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Amy Schumer is just not funny.
Trainwreck is just painful to watch at times. Amu Schumer is NOT a leading lady and it has nothing to do with her looks, which is what feminists will claim. She is, quite frankly, obnoxious. Surprisingly she isn't a bad actress but too often her true personality comes through and, as a protagonist, it destroys much of the film. I think she would be better suited for the obnoxious friend of the main girl. Bill Hader does a solid job but is mostly forgettable. Honestly, the only reason this film is worth watching is for the plethora of celebrity cameos, highlighted by LeBron James. They all play versions of themselves in hilarious skits that fit neatly into the plot. If it wasn't for James, John Cena, Amare Stoudemire, etc. this film would be among the worst comedies I've seen in recent memory.
Closed out the franchise well.
While the first part of this two-part final installment was pretty poorly done, the second installment was largely redeeming. Mockingjay - Part 2 gave the series the closure fans long desired and did a great job of delivering the goods people have come to expect from the franchise. Of course, Jennifer Lawrence was once again breathtaking. Her ability to deliver such a wide range of emotions and characters separate her from most of Hollywood. What has made this franchise unique, however, is how the rest of the cast consistently matches her performance, and at times seems to even surpass her. It only took the fourth and final movie but Josh Hutcherson finally felt like Peeta Mellark. His performance in this film will surely be underrated as the franchise will get catalogued with the rest of the teen girl franchises of this generation and that's a shame because he shined. Liam Hemsworth and the rest of the supporting cast also carried their weight. The visuals were also fantastic as the continued "coming to life" of the book was a joy to see. The only real negatives with this particular movie are largely tied to the first one. Because this is essentially the second half of an incredibly long film, it felt lacking in plot development. I also thought the director failed to capture what might be the most critical scene in the entire book series. It was still in the film but it was lost a bit in the chaos. Schindler's List comes to mind in how it was able to convey such strong emotions with such simple visuals. I also feel that a similar cinematic effect should've been used at the end to truly capture Katniss' emotions as that key event unfolded. Overall though, I think this franchise will be best suited for marathoning.
Inside Out (2015)
One of Pixar's best!
Inside Out is one of the best animated films I've ever seen. The creativity that went into this film is yet another example for why the people at Pixar might be the greatest film makers of all-time. The voice acting was incredible, the visuals were flawless, the characters came alive in realistic ways, the plot was interesting and surprisingly moving, and the concept overall was just genius. The only flaw was that it did drag just a bit towards the middle of the film but that's just my opinion. Overall, I think this is a film that adults might actually enjoy even more than children. Honestly, I don't think children will even be able to appreciate much of the film.
The Equalizer (2014)
Decent but failed to live up to its potential.
I had high hopes for this movie and, while it largely lived up to them, I felt there were some glaring flaws that could've easily been avoided, which would've resulted in a superior film. For one, Antoine Fuqua did a mediocre job with the directing role. It almost felt like he had never directed a film in his entire life, found a list of all the cool camera tricks, angles, and cinematic effects, and felt compelled to include each and every one of them. How did this impact the movie? It made it seem as though it lacked any identity whatsoever. Secondly, there is a critical moment in the final major conflict resolution that is just terrible. To avoid spoilers, let's just say that the protagonist that had been established throughout the film makes a decision that he would never make. That, combined with the plot getting a little out of hand, made the last quarter or so of the movie hard to swallow. It wasn't all bad, however, as the rating should reflect. The acting was great and fighting sequences were done incredibly well. The build up and initial character and plot development were fantastic too. Unfortunately this film suffered from having a director who wanted to do everything instead of making a great movie.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Better than expected.
Mad Max: Fury Road was far from a perfect film but it was much more enjoyable than I anticipated. It was exciting, the acting was great, the story (yes, unlike what you've been told there's actually a story) was captivating and, while not really all that original, it felt fresh and unique in how it was told. Overall, this was very entertaining and I look forward to future installments. The negatives were that Charlize Theron has way too large of a role. Even in the trailer and promotional posters, she's clearly the star. Does this hurt the film? Not necessarily but it feels unnecessary. The story should've focused more on Max. We got almost no backstory for his character whatsoever and he maybe speaks a dozen lines. The other element that was a weak point was that some of the scenes were a bit too ridiculous. I expect some of it but not to the extent where you have a guy standing on top of a vehicle traveling at high speeds through the desert while playing an electric guitar with flames coming out of the tip. Yeah, that happens.
The Theory of Everything (2014)
The Theory of Everything was absolutely captivating. I use that term because I'm having trouble finding another word that does the film justice. Entertaining? Yes, but not in the traditional sense. Enjoyable? Sure, but it didn't leave you filled with joy necessarily. It pulls you in completely for two hours and doesn't let you go. Eddie Redmayne delivered one of the best roles I've seen in recent memory in his portrayal of Stephen Hawking. Not to be forgotten is Felicity Jones, whose genius in playing Jane Hawking is up to the task of matching Redmayne. Those two carry the film and director James Marsh does a brilliant job of harnessing their roles and creating the masterpiece that was this movie. From the acting to the score to the cinematography to the choking feeling you get at times, this movie is a must watch.
The Wedding Ringer (2015)
One of the best comedies of the year.
The Wedding Ringer was hands down one of my favorite comedy movies in years and I honestly didn't expect that at all. From trailers I thought this was going to be the least original comedy possible, merging Hitch and The Weddings Crashers into a cheesy, generic plot. After actually watching the movie, while it does have some of the elements from those films, it feels authentic and original throughout. The cast is all fantastic, with Josh Gad and Kevin Hart not having to carry the film but delivering roles that could've if required. The laughs weren't as abundant as I hoped but the film doesn't rely on them in place of content. The movie is rich with content so it doesn't use cheap laughs as a crutch the way most comedies do. Instead, it builds the humor and then truly delivers incredible comedy when it wants to. The emotions in the movie feel legitimate and the plot and characters develop in a way that makes them seem real... like if you know them and can see this taking place. Bottom line, it's difficult to explain why this movie translates so well. The critics proves once again that they don't understand humor but the actual viewer reviews seem rather positive, which is where I would suggest looking to in determining whether or not to watch the movie. For me, the refreshing take on comedy, where content doesn't take a backseat to laughter but doesn't replace it either, made for a great movie worth watching.
John Wick (2014)
Not much there but it is fun to watch.
If you're asking me if John Wick is entertaining, the answer would be a resounding "yes". The action is fantastic throughout most of the film, the gunplay is some of the best in modern cinema, and the unique elements of the film make for a combination of intrigue and strange humor that make the fairly short movie a joy to watch. If you're asking me if John Wick is a good quality movie, the answer is more of a "meh, not really... but it's not bad." The acting is almost non-existent (seemingly by design to fit Keanu Reeves' style), the plot is about as generic as they come, and the ending is laughable. During the first 90% of the film, they made an effort to be as realistic as possible. That end sequence almost erased all of it. It was still an entertaining movie but I was hoping for more.
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Better than expected but not without substantial faults.
Jupiter Ascending was much better than I anticipated. The acting and cast does a solid job, with Eddie Redmayne continuing to establish himself as a premier actor in Hollywood. The effects were adequate, though not necessarily up to par with the best of modern science-fiction/fantasy films. Honestly, the biggest drawbacks of the films were that the "strangeness" of the world presented to you (and the universe itself) doesn't feel sufficiently developed, the plot feels a tad bit cliché, and the plot seems to force the romance element on the audience around the halfway point in the film without every developing it previously. Negatives aside, however, and it was still a fairly enjoyable film with some potential.
Ant-Man was actually a really good movie, one of the better movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as of late. Paul Rudd was perfect for the role and the rest of the cast did marvelous (get it?). The movie took a little while to get going and it had one of the same drawbacks that the first Iron-Man had (where the villain can operate his suit with no practice whatsoever even though a large portion of the film is spent with the protagonist learning to control his "powers") but once it got going, the humor, action, and excitement was non-stop. Surprisingly, there was a fair amount of emotion as well, which helped connect the audience to the film. Overall, it's a must see for MCU fans and superhero fans in general but I think casual movie-goers will also appreciate it.