes of incoherently jumbled scenes, boring dialogue, slow exposition, and an abundance of annoying Lex Luthor scenes to get to a tiny sliver of action. The titular fight between Batman and Superman basically reminded me of two old guys wrestling until they got tired. It was so brief, so slow and so unimpressive that it made me miss the overlong fight in MoS between Superman and Zod, which was 10 times better than this fight. The thing about that fight is that it made no sense. There was NO reason given for why Batman even struck Superman, since he gave the first strike in the fight. Superman approaches Batman peacefully and says he wants to talk things out, but for some reason Batman just starts beating him senseless like a bully. In fact, there was only a reason given for why Superman would want to hit Batman first, but the opposite happened instead. It was so forced that the movie even forgot to give a reason for it.
In the end, Batman v Superman accomplished what many people doubted it could: it made Ben Affleck into a believable Batman. But it got almost nothing else right. This movie is certainly up there with Fant4stic, 2003's Hulk and Daredevil as one of the most boring superhero films ever made. If you're looking for a mindless action movie, don't even watch this movie. If you're looking for a good movie with Batman, stay miles away from this movie. It will do nothing but disappoint. I got a free ticket to see this movie but I still feel like I want a refund. I think that says enough about how good this movie is.
Fantastic Four (2015)
I finally came around to seeing this, since I was able to find a decent camera quality online, and I have to say...wow this was boring as hell. Seriously. I got so bored that about midway I paused it and tried taking a nap, because I thought I was tired. But no, I was actually bored! Holy *beep* this was one of the most boring superhero movies I've ever seen--like Hulk-level boring.
The main characters...had NO development at all! Sue Storm, what the hell?? To me she was just a character who shows up and says her lines, that was it. I don't remember a single moment where she shows any emotion, or any development whatsoever. I seriously can't think of a single way to describe her, other than she was an attractive blonde girl who can turn invisible and make force fields. Ben Grimm also had just as much development--basically none, except for I guess he's dependent on Reed Richards?
Johnny Storm had very little development too; he was a bit of a troublemaker in the beginning and that was just about it. Reed Richards was slightly awkward and nerdy in the beginning but after that--you guessed it--nothing. This movie completely destroyed these characters and gave them no personality, at all. I guess Doom was kinda developed but he had no motive at all for being a villain, and man did he look awful. Not to mention the actors showed no emotion in their performances. They were just so flat and sounded bored, it was almost depressing to listen to them talk.
I only remember this movie having one action scene. That's right, one. For a superhero movie, that's abysmal. It should have at least 2 or 3 good action scenes but instead, it has one very short, terrible one at the end. I guess I can't really comment on the CGI since I saw a camera quality of it but the excessively cartoonish last fight looked ridiculous. I just couldn't buy any of it.
Did I mention how boring this movie is???
Basically, this movie was dreadful. It did have one good scene, when they go to the other dimension, since there was some element of tension and intensity there, but other than that, NOTHING remotely interesting happens in this. I'm so glad I didn't pay to watch this (and before any of you guys say it, it's actually legal to stream movies online, even if for free). For those of you who haven't seen it, it's just as bad as you know it is. Bland, boring, ZERO character development, and ONE short action scene where you can hardly tell what's going on. I'm beating a dead horse by saying this, but don't even bother to see this movie. Watch the original Fantastic Four with Jessica Alba, it's actually a masterpiece compared to this.
Gone Girl (2014)
Everyone involved did a great job
That includes Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry and the unknown actors in the rest of the cast. Affleck and Perry really surprised me and Pike could get some serious Oscar recognition for this. She played the Amy I pictured from the book so well it was scary...she made such an unrealistic character feel so REAL. I'll be surprised if she isn't nominated and if Ben doesn't get some recognition too. I still can't believe how much I liked Tyler Perry in it, he was fantastic.
This was pretty expected but David Fincher really did the book justice. He gave it the same respect he showed Dragon Tattoo, although this was a bit more faithful to the source material, and he emitted the perfect tone of darkness that was needed. He really knows how to take a twisted, disturbing novel about the demented side of human nature and make it feel real. Given the right cast (with Rooney Mara in Dragon Tattoo and with Rosamund Pike in this) he just knows how to make it scary and skin-crawlingly real. I know it made my skin crawl.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Up there with Avengers and Winter Soldier
If you're like me you were surprised by the great reviews for this movie...for about a second. Sure it was an unfamiliar Marvel property but then again, it's Marvel Studios. They haven't had a critical flop since their start in 2008. I knew I would enjoy this before seeing the movie. It felt like it was directed by Joss Whedon.
First of all, there's nothing to worry about as far as action and special effects go, so let me get that out of the way. The CGI is fantastic. I didn't expect much going in, but given that 90% of the characters in this are either motion captured or CGI completely (i.e. Rocket Raccoon) there should've been obvious blemishes or shortcuts taken with the visuals. I didn't spot one. Groot looks completely lifelike and none of the CGI work obscures his facial expressions.
Yes, it is sad in the beginning and towards the end. This is a comedy, sure, but there are plenty of laughs as well. I was in a full theater and the audience was laughing hysterically, even at some of the corny humor. I expected the Rocket Raccoon to be annoying as hell but even he cracked me up with his cruel, dark humor. He was such a guilty pleasure, the farthest thing from a Jar Jar Binks.
The story gets told as adequately as it needs to when it needs to. Without spoiling anything, a group of space thugs just needs to get a hold of a certain object before a sea of galactic goons retrieve it for an evil sorcerer. That sorcerer, by the way is nearly immortal and far too powerful for the Avengers to handle. The Guardians have got this one. Stuff gets complicated, and plenty of battles and personal scores to settle ensue. This is another standard Marvel formula with the plenty of room for originality and imagination, which it takes full advantage of.
There is plenty of character development, for each Guardian. This is done first and foremost and is established firsthand to the action, which there's already a plethora of. But the movie never skips a beat in its emotional resonance. There's always some personal stake going on for each character with every action sequence, and this happens for EACH character. It's impossible not to feel for them as they each deal with their epic fight or collective battle or bar brawl. For them it's always personal, and you always feel it.
Anyway I like to keep these short, and I've already failed at that, so I'll end here. Basically, just go see this movie. If you've seen Avengers (I mean who hasn't) then you know exactly what to expect. James Gunn follows Joss Whedon's style at every turn, and if something were to somehow happen that prevents Whedon from directing The Avengers 3, Gunn would be the man for the job. Marvel has hit another home run.
5% disappointing, 95% awesome
Granted this was my most anticipated movie this year. I honestly didn't mind the amount of screen time Godzilla had, sure they had opportunities to show him more (and earlier on) but I still think he was in it as much as he needed to be.
What did slightly disappoint me was that it got a little slow in the middle before the big monster showdown began and they seemed to show the other monsters more than they showed Godzilla, which is pretty ironic considering the title. But once the brawl went down that immediately went away for me.
Another thing, I know the human characters don't matter much in a Godzilla movie but they could've been much more engaging. I hate to say this but I just couldn't connect to Aaron Johnson's character at all...as the lead actor he should've shown far more emotion especially considering a lot of the dramatic stuff that happens to him and his family.
This disappointed me the most (Spoiler alert):
I know that looks like a lot for it to be just 5% disappointing but the movie itself almost completely made up for its flaws. The monster fights and moves are actually very creative, and I was a huge Godzilla fan ever since I was a kid so I've seen a lot of these. They never fail to surprise.
It was a brilliant idea to make Godzilla into an art-house-style disaster movie, at least the way I saw it. It didn't have pointless mayhem or monsters always slamming into each other so they could get entangled and indistinguishable. This movie takes its time, and when G finally shows up you don't even mind it that he arrives so late. I literally wanted to cheer in my theater in his fight scenes and every time he roared...brought me chills every time.
At least this time they show more of the disaster from the perspective of the citizens experiencing it, unlike almost every Roland Emmerich/Michael Bay disaster movie. They could learn a ton from Edwards' approach.
Pineapple Express (2008)
You don't have to be high to enjoy this hilarious thrill ride
The thing about Pineapple Express and its comparison with other action/comedies is that it's similar in its own unique way. You've got a simple premise, two guys on the run, consistent laughs and decent action sequences along the way. But what sets Pineapple Express apart is its impact of marijuana in the overall plot. Not only is weed what leads to the main conflict, but it also has an impact on the supposed friendship between the two main characters and has a surprising effect in the climax of the film. Good laughs, timely action and a hilarious performance from James Franco all define Pineapple Express as perhaps one of the most praiseworthy stoner flicks in years.
With a premise as simple as a stoner comedy needs, Pineapple Express is enjoyable to anyone. A lazy slacker stoner named Dale (Seth Rogen) witnesses a murder and is forced on the run along with his dealer (James Franco) after dropping a rare strand of marijuana called Pineapple Express, which can easily be traced back to both of them. While on the run, they meet an old friend (Danny McBride), run from crazy cop (Rosie Perez) and a drug lord (Gary Cole), and even discover their friendship along the way. Clearly marijuana has a deep impact on the story and climax, and along with great laughs and hilarious performances, Pineapple Express delivers at every level.
Despite Seth Rogen's notable performance, Danny McBride's breakthrough and Gary Cole's nice evil turn, James Franco clearly steals the scenes as Rogen's hippie pot dealer Saul Silver. With hilarious dialogue and not much awareness of anything, it is great to see a talented actor such as himself take such a great turn into comedy. Also, the movie properly bridges comedy and action by the climax toward the end, and that that point, one would think that nothing could be more fun than to see two stoners fending for their lives in such a crazy, smoke-filled and fast-paced situation. Overall, Pineapple Express is a fun-filled ride, and anyone looking for laughs--even those who aren't high out of their mind--won't go wrong with the bong-load of fun called Pineapple Express.