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Still under construction, so don't yell on me for not including some on the list
Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)
Completely Lacks the Magic of the First One
Let me make something clear: I flat out loved the first Pitch Perfect movie with an insane passion. I saw it seven times in theaters, and listened to the soundtrack nonstop. Even today, I give that movie a 9.5/10. After they announced they were making a sequel, I was beyond excited and followed all the news. I was pumped to finally see it, so it really makes me sad to say this, but Pitch Perfect 2 is just....really not a good movie
First of all, I want to point out: Pitch Perfect 2 assumes that the audience has seen the first film, as there is no introduction to any of the characters and they expect you to already be familiar with the characters and events of the first. Therefore, I do believe it is fair to compare it to the first movie, and look at this movie as a sequel rather than its own movie. On a related note, I will also assume everyone is familiar with the names from the first movie throughout the review.
Now, what is Pitch Perfect 2 about? Along with A LOT of subplots, one of the Bellas' performances goes embarrassingly wrong, and because of it they are banned from performing in any competitions, and a deal is made where if the Bellas win the world championship, they will be fully reinstated as an active acapella group. More or less, this is the main plot of the film.
Before getting into any negatives, let's talk about what was good about the movie. The first Pitch Perfect made Anna Kendrick my celebrity crush, and she isn't any less adorable in this than she was in the first. I enjoyed her character's arc much more than anything else about this movie. Then of course, I can't review this movie without talking about the music. Most of the music in this movie is enjoyable and fun to listen to, and the surprising "song cameos" are really fun, as they were in the first. Now, this makes me very sad to say, but....that's it for the positives of Pitch Perfect 2.
I think the biggest thing that makes Pitch Perfect 2 suffer is the writing. Aside from all the jokes that fall flat, all of the supporting characters from the first are completely glossed over and are underused. For example, the sex-crazed girl from the first has less than 10 lines throughout the entire film. Of these lines, only one of them is about her sex obsession, which was such a big part of her character. Then Chloe has an exaggerated version of the character arc that Aubrey had in the first: she needs to realize that the Bellas isn't her life and she needs to move on. Then the character who gets the most focus is the newcomer, Emily (played by Hailee Steinfeld). I honestly found her presence to have no point other than to give the movie another subplot to fill in the runtime.
Speaking of subplots, this movie is FULL of them. At least five of the characters have their own arc, all while the main plot is going on. Then there is an extremely underdeveloped "everyone needs to grow up" type of arc that involved all the characters and went on and off throughout the movie. Honestly, I felt this arc should have been the main plot movie, or at least the overall tone/message of it. With all the subplots, it almost felt as if the writers wished the first Pitch Perfect was a TV show and tried to condense a season's worth of development and arcs into one movie. Then it also felt like the writers tried to capitalize on the small stuff in the first one that everyone really liked. Everyone liked the ambiguous relationship between Fat Amy and Bumper, so they gave it its own subplot. Everyone loved the acapella announcer who was implied to be a misogynist, so they made him say a sexist comment almost every time he was on screen. Everyone loved the weird remarks that the quiet, Asian girl made, so they completely amped up her weirdness.
As for the directing, I do like Elizabeth Banks as an actress, but I was really not fond of her as a director. The directing with the dancing was a lot more sexualized and less focused than the first one, and there were a handful of slow-motion sequences of the girls partying that served no purpose to the plot and brought the film to a screeching halt.
However, the BIGGEST problem I had with Pitch Perfect 2 was the music. Even though I did mentioned the music as one of my positives, I felt no need to listen to the soundtrack after the movie ended. Even now, I can't remember 4/5ths of the songs that were sung in the movie off the top of my head. That was one of the things that made the first Pitch Perfect so special. After I saw the first one, I bought the soundtrack and could not stop listening to it. With the sequel, there were only two songs throughout the entire movie that I was remotely interested in listening to again. The music does not have the magic that the music in the previous movie did, and because of this, the music can't carry the movie on its own, which would have been possible if it had the charm of the first.
In the end, Pitch Perfect 2 almost made me forget how much I loved the first Pitch Perfect, and is probably my biggest disappointment of 2015. As I watched this movie, my rating went down from a 6/10, to a 5/10, and then finally to a 4/10. I do not see myself re- watching this any time in the future, and I highly recommend just skipping this one entirely and sticking with the first film.
If I Stay (2014)
Watchable, but very Disappointing and Forgettable
When I first saw the trailer for If I Stay back in April, I got chills and it quickly became one of my top five most anticipated movies of the summer. From then on, I stayed away from all other trailers and clips so that I could see the movie knowing as little as possible, to the point where I'd put the TV spots on mute and run out of the theater when a trailer came on. Based on the trailer I saw, I honestly expected something similar to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or a dramatic Inception. However, after having finally seen it this weekend, I am sad to report that If I Stay is nothing like that at all, and is instead probably my most disappointing movie of the summer.
If I Stay follows Mia, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, an 18 year old girl who likes classical music and cello, and who's still not quite over her ex, Adam (Jamie Blackley). Then on a snowy day, her life is completely turned upside down when her family and she get into a deadly car crash, sending her into a coma. In this coma, she has an out of body experience in which she needs to decides either to die and go up to heaven or live with the physical and emotional repercussions, all while flashing back to the relationship she and Adam had.
The movie is primarily made up of flashbacks to the relationship that Mia and Adam had, and the chemistry that the two of them share isn't very strong and can be described as okay at best. Chloe Grace Moretz is a talented young actress who really gives it her best in this film, whereas her costar Jamie Blackley ranges from decent to mediocre. The relationship between their two characters is cute and sort of fun for the first half of the movie. However, in the second half when their relationship slowly starts to go downhill, Adam becomes a jerk and is unlikeable and unreasonable, which made me have a tough time feeling bad for him when he was an emotional wreck. Also, with Adam and Mia's relationship, something felt missing. Rather than true love, it felt like a typical high school relationship where the two people think they're love, then someday breakup and later realize that they never actually were in love.
Then all the other characters are either annoying or underdeveloped. Mia's parents are somewhat likable, however, most of their jokes and dialogue come off as either flat or cringe-worthy. Then there's this couple who is close friends to Mia's parents, and they are present in the hospital for most of the movie and in many of the flashbacks. In one scene they talk about never wanting to have children, but then they are later seen in another scene with a baby (referred to as their son) who is then never referenced or seen again afterwards. The one exception to all this would be Mia's grandfather, played by Stacy Keach, and he had one scene in particular that I did really like (those who have seen the movie can probably guess what scene it was). Perhaps I am just being biased since I do enjoy Keach and his acting, but I do think he gave a good performance.
Now I have some things to say regarding the ending. I'm not going to outright say any spoilers, but I'm kind of going to imply what happens in the end. Therefore, if you do not want anything spoiled about If I Stay, skip this next paragraph.
Mia makes her decision to stay or leave based off of a five minute speech that one character makes to her, and then the movie ties itself up really nice in a bow and leaves everything real hopeful and bright for the characters. While I do like happy endings, I felt in this case a less hopeful ending would have been better suited to really make her decision difficult. Not Requiem For a Dream level hopeless, but rather cutting the whipped cream and cherry on top. However, I do have to say that with the route they chose, the last ten seconds of the film were perfect. The place where the last shot cut could not have been better.
In the end, If I Stay is just another average teen romance movie, and it's not even all that interesting. The trailer makes the movie seem like a tear-jerking drama that takes place all in her mind about her decision to live or die, when in reality, it's a high school love story consisting of 70% flashbacks that only spends a small portion with her out of body experience. I REALLY don't want to give this movie anything below a 6/10 because of how much I had been looking forward to it for so long, but I have to give it a 5/10. It's even possible that in the future my score will go even lower. While it is somewhat entertaining, If I Stay is a rather weak romance movie for teens and is overall very forgettable.
Filled with Gross-out Humor and Few Redeeming Qualities
Seth MacFarlane is mainly famous for presenting us with the television show Family Guy and the 2012 comedy Ted. I enjoy sitting down and watching Family Guy on occasion, and I really enjoyed Ted. That being said, I was excited to see A Million Ways To Die In The West.
A Million Ways To Die In The West has a rather cluttered plot. So in the simplest way I can describe what the film is about: MacFarlane's character, Albert, is a shy farmer in the West. Then after Albert's girlfriend (played by Amanda Seyfried) breaks up with him, Anna (Charlize Theron) strolls into town and develops a friendship with Albert and teaches him how to shoot, and I can't really get into anything else about this cluttered plot without confusing anyone or spoiling anything.
After seeing Neighbors (probably the funniest movie I've seen so far this summer) I was excited to see A Million Ways To Die In The West. So, is it as funny as Neighbors? Is it the comedy that everyone needs to see this summer? Well, sadly, no, it isn't even close to being that. The movie as a whole is not very funny or enjoyable.
Before getting into any of my negatives, allow me to start with the positives. First of all, Sarah Silverman and Giovanni Ribisi are probably the funniest part about this movie. They have great chemistry and they're quippy and funny. Also, Liam Neeson continues to be awesome in all his roles. No matter how bad the movie is, he's always great in his roles. Another thing the film has going for it is a handful of unexpected cameos that made me smile and go "Hey look! it's _____!" whenever one came on.
Getting into the negatives, Seth MacFarlane does have a few moments where his humor shines, but 80% of the time, it falls flat. Neil Patrick Harris (who plays Albert's ex' new boyfriend) seriously did not make me laugh once. His character especially annoyed me and I did not enjoy any moment in which he was on screen. Also, Amanda Seyfried's character feels like dead weight, whose presence is only being used for a plot point that could have easily been tailored out.
The humor in this movie doesn't consist of the clever humor that Ted had. Instead, it relies heavily on gross-out humor and offensive humor, similar to some of the newer episodes of Family Guy. Right now I can name at least three moments of this movie that made me cringe and go "Oh gosh..." out of the sheer grossness of what was happening. I even heard someone in the theater say out loud "That was NOT necessary to show..." And frankly, they couldn't have been more right. I'm not going to lie, I did chuckle at a few jokes (mainly due to Silverman and Ribisi), but I can probably count all the times I laughed on my fingers.
Despite all this, A Million Ways To Die In The West does has an EPIC cameo in the final thirty seconds that literally made me laugh out loud in awe (not the one shown in the trailers). It actually made me consider bumping up my rating from a 4/10 to a 5/10, and it might just be worth sitting through the movie just to see. Sitting through all the gross-out jokes, crude humor, disgusting gags, and unfunny dialogue...actually, on second thought, you'd probably be better off just YouTubing a collaboration video of all the cameos and avoiding this film entirely.
Three Years of Build-Up Does More Than Payoff
When Rise of the Planet of the Apes first came out in 2011, I was surprised by how good it was. It was so good that it made it in my top 3 favorite movies of 2011, and it's even one of my favorite movies in general. I had been anticipating the sequel ever since 2011, so I had been following the movie from the very beginning. When Matt Reeves was cast to direct, I got excited, as he had directed Cloverfield a few years prior (which is one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time).
Today when I finally sat in the theater for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I didn't know what to expect. Some of the thoughts whizzing through my mind included: "Will it be as good as the first?", "Will it be disappointing?", "Will it be amazing?", "Will it be terrible?", "Will I be able to take the apes seriously?". When the opening logos came on, I braced myself, hoping that it would be good. Two hours later, I walked out of the theater with my eyes and mouth wide open, completely mesmerized by what I had just seen. Was it good? Oh yes. It was GREAT.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes picks up a couple of years after it's predecessor. Speaking of it's predecessor, there are several connections to the first movie. Because of this, I strongly recommend seeing Rise of the Planet of the Apes before seeing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (not only because it's important to the second, but because it's a great movie). But if you see the sequel without seeing the first, you'll probably be able to fill in all the blanks. In the first act, I was surprised by how much I actually got into the apes and their storyline. When I noticed this, I began to worry that it would be an imbalanced story with more of the focus/sympathizing shifted towards the apes. However, in the second act, any and all worries of this were dismissed. The humans are equally as interesting as the apes and are just as worthy of being rooted for. The best way I can describe how I felt about the two sides in a sentence: in the first act I was rooting for the apes, in the second act I was rooting for the humans, and in the last act I was rooting for both.
The acting in this movie is very well-done too. Something I noticed was that each of the different apes have different personalities and traits, rather than all of them having the same traits. The actors playing the humans are just as great and slip right into their roles. The acting with the apes and the humans are all excellent.
The plot of the film and the way how plot points are executed is incredible. Things happened that legitimately shocked me. The plot went places that I never would guess it would. Not to mention, the action in this movie is just flat out AWESOME. Everything is there, from the edge of your seat fight scenes to the white-knuckling tension. In addition to all this, not only is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes directed and acted well, but it's also rather high on the emotional factor too. I haven't cried in any movie this year (including The Fault In Our Stars), but during Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I'm not gonna lie, I teared up a bit.
Prior to seeing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I thought that X-Men: Days of Future Past was the best movie of 2014 thus far. However, after seeing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I have to say that the two are tied for the title. Three years of build-up and anticipation DEFINITELY pays off. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes gets a 10/10 from me. Easily as good as (if not better than) its predecessor. Do yourself a favor and see it. It's definitely worth it.
The Purge (2013)
Such a Shame To See a Great Premise Go To Waste
I remember I first heard about this film in an ad before a YouTube video. It started with a voice-over said "Don't skip this ad. You are about to see the trailer for the most disturbing movie of the year." That was a bold statement, considering Evil Dead had already come out and The Conjuring was right around the corner. So naturally, I was curious and didn't skip the ad. One of the first things I noticed was that Ethan Hawke was in the film. I am a fan of Ethan Hawke, and since he was in Sinister a few months prior (one of the scariest films I've ever seen), I was even more curious. Then I noticed the interesting premise about all crime being legal for 24 hours, and as I sat and watched the trailer, I thought "You know, this movie has a lot of potential if they do it right..."
Finally, June arrived and the release date came along, so I saw the film. I was surprised to see a lot of awful acting, bad directing, and a poorly written story. Any and all potential that this premise had was completely wasted. The filmmakers took the premise and did the laziest thing possible: they made it into a cheap slasher flick. The Purge tries to make you feel isolated/alone in a small area with people hunting you, much like how the first Alien movie did. But The Purge relies too much on jump-scares to scare you, which is not a good tactic for horror movies. Good horror has slow-building tension and a release, two things that The Purge has none of.
The characters and the acting are similar in the sense that they're terrible and make you angry. The kids make HORRIBLE decisions, and even in some instances, endanger their own lives. For example, there is a scene where the daughter is upset with her parents, so she walks off, while the people are still invading their house. She risks her life just to act rebellious. Then the people invading the house aren't great either. They all seem to wear masks and act insane to seem creepy. This could have worked, but the moment someone fires a gun at them, they immediately stop acting this way, and they take cover and act like regular people, which gets rid of any creepiness of them possibly being mentally insane.
My final rating for The Purge is a 3/10. I hoped that this movie would at least be worthy of a Redbox rent, but it isn't even worth that. Part of me feels that I went in expecting too much, and I probably did. However, in a way, with the marketing and the premise, I didn't expect too much out of it. If you say that your movie is the most disturbing movie of the year, then you better give me the most disturbing movie of the year.
Silent House (2011)
One of the Worst Movies of 2012
The whole gimmick of Silent House is that the whole movie is one long, unbroken shot. This is a cool concept with good potential. Does the film deliver? Well...no, it doesn't.
The cinematography felt like the cameraman was just a character who was never acknowledged (similar to the film Chernobyl Diaries). Some of the camera angles were filmed inconveniently in an attempt to make them creepier (for instance, there is a part where the main character walks out a door for a second and the camera films her from the crack between the door and the wall). These shots don't come off as creepy at all. They're just annoying. Overall, the cinematography isn't good. The acting isn't good either. There is a part in the movie where the main character is screaming and freaking out, and I couldn't help but laugh. It's that bad. The whole writing or "plot" of the movie is basically the main character walking around and reacting to noises. There was a part in this movie where I literally yelled at the screen because the main character made such a stupid decision. Then in the last 15 minutes they try to shoehorn an actual plot in, and this "plot" not only is incredibly lame, but it doesn't make sense!
Overall, everything about Silent House is terrible and I cannot think of a single good thing in the movie, which makes it good for nothing. (Just to give an idea on how bad it is, I was longing for it to be over and the second the credits finally came on, I was seriously overjoyed with happiness) 1/10
UPDATE: Two months later, I can barely remember anything from it