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While I will be including certain politicians/political commentators on this list, I will not be including politicians from outside the United States. I will also not be including people who became famous for infamously breaking the law, like Jeffrey Dahmer. A person could end up on the list for that if they were famous before the event in question happened.
I will also include any movies of theirs that I don't like and I will start to add summaries of what I like about them.
Well Shot and Acted, Everything Else is Eh
Steven Spielberg has made a lot of good historical dramas in his career. "Bridge of Spies" and "Saving Private Ryan" were both excellent, and "Schindler's List" is the best movie I've ever seen. I was looking forward to watching this movie, but unfortunately I was let down.
"Munich" follows a group of Israelis who are tasked with hunting down and killing the terrorists of Black September who were responsible for the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games.
To make a historical drama good, you need one of two things. You either need an interesting historical figure to base the movie around, or you need an interesting historical event that's on-screen progression will enthrall people. "Bridge of Spies" and "Schindler's List" had both of these elements. "Munich" has neither.
The characters in the movie are all interchangeable with one another and have no real personality. The five members of Eric Bana's team are all the same person, except they each have a different skill.
The historical story chosen doesn't have anything of interest happening in it either. It is just a typical revenge story. Even more detrimental, it does not feel like there is a satisfactory conclusion to the story. It just isn't a very interesting piece of history to make into a three hour long movie. A better piece of history to focus on would have been the actual Munich massacre instead of the aftermath.
While this is a bad historical drama, I can not say in good conscious that is a bad movie. The movie is well written, well shot, well acted, and well directed for the most part. There is one scene where the way it was put together was confusing. The only technical aspect that was bad was the lighting, as every scene was saturated with light and looked ugly.
There are a lot of good historical dramas out there, and a lot of good ones made by Steven Spielberg. This is not one of them.
Dumb and or Pretentious
"Rubber" is a movie that celebrates its own genius and wit while, in reality, being the moronic ramblings from a screenwriter who thinks he's smarter than he really is.
In the first couple of minutes, a car runs over a row of chairs that are randomly set up in the middle of the desert and a sheriff (Stephen Spinella) gets out of the trunk. He goes on to talk about how in movies and real life, there is no reason, while listing off aspects of famous movies that did have reason to them. People argue that the things the sheriff listed were supposed to have reason to them, but that begs the question if the movie is supposed to be a celebration of no reason, why list things that have reason to them?
Then, there is a random group of people in the middle of the desert watching the events of the movie unfold as if they were in a movie theater watching the event in the laziest and most blatant form of self-awareness I've seen since watching "21 Jump Street."
Even if the movie lacked its moronic "depth," it would still be a dull and stupid movie. It's over an hour of a tire rolling around and exploding things. Nothing more. At best, it would just be repetitive.
This movie is not smart. It is a pretentious movie with little thought designed to inflate writer and director Quentin Dupieux's own ego and make him feel smart when in reality, he clearly had no clue what was going on or what he was doing.
The Revenant (2015)
Defeated by ambivalence
"The Revenant" is a movie that did so much correctly. Thanks to the superb work of director Alejandro Inarritu and the cast and crew, the movie is full of flawless cinematography, sound editing, acting, directing, and visuals. The characters are not interchangeable and all of their motivations make sense. By all accounts, this should be a great movie. There is, however, something weighing it down.
After being mauled by a bear, frontier man Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is left under the care of three others while the rest of his team makes it back to their fort. One member of the team, Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) kills Glass' son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), and leaves Glass for dead, fleeing back to the fort. Hellbent on revenge, Glass travels across the dangerous wilderness back towards the fort to find Fitzgerald.
Glass' motivation for wanting revenge makes sense: Fitzgerald killed his son and left him for dead, though Glass seems to not care as much about the being left for dead part. The problem is that the entire situation just makes you ambivalent to Glass' struggle. Fitzgerald only killed Hawk after he was making noise and Fitzgerald couldn't get him to quiet down. He was also in the middle of dangerous territory and bringing the wounded Glass along was most likely suicide. He is clearly a bad person, but based on the circumstances, his clear life picture, and the time period that the movie takes place in, it can be viewed as less evil and more of survival instinct.
As you can make these defenses to Fitzgerald, when Glass goes after him, your only reason to actually care is because Glass is the protagonist. I personally found myself not caring if Glass got his revenge or not. Since the lust for revenge is what pilots the movie, it ends up feeling long and boring because you can't connect with any of the characters.
"The Revenant" has a lot of flawless qualities to it. Getting you to care about the story is not one of them.
God's Not Dead (2014)
Propaganda and bad drama makes this movie trash
Based on the description of the movie given by IMDb and Netflix, you'd think this movie would be about a Christian student, Josh (Shane Harper), and his atheist philosophy professor, Dr. Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) debating the existence of God and raise points for both sides in order for the audience to make up their own minds about the debate. What the description leaves out is that the movie is pretty much a one-sided argument that reaches levels of hypocrisy and propaganda that I didn't see coming.
Josh, a devout Christian who is just beginning his first semester at college, is put into Professor Radisson's philosophy class. Within the first five minutes of the class, Radisson asks all of his students to a sign a piece of paper declaring that God is dead in order to more easily get a passing grade. Everyone does so except for Josh, whom Radisson says must defend his stance in front of the class. Within this first scene with Josh and Radisson, we see the propaganda of the movie. Radisson, an atheist, is a snobby, know-it- all who won't respect anyone else's opinion on the subject while Josh is just passionately defending what he believes in.
This is the same with all of the characters. Any character who is Christian is portrayed as a good human being while any atheist is portrayed poorly. There are two siblings, Mina (Cory Oliver) and Mark (Dean Cain) and they have an ailing mother (Lenore Banks). Mina, a Christian, goes to visit her often while Mark, an atheist, rarely visits her and even breaks up with his girlfriend (Trisha LaFache) for having cancer. It doesn't end there either. Josh's girlfriend (Cassidy Gifford) breaks up with Josh because he's defending his beliefs because it will affect his grade and as a result affect her future that she wanted to spend with him.
If that wasn't bad enough, that leads to a level of hypocrisy that comes into play the last third of the movie. The ending of Josh's defense is that we are supposed to make up out own mind about whether or not God exists, after having it hammered into our heads with propaganda that anyone who doesn't believe in God is a mean- spirited, awful person.
Even if you managed to ignore those aspects of the film, it still fails based on its other film elements. The characters are already very black and white in terms of whether they are good or bad and why they are (atheist or Christian), but it goes beyond that. As a drama, none of the characters are complex. They are just stereotypes. Josh is the Christian fighting for his beliefs to be heard. Radisson is the close-minded atheist. Mark is a selfish businessman. Reverend Jude (Benjamin A. Onyango) is the reverend who does nothing but talks about faith. In a movie like "Jurassic World", I can forgive the stereotyped characters because it's not supposed to be deep, but for a drama like this that's supposedly trying to raise some sort of point, it's not okay.
At the end of the movie, Radisson is hit and fatally wounded by a car and is comforted as he dies by Reverends Dave (David A.R. White) and Jude who turn him to God in his final moments. While that's happening, a Christian rock concert is happening in town and everyone in the audience is asked to text out "God's Not Dead" to everyone in their contacts. Radisson gets a text from someone at the concert saying that and the reverends read it, with Jude proclaiming, "What happened here tonight is a cause for celebration." Didn't a guy just get hit by a car and die? That is just one example of the awful writing this movie contains.
While the movie does contain some unintentionally hilarious moments to it, it isn't funny enough of the time to save it as a so bad it's good movie. Had the movie not been so one-sided and hypocritical, the character and writing flaws would be almost forgivable in the grand scheme of things, but it doesn't do that. Instead, this movie takes the easy route to make its point by forcing propaganda down our throats.
Inside Out (2015)
After seeing the trailer for "Inside Out", I was pretty keen to see it. The movie looked like it had a lot of good ideas and all of the people working on the project who I knew about I like. This should have been a great movie experience for me, but instead, it was a disappointment.
After moving from Minnesota to San Francisco, eleven-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) has to adjust to a new life with the help of her emotions, Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). When Joy and Sadness are accidentally purged from the control tower along with Riley's core memories, which make Riley Riley, the two have to find their way back. As Joy and Sadness try to do that, Fear, Anger, and Disgust are the only emotions Riley has left to control her.
In their journeys through Riley's brain back to headquarters, Joy and Sadness come across Riley's imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind), who helps them find their way through Riley's brain. Bing Bong was not introduced at any point before his reveal, so he just shows up out of nowhere without any buildup or previous mention. Then, he becomes one of the most important characters of the whole movie.
When it comes to the characters, most of them are understandably defined to one personality trait (happy, sad, scared, angry, etc.), but even the characters that aren't emotions don't have much personality to them. Riley has (as stated by the movie) five things that make her who she is, and the only one that really adds any personality is goof ball. Her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) are blank slates, their emotions are blank slates who somehow don't even show their one emotion, and even Bing Bong lacks any real personality.
Along with that, Joy's character arc makes little sense. She learns of Sadness's importance to Riley, but for all we know, Sadness has only done one thing right that helped Riley while Joy and the other three emotions controlling her seemed to be working for the most part. There was no lesson that really needed to be learned from the get-go of the story, because Sadness was only needed to solve the problem that she started in the first place.
The story elements are a lot of the same things over and over again. Joy, Sadness, and Bing Bong try to get to the control center, but each time, their method of getting their is destroyed by the accidentally and unknowingly by an emotion or an exterior event, like Riley sleeping or the brain workers outside of abstract thought. Then, they have to try and find a way to start everything up again or find a new way to Riley's brain. It just goes on like that for an hour and thirty minutes.
Granted, there were some creative elements to the movie and some genuinely funny and emotional moments, but they were overshadowed by the larger problems the movie had. I'd say this is the worst Pixar movie I have seen, even worse than "Cars", and a great disappointment.
I thought it was going to be bad. It was much worse.
I had no intention of watching "Unfriended" when I first saw the trailer for it maybe a month before its release. It looked like your run of the mill horror movie that was just going to be infested with jump scares. When I checked Rotten Tomatoes the day before its release and saw it had an 85% approval rating (that has since dropped for good reason), I decided to watch it to see if I had gotten the wrong impression from the trailer. As it turns out, I did get the wrong impression. It was much worse than I thought it was going to be.
On the one year anniversary--I know, they actually did that--of the suicide of their classmate Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman), six friends find their web chat haunted by Laura's spirit, trying to find out who posted an embarrassing video of her that resulted in her killing herself. As the night progresses, she begins to expose the friends' secrets and kills them off in an attempt to get the person who posted the video to confess.
Laura's ghost's plan makes no sense whatsoever. So, she wants to figure out who posted the video of her, but at the end of the movie she knew who did it the whole time. So, the ghost knew who was responsible, so it decided to punish all of that person's friends. All the ghost needed to do was post the video that revealed Blair (Shelley Henig) as the one who posted the video at the beginning of the movie, but if the ghost was actually smart then there wouldn't be a movie.
The actions of Blair's "character" make no sense, either. She was apparently friends with Laura and for no reason I can think of, decided to post the video of her online. Then, when Laura begins haunting them, she begins to freak out and confesses that she and her friends sent some mean comments to Laura along with other people at their school (whom Laura decided didn't deserve to die for some reason even though she killed five people who only sent messages and didn't post the video, which a lot of other people did), but won't confess to posting the video even though she believes confessing to the ghost will stop it from killing them. Instead, she sells out her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm) and lies, saying he posted the video. So, now she is willing to sell out her friends to survive when that wasn't part of her character earlier.
The characters are all blank slates. They have no characteristic that sets them apart, nor do they even have the cliché title that horror movies use for characters like the jock or the pothead. None of them have anything to separate themselves from each other, and yet we're supposed to not want them to die. The only character they give something to is Ken (Jacob Wysocki), who is supposed to be a technical guy, but other than send all of his friends a software in an attempt to get rid of Laura's chat account from their computers, everything else technical he does is nothing that would set him apart as the technical guy in his friend group.
This is the first movie I've ever seen where you can actually see the movie moving slowly and being boring. As there is a clock at the top of the computer screen, you can use that to see how much time has passed. I looked at it time and time again while watching this, and five actual minutes felt like twenty.
This movie had no idea what it was doing. It threw in six blank, uninteresting characters into a boring setting with boring dialogue. So much of the movie was just boring. The characters made no sense, the plot made no sense; it was all just a mess.
Gone Girl (2014)
Quite possibly Fincher's best
"Gone Girl" is director David Fincher's tenth movie and his fifth that I've seen and dare I say it might be Fincher's best film. The movie is not just an intricate mystery thriller film, but it has interesting, realistic characters, a well thought-out story, and a well done undertone theme about public perception.
The best part of the film are the characters of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) Dunne. Amy has faked her death and left an awful story behind that paints Nick as a villain. What did Nick do? In most films, Nick would have been an innocent guy who was just with a crazy girl, but not this movie. While a lot of the stuff Amy said about Nick was a lie, he was cheating on her, which set off her intricate revenge plot. The movie is not asking you to like or even sympathize with one or the other. It's just asking you to understand them. Nick started to have an affair after he felt like he and Amy weren't working out, which led Amy to her revenge scheme.
The movie's thematic undertone dealing with public perception had two different levels to it, one level being in terms of the movie and the other being in terms of the cast. The movie is about the disappearance of Amy Dunne and the investigation that ensues. During this time, Amy, who's undeniably in the wrong, is painted off as America's sweetheart while her husband Nick, who did do something wrong but doesn't deserve what's happening to him, is turned into the most hated man in the country. But wait, it goes farther than that. At one point, a journalist asks Nick to smile for a picture, which he does so and immediately earns backlash for it. Then, when the girl (Emily Ratajkowski) he's cheating on Amy with comes forward, she dresses, as Amy puts it, like a babysitter, to look as innocent as possible.
The idea of public perception and not knowing the full truth is done so even with the cast. Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry, who both do great jobs in the movie, are more well known for comedic work and, this being a serious drama, you'd think they wouldn't be cut out for it. Then, we have Rosamund Pike, who gives the best performance in the whole movie, who is a fairly unknown actress so we don't know what to expect from her. Then, there's Ben Affleck, who is an actor that for reasons I don't understand, people hate. So, there's an actor people seem to really hate being a victim, an actress we know nothing about that the audience figures out what to think about her as the movie progresses, and then there'r Harris and Perry, who are comedians in a drama. All of these people have public perceptions of them that are challenged by this movie.
"Gone Girl" is just another movie that proves David Fincher is a fantastic and talented filmmaker. The movie does not become a jumbled mess even with all of the twists and turns in the script, the acting is all really good, the characters are interesting, and the public perception angle is handled superbly. If you haven't seen it, I would strongly advise you to check out "Gone Girl" immediately.
The best TV show I've ever watched
It's a comedy show that takes place in a hospital. You'd think a show like that would never work, but "Scrubs" pulls it off.
The first eight seasons of "Scrubs" follows John 'J.D' Dorian (Zach Braff) in his experiences of working at a hospital, starting out as an intern and working his way up to a residency. Along with J.D is his best friend Dr. Christopher Turk (Donald Faison), his friend/on again off again and later wife Dr. Elliot Reid (Sarah Chalke), Turk's wife Nurse Carla Espinosa (Judy Reyes), J.D's mentor Dr. Perry Cox (John C. McGinley), Chief of Medicine Dr. Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins), and J.D's tormentor the Janitor (Neil Flynn).
The most surprising thing about this show is how seamlessly it transfers from comedy to drama without it seeming forced. A great episode, "My Lunch", features a comical subplot involving one of the surgeons, The Todd (Robert Maschio), which concludes on punchline and then dives right into the dramatic and somber finale without coming across as awkward. I think it manages to do this because as a comedy set in a hospital, the audience is aware that there will be times when the show will have to have its somber endings.
While it taking place in a hospital is definitely a reason that the comedy to drama aspect works so much, saying that's the whole reason would undermine all of the great writers that have worked on the show. The writing staff was not only good at comedic writing, but they were also good at dramatic writing. When it comes to comedy shows trying to dramatic, you usually feel like that show's writers are only prepared for comedy and don't know how to do drama, but the writers on "Scrubs" do.
Thanks to the writing and the great work of the cast, "Scrubs" ends up having some very memorable characters. The two best characters, in my opinion, are Dr. Cox, the confident, somewhat egotistical mentor of J.D who is not only versed with loads of medical knowledge to help the doctors who look up to him, but is always quick on his feet with a rant that is hilarious to us and mean-spirited to J.D and his friends who he claims annoy him on a daily basis, and the Janitor, an eccentric trickster who is always looking for new ways to mess with J.D and any of the other characters from time to time.
Even Season 9, which pushes the original cast aside in favor of new ones was good. While the characters were not as great as they were before, especially lacking in terms of a protagonist Lucy Bennett (Kerry Bishe), it still had some good episodes and some great moments just like the older episodes did.
While the quality of the show did begin to decline with the start of Season 9, there was never a time during "Scrubs" where it was just a series of bad episodes one after the other. Granted, there were a few mediocre and bad episodes, all shows have that, but considering the ratio of bad episodes to great and outstanding episodes, you can easily overlook those lacking episodes.
I'd like to end my review with the recommendation that if you haven't watched "Scrubs", do it. Immediately.
Has so little to it
I've wanted to write a review of this movie for a while, but since the movie had so little to offer, I didn't really know how I could write one. Now, I've come to realize that if this movie barely had anything, than that's what my review could be: a short review of what was wrong with this movie.
Right off the bat, the screen is filled with extremely ugly visual effects, which is one of only two things the movie offers. The movie tries so hard to make these visuals look abstract or artistic, but they come off looking ridiculous and stupid. The only other thing the movie has to offer are artistic action sequences, which, while entertaining the first time you see them, get boring by the end. So, the two things the movie has going for it are artistic visuals and battle sequences, which are both shown within the first half of the movie so the second half is completely boring because you've seen everything the movie has to offer.
Now, a lot of movies show the majority of what they have to offer in the first half of the movie, but those movies still have an engaging story and characters to be invested in throughout the film. The only character you'll remember by the end of this movie is King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), which is only because of his famous line, "This is Sparta!" before kicking an enemy messenger into a pit.
What about the story? Three hundred Spartan warriors led by Leonidas go off to fight an invading Persian army. The entire movie is just them getting ready to fight and fighting. That's all there is to the story, which isn't interesting, which is mixed with uninteresting characters, so what's there to like about this movie?
There is almost nothing to this movie. It's a bunch of special effects and artistic action sequences thrown onto a screen for two hours with nothing to engage you.
The Descent (2005)
I really wanted to like this one
"The Descent" is a horror movie I really wanted to like. I heard all of this great stuff about it, including many people, average Joes and critics alike calling it one of the best horror movies of the 21st Century. After watching it, I have to ask myself if I missed something or if everyone else was looking at things that weren't there.
Even though this film is getting such a low grade from me, I'm not angry that I spent time watching a movie I ended up disliking. All of the lead actresses were good and I can't fault director and writer Neil Marshall that much, either. While I think the movie had some pretty big story and character flaws, I get the feeling that Marshall had great pride in what he was doing and a great idea and just miscalculated because, as far as I can tell, his directing and writing isn't bad.
You also can't fault the cinematography or the set design for this movie. Before entering the cave, the audience is treated to some wide shots of the forest and open areas. When the six girls enter the cavern, the camera is pressed up close to their face, giving off a sense of claustrophobia, especially when compared to the wide open shots we'd seen earlier. The sets are also believable as a real cavern while the darkness helps play to the horror element by allowing the only light to come from the girls' headlamps, glow sticks, flares, etc.
While I did have some positive things to say about the movie, I feel that they are somewhat superficial when compared to the problems I found with the movie. Let's start at the way beginning with the death of Sarah's (Shauna Macdonald) husband (Oliver Milburn) and daughter (Molly Kayll). From that opening, you'd think it'd have some effect on the story or characters. Not really. Sarah sees glimpses of her daughter in the cave and hears her laughter at one point, but that's not even three minutes worth of footage. Allof that could have been cut out, take out the opening with the car crash, and you'd still have the same movie. The only thing you'd have to change is a few lines of dialogue and take out a few scenes. For what is one of the most important scenes in the movie, it really doesn't do much in the grand scheme of things.
Next off, these characters are interchangeable. Granted, Juno (Natalie Mendoza) has some amount of character, but the others are flat and lack personality. Considering the story revolves around these six characters trying to escape from an undiscovered cavern while there's no help on its way, you'd think there should be something to make you care about the characters. Granted, there's about a five minute scene introducing (if that's what you'd call it) the six girls who will be on the spelunking trip, but not much is established during that part. Once they enter the cave, it's six boring characters with no personality trying to escape. I understand we're supposed to want them to escape because they're the characters we're following, but it's very hard to care about their outcome when they don't have anything that sets them apart or makes them interesting.
My last major gripe is with how the horror element works in this movie. I already said above that the close camera shots on the characters while they're in the cave gives off a sense of claustrophobia which can make us feel uncomfortable, that's about it. The movie starts off by suggesting some sort of psychological horror story due to the death of Sarah's family. Then, when the characters get stuck in the cave in, it becomes a survival movie with the characters in a claustrophobic environment. Then, it becomes a creature feature complete with characters running around the caverns and fighting small Gollum from "The Lord of the Rings"- esque creatures with their climbing equipment. The movie feels like it doesn't know what kind of horror movie it wants to be. Granted, it could be all three if it pulled it off, but it doesn't. The psychological family angle is only present for about five minutes of screen time, and the second we're introduced to the creatures, the cavern opens up to be large enough for out heroes to dash around and fight monsters, getting rid of the sense of claustrophobia.
I can see why this movie got the level of appraise that it did and I do think there were some good ideas and talented people attached to it, but I think it was lacking in a lot of places. I will end this by saying while I didn't like "The Descent", it's movie I wish I had liked and I might revisit someday to see if my view on it has changed.