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I'm going to get something out of the way immediately. Terminator Genisys is the best Terminator film since Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). This doesn't mean that it's great. But it is the most enjoyable and most consistent Terminator film since 1991. Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003) and Terminator Salvation (2009) are remembered for their action scenes and little else. Terminator Genisys, on the other hand, stays solid from beginning to end. The marketing campaign for this big budget science fiction action film has been problematic. The trailers weren't really impressive, and the last trailer revealed a part of the plot that should have been kept secret until the film's release. I only like some of the promotional posters. Another thing that seemed strange is the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger (who's 67 years old now) as a T-800 Terminator. Why would an old man play a Terminator? Fortunately, Schwarzenegger's age isn't a problem in the film. His return is welcome by me. He also delivers one of the best performances. Another good performance is by Jason Clarke, who plays leader of the human resistance John Connor. What Clarke does in this film is much better than Christian Bale's bland performance as Connor. I won't even complain about the acting because Jai Courtney (Kyle Reese) and Emilia Clarke (Sarah Connor) are fine as well. They do the best with the dialogue that they've been given. The film's biggest problem is the screenplay by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier. It's by no means a wreck, but it's sometimes formulaic, unoriginal and poorly written. Perhaps there are even a few plot holes present. It's one of those things that people have come to expect from Hollywood films these days - a screenplay with poorly written characters. It was written with profits in mind. Still, there are a few good ideas in it, and it provides some good character interactions. When it comes to the characters, what works for me is the relation between Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese and the relation between Sarah Connor and Guardian. These are characters that one grows to like in the course of the film. So, even with the problematic screenplay, no one can really say that they hate Courtney, Clarke and Schwarzenegger in this film. There's a good amount of humor in Terminator Genisys. The film also has a lighter and brighter tone than its gritty and dark predecessors. This is something that I definitely enjoyed because the ending has an optimistic note. By the end, you want these characters to succeed. When it comes to how the film was scored, I can say that Lorne Balfe's music is the best since Brad Fiedel's score for Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Balfe's score isn't full of memorable themes, but this is definitely above average film scoring, with several pleasing tracks. I recommend buying or downloading the score. The biggest draw is, of course, the action. There's nothing here that we haven't seen before, but the film is action-packed nonetheless. The young audience will especially enjoy the robot vs. robot fights. Terminator Genisys has a PG rating, so there's nothing in the action that will offend people. This is what brings me to what mostly upset some fans of James Cameron's Terminator films. Because the filmmakers wanted this film to be family-friendly, they made it like a typical inoffensive summer blockbuster. But, in my opinion, this criticism has been harsh. It's been 30 years since the first Terminator film. One simply can't expect Hollywood to deliver something like James Cameron's effort again. Well, Cameron himself made Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009) since then, two films that not many people enjoy watching. So, do I recommend Terminator Genisys? Yes, I definitely recommend it. The 2014 remake of RoboCop, for example, really disappointed me, but this reboot of the Terminator franchise made me want to see Terminator Genisys again after it ended.
If you go to see Tomorrowland you should know that this is a film that's aimed at children. I took my girlfriend with me after telling her that I'll pay for the tickets. However, I didn't enjoy watching Tomorrowland as much as I thought I would. That's because there are a number of problems with this film. Firstly, this is more of an adventure film than a science fiction film. It's not so much about Tomorrowland as it is about getting to Tomorrowland. Secondly, while the characters are a likable group of people, they're not that interesting and their motivations aren't that clear. This is mostly a fault of the screenplay by Damon Lindelof. By the way, I was a bit impressed that they were able to find a young actor (Thomas Robinson) who actually resembles George Clooney. And, for once, we get to see a robot in a movie that's good and helpful and not bad and menacing. Thirdly, Tomorrowland is not a well-paced film. Scenes just happen, and you don't get the feeling that there's much of a purpose to what's going on. Logic also goes out the window during some scenes. Perhaps this wouldn't have been such a problem if a number of exciting action scenes were included. But there's hardly any action in the film. The best thing about Tomorrowland is the special effects. This is what one would expect from a $190 million production by Walt Disney Pictures. Tomorrowland itself is mostly a well-designed place. It's a futuristic city that one would definitely want to visit. It's best presented in one memorable lengthy sequence after Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) touches the T pin. But, again, the way that it's presented is best suited for a young audience because Tomorrowland seems more like a theme park than a place where people actually live. And in Disneyland it is a futuristic themed land. Before going to see this film, I watched many of the promotional videos on the internet. The filmmakers and actors mentioned that Tomorrowland is about optimism and innovation. This is something that, I think, works well in the film. While I was watching it I did get the feeling that I can get things done. This message of achievement and positivity is in great contrast to our current stagnant culture of doom and gloom. In a way, Tomorrowland is meant to represent the 1950s and 1960s, a time when things were much better in America. So, do I recommend the film? Yes, I recommend the film. It is, for the most part, enjoyable to watch. It has a good message. But keep in mind that it's a film for children, so adults won't like it as much because the end result is more formulaic than inspired.
I wasn't really excited to see Insurgent, but since my girlfriend wanted to see it I went along with her. I've seen Divergent last year and thought that it's a fine science fiction adventure film for young adults. Though there was too much fighting and too many guns for my taste. Insurgent begins three days after the previous installment and immediately seems like a more entertaining film. That's because it's not burdened by exposition describing what the world is like in this series. There's also more action, something that helps to keep momentum until the thrilling ending. This is again a story about Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) and her fight against Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and the rest of Erudite. In this difficult struggle she gets help from her boyfriend Four (Theo James), who's really just about every girl's dream man. This time around Woodley shows that she's a very good actress by providing Tris with a considerable amount of depth. There's a reason why the trailers for this film featured footage from the ending. The ending is easily the most compelling part of the film. That's when the science fiction elements come into play. That's when the CGI is used to good effect for the simulations, which are reminiscent of some of the best parts of The Matrix (1999). That's when there are dramatic scenes that truly leave viewers in wonder. In fact, watching the ending of Insurgent was the best time I've had in a movie theater this year before I watched Mad Max: Fury Road. But Insurgent is no Fury Road, and unless you're familiar with the world of this series by author Veronica Roth you won't get much enjoyment out of watching this film. So, do I recommend it? Yes, I recommend Insurgent. You get to see Woodley, James, Zoe Kravitz and Miles Teller on screen, along with accomplished actors Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts and Ashley Judd. The film was scored well by Joseph Trapanese. The CGI is used to good effect in the film's impressive visuals. Sure, Insurgent treads water for the majority of its running time, and the concept of this dystopia story is near ridiculous. However, there's some interesting science fiction on display in addition to the action.
When I was in a movie theater waiting for Avengers: Age Of Ultron to begin playing, I had low expectations for the film. I've read the reviews online, and many people were saying that Age Of Ultron is dumb, boring and overstuffed with mindless action. In other words, they were saying that this is Marvel's first turkey. So there I was sitting and expecting the worst. After what seemed like half an hour of commercials and trailers, the film began with thrilling action, with the Avengers on a mission. During the fighting new characters were introduced and their powers were demonstrated. This set up everything that followed. I definitely enjoyed the opening act. But wait, some reviewers mentioned that there's a dull middle section after the thrilling opening. So I kept on waiting for the film to get stuck in the mud. An hour passed and Age Of Ultron continued to entertain. In fact, even though the film is over 2 hours long, the time just flies by. After an hour passed I began to realize that the reviewers were wrong or that they were judging the film harshly. I'm pleased to say that Age Of Ultron is another success for Marvel Studios. Actually, I wasn't even thinking about this much because the film kept my attention until the very end. Sure, it's a Hollywood product, but it's a Hollywood product written and directed by Joss Whedon. So Whedon once again delivered what he should have delivered - a real superhero movie. People seem to forget that Age Of Ultron is a superhero movie. It's not The Godfather (1972). It's not Chinatown (1974). And it's not serious science-fiction like Solaris (1972). It's a film based on comic book material. And it delivers what it should - action, comedy, special-effects, fantastic characters and a world under threat. By the way, Whedon delivered all this with intelligence and style. The Avengers - Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye - are as good as ever. Their interactions are witty, fun and dramatic when needed. The new characters - Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch - are welcome additions. They're played well by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. But there's also Vision (Paul Bettany), whose role in the film is almost as important as that of the villain Ultron (James Spader). So I've got to say that this film really surprised me. It's even more entertaining than The Avengers (2012). It may not be better than the first Avengers film, but it's another solid entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After the impressive Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) I was a bit disappointed by Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014). After watching Age Of Ultron I had the same feeling that I got after watching The Winter Soldier - that things can only go up from here. I definitely recommend Age Of Ultron, and I can't wait to see it again myself. The battle at the end was amazing too by the way.
I can't say that Annabelle is a good film. There's nothing original about it. But I can say that I found it to be fine and pleasant to watch. Sure, there are a number of well executed scares, but its 1969 setting and cinematography by James Kniest provide it with a dreamy quality. Annabelle isn't about gore. It's that rare film these days that aims to scare you by building dread with patience and restraint. Director John R. Leonetti should be applauded for this. The best executed sequence occurs at the beginning of the film when we get to see what happens to Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John Form's (Ward Horton) neighbors through their bedroom window. On the downside the script by Gary Dauberman just doesn't have enough good material for the film's 99 minute running time. Just like in The Conjuring (2013) there is a buildup of scares until the shocking ending, but in Annabelle this becomes repetitive because the scares are practically the same. This didn't bother me much though because Wallis and Horton are charismatic enough actors to make us care about Mia and John. I definitely liked them more than the characters in The Conjuring. It's not hard to realize that Annabelle is influenced by Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby. While it's not as good as that 1968 film, Annabelle is still a good time at the movies and I recommend it. The film may seem like a cash grab after the success of The Conjuring, but Leonetti and the actors turned it into something enjoyable.
I wasn't excited to see this film. That's because I've read all three Hunger Games books by author Suzanne Collins, and I knew that the first part of Mockingjay includes very little action. Still, I like what director Francis Lawrence did with Catching Fire (2013) so, when I had the time, I watched Mockingjay - Part 1. This was over a month after it was released in theaters. I have to say that I was again impressed by what Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson managed to do. Mockingjay - Part 1 is not a dull film. In fact, it's quite entertaining. In my opinion, director Lawrence should get most of the credit. Together with the producers he once again made a thrilling and well-paced film in which not one scene is wasted. Parts of the film can even be called inspired. The actors also did a good job. I don't think that there's one performance that stood out for me but every actor was solid. This time Josh Hutcherson, playing Peeta Mellark, managed to pull off a good performance. It's particularly effective during the Capitol television interviews. In my previous reviews I mentioned that Jennifer Lawrence doesn't have the looks to play Katniss Everdeen. But I admit that she really is a good actress, and for this film she delivered her best Katniss performance yet. But it's Donald Sutherland, the master actor, who continues to impress the most as Coriolanus Snow. The way he speaks and his facial expressions are mesmerizing. He makes every second count, and in the bleak offering that is Mockingjay - Part 1 he is particularly memorable. Of course, this film is a Hollywood product, even if it is very well-made. It also doesn't leave a lasting impression on viewers, which is the big reason why reviewers didn't like it as much as, for example, Catching Fire. There's no big payoff or struggle at the end of the film. It can only be viewed as the first part of a larger film. But I still recommend it. The film's marketing campaign made me interested, and when I watched Mockingjay - Part 1 I wasn't disappointed at all.
I can't say that I wanted to see Penguins Of Madagascar, but my girlfriend convinced me to go with her. I wasn't against it because for me there weren't any exciting movie releases during December of 2014 and January of 2015. I've seen the penguins (Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private) before in Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012), a film that I definitely enjoyed because of its creativity and comedy. The penguins are adorable secondary characters, and I thought that they should have their own spin-off movie. It seems that others thought so too because now we have Penguins Of Madagascar, which takes place right after the events of Madagascar 3. It is unrelated to the TV series about the penguins. It's a kid-friendly movie, but it still contains the comedy and action that adults love. Directors Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith squeeze in a few lessons during the film, most importantly it's what you do that counts and not how you look. But these don't make much of an impact in the formulaic setup. Penguins Of Madagascar is an obvious attempt to make more money, so it never seems like an important film. Still, the jokes come often, and the brief origin story at the beginning is fantastic. What follows doesn't measure up to the inspired opening though. The film never becomes desperate or lazy even when it's not particularly funny. The voice cast did a good job bringing the characters to life. Tom McGrath (Skipper) in particular never ceases to amuse with his fearless drill-sergeant voice. So, even if there's nothing great about Penguins Of Madagascar, it's definitely a good time at the movies. My girlfriend and I both liked it. I recommend it.
When going to see this film I had no idea what it's about or what it'll be like. I only knew that David "Seven" Fincher is the director of the film. Two things become clear when you're watching Gone Girl - it's surprisingly entertaining and it's for adults. Only adults will appreciate the clever humor and characterization in this film. Most people have been raving about how good Rosamund Pike is in Gone Girl. She's definitely good but, in my opinion, Ben Affleck is the one who provides the best performance. In fact, casting him was a brilliant move. Affleck does expert work as the "lazy, lying, cheating, oblivious" Nick Dunne. With his excellent performance Affleck carries most of the film, especially the first half. The scenes that Affleck shares with Carrie Coon, who plays Nick's twin sister Margo, are some of the best in the film, easing the tension that's been building up. Coon is very good, as is the rest of the cast. Rosamund Pike, playing Nick's missing wife Amy, sure does deserve the praise that she's been given by critics. Pay attention to her facial expressions, especially in the second half of the film. Her attention to detail is commendable. She practically makes every second worthwhile. I've watched the cast interviews on the internet, and author/screenwriter Gillian Flynn has pointed this out too. I generally like British actresses, even if they are from the establishment. Pike looked terrific in her first film, the entertaining but ridiculous Die Another Day (2002), and she's delivered good performances in other films, like Barney's Version (2010) and Pride & Prejudice (2005). Pike is bewitching in the film, especially in the first half, but when it comes time to show "amazing Amy's" or rather "pretending Amy's" mental imbalance she's frightening. Even Tyler Perry delivers his first solid performance as Nick's attorney Tanner Bolt. The plot of Gone Girl is similar to a number of Alfred Hitchcock's films. In this mystery thriller a man is accused, maybe falsely, of a crime. What follows is compelling and often unexpected, as Fincher and Affleck examine dishonesty, the media, the economy's effects on marriage, and the way people perceive one another. For some time I couldn't figure out what the establishment message of Gone Girl is. But when I was writing this review it finally hit me - the message is that marriage is a difficult and unpleasant affair, especially after the initial "good" days have passed. Still, I recommend this film even if it does have this anti-marriage message. It's Fincher's most entertaining release yet.
Big Hero 6 is a film for children but adults will easily enjoy watching this animated superhero action-comedy too. In fact, it's so entertaining that it's easy to overlook that the story is practically incoherent. The typical lessons about sacrifice and the importance of forgiveness seem forced as well. But the characters are a distinct and likable group. There's been much talk about how cute and lovable Baymax (Scott Adsit) is. And Baymax is certainly a clever creation. Considering the robotic voice of this warmhearted machine it's a big success that Adsit never makes this simple character seem repetitive or boring. Baymax is such a likable character that one genuinely begins to care about the robot long before the film is over. The other characters, however, are just as interesting. It's a formula of appealing to just about everyone in the audience. I mean, of course, the Big Hero 6 team. The genius boy Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) suffers a big loss and goes on a compelling mission to find out what happened. With him are Fred (T. J. Miller), GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.) and Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez). They're cool characters. In the hands of the voice cast and directors Don Hall and Chris Williams they're often funny too. In addition, the comedy is surprisingly clever, going above what's usually shown in animated fare these days. Since the film is an origins story it's actually very similar to other superhero movies if you take a closer look at what's happening. But because of the setting, comedy and action (let's also not forget the fitting music by Henry Jackman) it's easy to overlook this. The city of San Fransokyo is a futuristic metropolis that just has to be seen. Like everything else in the film it's beautifully designed. The colors are bright and the designs are fresh. I guess it's no secret that the filmmakers drew inspiration from Japanese anime and Japanese culture. John Lasseter, who's been overseeing the projects of Walt Disney Pictures for years now, is known for being a fan of Japanese animation. He's honestly managed to improve the quality of Disney films. Bolt (2008), Tangled (2010), Wreck-It-Ralph (2012) and Frozen (2013) were all terrific, memorable releases. Big Hero 6 is no different, and it may be the craftiest, most appealing release yet. I recommend it.
Interstellar is a film about space travel and the heroism of reaching for something greater. The optimistic and forward-looking themes of this film are something that we haven't seen in American science-fiction movies for a long time. Because of this, Interstellar is definitely closest to 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and The Right Stuff (1983). And like those two masterworks of film-making it's mostly about human nature and going into the unknown. Director Christopher Nolan and his screenwriter brother Jonathan have always tried to bring intelligence to their screenplays. One can find faults with the execution of the ideas in this film but it remains thought-provoking regardless. There isn't much action in Interstellar. Most of the time is spent on showing a nearly inhospitable future world and the mission to explore new worlds. Still, since this is a Nolan film, the action that's included is thrilling and no less awe-inspiring than in his previous films. In fact, the action alone is worth the price of admission. It's that good. I can fault Nolan for spending too much time on Earth because in Interstellar this setting just isn't that interesting. The messages of Environmentalism are also easy to notice. Sure, the time is spent on getting to know Cooper's (Matthew McConaughey) family and why he decides to leave. But because this is a science-fiction movie it would have been better to spend more time on what happens in space. Interstellar is a slice of escapism with surprisingly good performances from the actors. Fascinating and thrilling scenes in the film are especially aided by Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy, Wes Bentley and Matt Damon. McConaughey effectively brings Cooper's internal conflict to the surface. He turns the widowed astronaut into a likable protagonist. I'll end my review by mentioning that Interstellar feels like an epic film. When it's over there's a feeling that a lot has happened. This visually dazzling experience takes unexpected turns. I can easily say that it's Nolan's best film since The Dark Knight (2008). Some people may disagree with me on this. I like Inception (2010) too, and I like The Dark Knight Rises (2012) in particular. Interstellar, however, is Nolan's most ambitious film. It's good enough to stand among the most ambitious science-fiction films ever produced. I recommend it.
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