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Rating scale: < 6= rental. 6=theatre worthy. 7=must see. 8=movie of year candidate. 9=movie of decade candidate. 10=all time best.
Realistically, my scale probably starts at 5 and ends at 8. You have to be a REALLY bad or good movie to get a rating lower than 5 or higher than 8.
Black Panther (2018)
It's a pretty good movie but not nearly on par with the original Avengers or Civil War for the best MCU movie. If I were to compare this to another MCU movie I guess it would be Thor. Both T'Challa and Thor are the heir apparent to their kingdoms and must challenger to the throne. However, whereas you could sympathize with Loki's jealously of Thor, the level of hostility that Killmonger has towards T'Challa never seemed appropriate to me. Nor did I totally accept the circumstances surrounding T'Chaka's little secret.
While the film may be worth seeing just to get a better view of the 'black' perspective of the world we live in, these small story details really dragged the movie down a bit for me. I really wished they spent more time with Killmonger's background as he had the potential to provide the most complex character/villain in the MCU universe. But instead we're left with just another standard villain who is overcome with rage and just wants to kill everyone.
Into the Woods (2014)
Disclaimer: I didn't know this film was based off a Brothers Grimm fairytale/musical. Most of us know Disney and Grimm both have very different styles that appeal to their respective fans. Which makes me wonder: what possessed the folks at Disney to attempt to turn this musical into a movie? The results are nothing short of disastrous. While I understand the moral fiber of the USA is changing dramatically, we (or should I say 'I') still expect a certain wholesome quality from Disney. But when you start having infidelity, stealing and murder being portrayed as morally justifiable in a Disney film it just starts to make you wonder what the Disney brand stands for nowadays. Leave this film alone and see the new live action Cinderella instead.
Utopia or Dystopia?
After reading the Wired article about how this film aimed to break the current Hollywood trend of Dystopian futures, I was really looking forward to this film expecting a breath of fresh air. What I got was more like a warm breeze. I still ultimately enjoyed the message the movie tries to convey - specifically Hugh Laurie's little diatribe during the climax of the film. But that wasn't enough to redeem an ultimately disappointing film.
There are little things that seemed really out of place, like the Terminator copycat scene where Athena chases after a car and causes you to laugh out loud for the wrong reasons. Also, a little background as to why these robots are so willing to kill innocent humans would be nice. Where this movie really struggles though is the the dialogue. It is horrendous and reaches a peak when Athena and Casey first meet - their entire conversation amounts to a scripted Q&A session with no natural flow whatsoever.
Not a terrible way to spend a rainy afternoon, but there are probably better choices out there for the family to see.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Follows in Man of Steel's footsteps
Fairly disappointed in this film. So many unanswered questions from previous Avengers films...
1. How is Thor on Earth when Loki is now ruling Asgard?
2. Why would Thanos knowingly give up an Infinity Stone in Avengers 1?
3. Didn't Tony Stark retire as Iron Man?
The first film succeeded, partially, because it didn't take itself too seriously and found the right balance. This second act seemed to go out of its way to insult itself. The scene where Hawkeye describes how ridiculous it is that he fights with a bow and arrow to Scarlett Witch is a good example of this.
What bothered me the most though might've been the decision to give Ultron a sense of humor. Ultron isn't a human psychopath like the Joker. So giving Ulton a personality didn't really make sense to me and really screwed up the tension that should've existed between the Avengers and Ultron. It seemed like the success of Guardians of the Galaxy may have added pressure to infuse more laughs into Age of Ultron than was necessary.
Bottom line: This was just an average action film that fails to distinguish itself. It falls more in line with Man of Steel, complete with excessively long and exhausting action sequences, than the upper tier comic book films such as Avengers 1, Dark Knight, Guardians, etc.
So there are basically 3 Cinderella films now that will be forever referenced: the original animated Cinderella, Ever After and this live action Cinderella. I wasn't a fan of the original animated film when I saw it as a grade school kid but I really enjoyed Ever After when I saw it as a college student. Now, as a grumpy middle aged man, I was reluctant to see another retelling of this classic story. But my wife really wanted to see it, so I gave it a shot. Glad that I did because I believe this Cinderella is the best of them all. This film does an excellent job of blending the realism of Ever After with the fantasy/magic from the animated film. It also truly excels in showing you the depth of the relationships between Cinderella and her parents and the Prince with his father - even thought the on-screen time between the parents and kids is limited. Lily James as Cinderella does an excellent job of showing frustration while maintaining her promise to mom - to be kind to others. In other words, she showed her humanity and wasn't just some sort of animated caricature. It's a shame movies like this don't often win Best Picture or Best Actor/Actress because the acting is that good in this film - all the way around. Go see it, but bring some tissues with you!
Predictable, but well executed
I saw the original when I was about 8 or 9 years old and really liked it. I held off seeing this remake because the remake of Total Recall may have been the worst movie I've seen of the past 10 years. But I thought this remake was pretty good. Whether it's Robocop, A.I, I, Robot, Terminator or the just released Chappie we know how the story will unfold. A machine that must obey it's commands overrides its protocol or learns how to be "human." We all know that and we shouldn't downgrade a movie because we were able to guess the overarching theme or storyline. I really enjoyed the logic Robocop used to solve the crimes in this movie, Robocop's demeanor when he was human and when he was programmed to be more robot like as well as the portrayal of media bias in the film. Overall I thought the film was very engaging and couldn't stop watching.
i need closure
I would say that I appreciated the effort in filming a movie over the course of 12 years, but it actually didn't seem like much effort was taken to create a seamless movie. Sometimes the kids hardly change in appearance and the movie just jumps to another storyline without ever resolving the conflict from the last scene and you're left wondering what the heck just happened. Other times the kids have obviously had a growth spurt and you're stunned because they just shot up 6 inches from one scene to the next - again, with no real resolution from the last storyline. Often times people talk about story arcs, well this movie has 12 beginnings to arcs with no real climax or resolution - with the possible exception of minor storyline involving a worker at a restaurant. In summary, this movie is comprised of 12 loosely coupled scenes being passed around as a movie. You have more continuity watching 12 episodes of Seinfeld than you do with this movie. I really wanted to like the movie because I want more films that try to be different - but this just wasn't my cup of tea.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Perfect Family Film
Considering it took 4 separate films to lay the foundation for the Avengers, what Guardians was able to pull off is quite remarkable. While I thoroughly enjoyed the Avengers what that film lacked was drama - you KNEW the Avengers were going to come out on top. With Guardians, all bets were off because none of the main super heroes are really Marvel mainstays like Iron Man, Hulk, et. al. This lead to a much more suspenseful film.
While the film does an excellent job developing characters that the audience is emotionally invested in where Guardians truly shines is as a comedy. Chris Pratt does a great job being a lovable goofball super hero. Add to all this beautiful visuals - the Nova Corps battle scenes are sensational and you basically have a perfect family film.
I'm a big fan of Nolan ever since Memento, but this movie falls short of the high standards Nolan has set for himself. Black holes play an important role in this movie so be prepared to just nod your head and go along with the "science" being explained. I'm no physicist but I'm pretty sure black holes don't behave the way they are depicted in the film. The climax of the film is where things went downhill for me.
Go to the film for the powerful performances given by the cast. Even if you shake your head at science component of the film there is no denying the emotion of the film and the final frames certainly tug at your heart strings. The visuals are also excellent, but not exceptional. An above average effort but probably Nolan's most "disappointing" film to date.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
I would still say First Class or X2 is the best X-Men movie, but DOFP is probably the most intense X-Men to date. I also would've preferred a total reboot instead of attempting to have any sort of cohesive storyline with the original movies due to X3's debacle, but they managed to make it work. Having said all this, the time traveling element was believable and the acting is top notch.
There are always some inconsistencies with what powers each individual mutant posses and how they deviate from the comic book (e.g. Shadowcat, Mystique) but they didn't bother me that much. My only suggestion would've been to give the Sentinels a more prominent role in the 1970s storyline. Not only would it have been cool to see more Sentinels, it would explain how certain events in the 1970s could've occurred.