Best TV Show That I Just Watched

Best TV Show That I Just Watched
Parks & Recreation

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What I Watched in 2015

Since I am working both jobs between now and the end of the year, this is my final list for the year of 2015. I have not had a chance to see any movies in the past 2 weeks because of working both jobs like crazy, but I will be catching up on some of those in the first week or two of 2016. I will also be catching up on many films that I missed in theaters that are coming out on video in the next month or so, so I will be posting my 'Best of' list just before the Oscars, so that I may also include Oscar nominated films that slipped by me.

So, without further ado, here is my list of everything I saw in 2015:

Previous Years’ films

Grandma’s Boy
The Program
Fire with Fire
Bride Wars
Fame- 2009
Making of Alien 4
Father Hood
Trouble with the Curve
Star Wars

Full ReWatch with others

Cheers Ssn 3
Cheers Ssn 4
Veronica Mars Ssn 1

17 Again
Amazing Spider Man 2
Life Itself
Ghostbusters 2
Lego Movie
John Wick
When the Game Stands Tall
Million Dollar Arm
Alexander and the Terrible Day
About Last Night
Big Hero 6
Guardians of the Galaxy
Annie- 2014
Big Eyes
Into the Storm
Iron Giant
Hot Fuzz- 3x
Commitments- 2x

TV Series

Benson Ssn 1
Benson Ssn 2
Big Bang Theory Ssn 7
Big Bang Theory Ssn 8
Castle Ssn 6
Castle Ssn 7
Charlie’s Angels Ssn 3
CSI Ssn 14
CSI Ssn 15
CSI Cyber Ssn 1
Dallas Ssn 1
Dallas Ssn 2
iZombie Ssn 1
Mentalist Ssn 6
Mentalist Ssn 7
Nashville Ssn 1
Psych Ssn 8
Rizzoli & Isles Ssn 5
Rockford Files Ssn 1
Scrubs ssn 4
Scrubs Ssn 5
Scrubs Ssn 6
Scrubs Ssn 7
Scrubs Ssn 8
Scrubs Ssn 9
Streets of San Francisco Ssn 5
Vegas Sssn 1 V 1
Wings Ssn 1
Wings Ssn 2


American Sniper- 2x
Inherent Vice
Still Alice
Mr. Turner
Two Days One Night

2015 Films

1-Taken 3
2- Woman in Black 2
3- Wedding Ringer- 2x
4- Project Almanac
5- Jupiter Ascending
6- Black Sea
7- Loft
8- Fifty Shades of Grey
9- Hot Tub Time Machine 2
10- McFarland USA
11- Kingsmen- The Secret Service
12- Focus
13- DUFF- 2x
14- Lazarus Effect
15- Chappie
16- Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
17- Unfinished Business
18- Cinderella- 2x
19- Run All Night
20- Last Five Years- 2x
21- Ala Mala- 2x
22- Insurgent
23- It Follows
24- Get Hard
25- Furious 7
26- Woman in Gold
27- Freetown
28- Longest Ride
29- Danny Collins
30- Unfriended- 2x
31- Paul Blart Mall Cop 2
32- Ex Machina
33- Age of Adaline- 2x
34- Monkey kingdom
35- Avengers- Age of Ultron
36- Water Diviner
37- Hot Pursuit
38- Paddington
39- Most Violent Year
40- Spare Parts- 2x
41- Pitch Perfect 2- 3x
42- Mad Max Fury Road
43- Mortdecai
44- Poltergeist
45- Roar
46- The Voices
47- Boy Next Door
48- Cut Bank
49- Aloha
50- Seventh Son
51- Good Kill
52- Tomorrowland
53- San Andreas- 2x
54- Far From the Madding Crowd
55- Spy- 2x
56- Entourage- 2x
57- Jurassic World- 3x
58- Cokeville Miracle
59- Insidious Chapter 3
60- Love & Mercy- 3x
61- Red Army
62- Blackhat
63- Black or White
64- Wild Tales
65- Inside Out
66- Ted 2
67- Dope
68- Max
69- Terminator Genisys
70- Magic Mike XXL
71- Me & Earl & the Dying Girl
72- Kill Me Three Times
73- Minions
74- Gallows
75- Self/Less
76- Ant-Man
77- Trainwreck- 2x
78- Pixels- 2x
79- Mr. Holmes
80- Southpaw
81- Paper Towns
82- Blindsided
83- Vacation
84- Mission Impossible- Rogue Nation
85- Batkid Begins
86- Amy
87- Fantastic Four
88- The Gift- 2x
89- Ricki & the Flash
90- Irrational Man
91- Shaun the Sheep
92- Straight Outta Compton
93- Once I Was a Beehive- 2x
94- Vatican Tapes
95- American Ultra
96- No Escape
97- Hitman- Agent 47
98- Man From U.N.C.L.E.
99- We Are Your Friends
100- Walk in the Woods
101- Burying the Ex
102- Cake
103- The Visit
104- The D Train
105- Transporter Refueled
106- True Story
107- Maze Runner- Scorch Trials
108- Barely Lethal
109- Meru
110- Everest
111- Do You Believe?
112- Perfect Guy
113- Captive
114- Martian- 3x
115- The Walk
116- Pan
117- Intern
118- Hotel Transylvania 2
119- 99 Homes
120- Ladrones
121- Goosebumps
122- Crimson Peak
123- Just Let Go
124- Sicario
125- I’ll See You in My Dreams
126- Return to Sender
127- Woodlawn
128- Last Witch Hunter
129- Paranormal Activity- Ghost Dimension
130- Steve Jobs- 2x
131- Jem & the Holograms
132- Rock the Kasbah
133- Scouts Guide to  Zombie Apocalypse
134- Burnt
135- Truth
136- Spectre- 2x
137- Our Brand is Crisis
138- Miss You Already
139- Suffragette
140- When We’re Young
141- Final Girls- 2x
142- She’s Funny That Way
143- Final Girl
144- Bridge of Spies
145- Peanuts Movie
146- My All American
147- Love the Coopers
148- Hunger Games- Mockingjay Part 2
149- Night Before
150- Secret in Their Eyes
151- Spotlight- 2x
152- Creed
153- Electric Boogaloo- Story of Cannon
154- Good Dinosaur
155- Victor Frankenstein
156- The 33
157- Brooklyn- 2x
158- Krampus
159- Trumbo
160- Christmas Eve
161- Cooties
162- Stanford Prison Experiment
163- In the Heart of the Sea
164- Mississippi Grind
165- Room
166- Star Wars- Force Awakens

Missed in Theaters

Romance in the Outfield
Child 44
War Room
Mistress America
Sinister 2
90 Minutes in heaven
Learning to Drive
Pawn Sacrifice
Green Inferno
Black Mass

To  See in Theaters

Alvin & Chipmunks
Big Short
Point Break
Daddy’s Home
Hateful Eight
Danish Girl

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Top Films of 2014 #16- 1

16- Imitation Game

15- Lego Movie

14- Gone Girl

13- Guardians of the Galaxy

12- 22 Jump Street

11- Fault in Our Stars

10- Veronica Mars

9- Raid 2

8- Edge of Tomorrow

7- Captain America- Winter Soldier

6- Theory of Everything

5- Whiplash

4- Chef

3- Begin Again

2- Life Itself

1- How to Train Your Dragon 2

Great Films, but Missing That Extra Little Thing- #32- 17

32- Still Alice

31- Nightcrawler

30- John Wick

29- Big Hero 6

28- The Drop

27- Kill the Messenger

26- Most Wanted Man

25- Walk Among the Tombstones

24- Foxcather

23- Oculus

22- Babbadook

21- X-Men Days of Future Past

20- Big Eyes

19- This is Where I Leave You

18- American Sniper

17- Boyhood

Good For What They Were, but Better Than Expected- #80- 33

80- Million Dollar Arm- While I enjoyed this film quite a bit while watching it and I have recommended it many times,, it just felt a little blah at the same time. The acting is great, with Jon hamm, lake Bell, and Alan Arkin, and the Indian actors are a joy to watch, but, again, even though this is a true story, it is still a very cliched version of the way to tell it. There is the businessman who takes a last chance effort to make his business succeed. It works for a while, but everything hinges on these people from a different culture who he brings to the US and they have the predictable fish-out-of-water-experience. There is failure, they teach him what life is truly about, they get one last shot and, success and he turns his life around because of their influence. While admittedly rousing and fun, it also is way too long, and not quite as interesting as it thinks it is.

79- Muppets Most Wanted- The music was nowhere near as good as the last one, although it is still fun enough, the story seems much more slapdash without the heart of the best Muppet films (and also has a feeling of Great Muppet Caper reboot), but this is still an entertaining fun time with the felt fiends. It still gets good mileage out of a bunch of silly gags and I loved Tina Fey overplaying it as the Warden of a gulag. And Danny Trejo because, you know, why not? I realize that this is just a feeling of whining of ‘it’s not as good as the last one’, but, I also don’t see this holding up through the years as well as some of the others, either.

78- Maze Runner- I saw this in Dolby Atmos and, as the walls moved and changed, the theater rumbled and came alive. I was really into the plot and intrigued as to where it was going and what this island was and how they were going to escape…. And then the last ten minutes came, and I just didn’t care anymore. It took the generic, dystopian-future-kids-are-being-tested storyline instead of going with something more interesting and thinking outside of the box. It became what it hadn’t been until that point and my interest level bottomed out. Am I going to see the sequel? Yes, because it’s a movie, but even the sequel seems by the numbers and as uninteresting as it can get.

77-Inherent Vice

76- Top Five

75- Exodus: Gods and Kings

74- Mr. Peabody & Sherman

73- As Above So Below

72- Cantinflas

71- Stalingrad

70- Paranormal Activity- Marked Ones

69- Robocop

68- 13 Sins

67- November Man

66- Deliver Us From Evil

65- Two Days One Night

64- Selma

63- Neighbors

62- Book Of Life

61- St. Vincent

60- Heaven is for Real

59- Godzilla

58- Snowpiercer

57- Ida

56- Horrible Bosses 2

55- Laggies

54- Bad Words

53- About Last Night

52- Mas Negro Que La Noche

51- Non Stop

50- Equalizer

49- Wild

48- Gambler

47- Belle

46- Birdman

45- Boxtrolls

44- When the Game Stands Tall

43- Interstellar

42- Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit

41- Hector & the Search for Happiness

40- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

39- Draft Day

38- Meet the Mormons

37- Into the Woods

36- Mom's Night Out

35- Vampire Academy

34- 50 to 1

33- Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Monday, August 31, 2015

Pure Entertainment #89- #81

Pure Entertainment-   These are films which are exactly what they want to be- and they don't really want to be anything more than just pure fun- whatever that may be- in their chosen genre.

89- Pompeii- The first hour of this is pretty preposterous- it is extremely hammy and over-the-top. And not just from Keifer Sutherland. Yet, once the titular volcano erupts, I mostly forgot about the rest of the film and enjoyed the destruction a lot. When you see a movie called Pompeii, you are not watching it for plot. Same as Titanic.

88- Expendables 3- Lots of actors. lots of action. Utterly ridiculous and stupid. But very entertaining. Is it because of nostalgia? Probably. But who cares? It is what it is- a third Expendables film!

87- Raze- an underground group kidnaps women and makes them fight to the death. There are a bunch of semi-recognizable actresses in the mix (Rachel Nichols and Tracie Thoms) but also some female stunt women (Zoe Bell) Very impressive film since you can tell that most of the actresses are doing their own stunts, but script-wise and character-wise, a chore to sit through.

86- Hercules- This is the one with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. It bothers me that we had 2 Hercules films in one year and never told a version of the story with the 12 tests of Hercules. But, for what its worth, this was much better than the other one. The problem is that this still isnt very interesting but it had a couple of fun action sequences and everyone knew what kind of film they were in.

85-Step Up- All In- It's a movie about a bunch of dance "crews" facing off in Vegas for a starring role ina  Vegas show. That's most of the plot- except for various random characters having various random issues to create dramatic "tension". But, the dancing was a lot of fun and very good. The camera did not move too much and the editing was not overdone so that you could actually see what the dancers were doing. The dancing was good but everything else was as trite as could be. But, what else are you expecting? The carnival dance sequence was fun, but kind've came out of nowhere.

84- Into the Storm- A found footage storm movie in Dolby Atmos? Okay! The characters are never more than just thinly scripted cariactures but the storm scenes look very good for the massively low budget they had. I think it still creates a nice sense of tension, but it is not really a great film, but it delvers in the storm scenes.

83- 3 days to Kill- Kevin Costner plays a CIA hitman with terminal cancer who has an estranged wife and teenaged daughter who tries to retir but is brought back in to find a suspected terrorist and, for coming back is injected with a trial serum that may cure his cancer but incapacitates him at the worst moments. Did I mention hi young, blonde female handler? And the driver who Costner gets family advice from? or the immigrants who have moved into Costner's apartment for the winter and that Costner can't kick out because one of the daughters is pregnant? And that it takes place in Paris? There is almost 3 entire films crammed into this film and I almost can't believe this film exists- but it does. It is ridiculous and stupid but also a lot of fun- until the end sets up a lot of problems and only resolves a few of them.

82- Need for Speed- This film is almost literally 3 films in one! The first 40 minutes or so follows a street racer and his brother and another racer who build a superfast car. And for building the car, they get to race really expensive cars but the other racer accidentally creates an accident that kills the brother and leaves no trace of the accident and the other brother is put in prison. The next hour follows the brother, after getting out of prison, travelling across the country to go to a special race created by Michael Keaton a s aman who can see everything in some way. The last 30 minutes is the actual race. This film is waaaay too long, plot threads pop up and are quickly dismissed. Characters come and go. It is a wild, uneven mess. But I had a blast while watching it!

81- Lucy- Scarlett Johanssen becomes a computer! No, really! Because obviously that is what should happen when you are able to use all of your brain. It makes no sense! But this is a wild, fun ride directed by Luc Besson. I cannot in any way stand behind this film, which is interspersed with a ton of stock footage, but I really, really enjoyed this film and had a lot of fun!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Good Tries- #135-90

Some of these films have a great idea that loses steam by the end. Others  have an awful idea that is helped way more by its cast than it should be. Others can't quite overcome issues with their scripts. These are all films that have more than one or two things to recommend them, but there are usually one or two issues with them as well, so they are not quite disappointments, but they do not work as a whole.

135- Mr. Turner- While this received several well- deserved Oscar nominations for Production Design, Costuming, and Cinematography (and one undeserved nomination for Score)- this film can be summed up like this- I'ma  jerk, nobody really likes me, I'm a jerk, but I' love my father, I'm a jerk, now my father dies, I'm a great painter, but I'm a bigger jerk now, and I keep becoming a bigger jerk with my amazing talent and my dad now being dead, I become the biggest jerk, but I'm a great painter, but I'm a jerk. No connection to the characters , insight into the characters, and no reason to like anyone makes this a total misfire.

134- Annie- Why must this be remade? And why, if it is going to be remade, does it have to be changed so thoroughly and only keep certain songs recognizable? By moving the story into the current day, the film turns itself into a pretzel to try to shoehorn in the basic generic plot. Foxx is actually quite good, as is Wallis, and Byrne radiates joy in her side role, but Diaz is miscast (I sense a trend with Diaz the last few years) and the update just doesn't quite take. Charming in fits and spurts, it could have been much worse, which means it also could have been oh, so much better.

133- That Awkward Moment- Do the filmmakers really know what goes into a relationship? As far as that goes and the ins and outs of the dating scene, there is not an ounce of truth or humor in this film. However, the cast (Miles Teller, Zac Efron, Imogen Poots, Michael B Jordan, Mackenzie Davis) gives it their all and creates a sense of camraderie, friendship, and raucous fun, even if their characters really only do things because the script tells them to and not because it is how any actual human being would act or react.

132-Ouija- Another film where characters do things only because the script tells them to- If you think that your friend was killed by an evil spirit that came from a ouija board, why would you get your friends together and try to contact your dead friend and other spirits with the same board? Idiotic. However, some of the cinematography, lighting, and shots capture some very creepy moments that still linger in my head. I have to give it some credit for the mood that it creates.

131- Labor Day- Over a 3 day weekend, an escaped felon takes a woman and her child hostage and the divorced mother falls in love with the felon. This is based on a book and I have to believe that the book creates a more believeable reason for these characters to fall in love. Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin almost make it work, but the central conceit is a little much- especially when a peach pie ties the relationship, and the whole film, together in a very cheesy  and creepy way.

130- Let's Be Cops- Again, the film is stranded by the central conceit. Two guys dress like cops to go to a costume party and then like the feeling of power and authority that it gives them, so they keep dressing in the fake uniforms and going after dangerous criminals. Had this all taken place in one night when they could not get out of the uniforms, were away from their house, etc. this may have worked. But, as the days go by and the threats are worse, the excuses to keep getting back into the uniforms get weaker and weaker until I just did not buy them continuing the charade. Some very funny moments, but the concept wears itself out by the end.

129- Endless Love- A very generic teen romantic drama remake with amazing performances by Bruce Greenwood, Gabrielle Wilde, Joely Richardson, and Robert Patrick. The cast makes the emotion of the story work. I just wish that Alex Pettyfour was not so bland as the "exciting" love interest. This should be much lower on the list, but the cast makes it work much better than they should.

128- Under the Skin- This film is showing up near the top iof many lists, and I understand why. I can see what this film's fans see in it. However, for me, the exact same things that people love in it, is what makes me not feel so great about it. It stars Scarlett Johannsen as an alien who kidnaps men, takes them back to her place where she... does something with them as they sink into an oil slick type pool, never to return. If you want to talk about a mood piece- this is that film. There is not so much plot as there is a feeling and a mood. SJ does a great job at mainly acting with her face and registering the bits of emotion there, but at the end, I just didn't feel anything emotional.

127- Third Person- Paul Haggis wrote and directed this multi character film which stars Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, Maria Bello, Mila Kunis, kim Basinger, Adrian Brody, and James Franco. All of the characters are connected in some way and that way is meant to be a surprise. After figuring out the purpose of the film and its characters, all that was left was the acting, which is quite good, but still, not enough to save this 2 1/2 hour long film from needing more than its main concept to drive the film.

126- Ride Along- Ice Cube and Kevin hart made sparks fly onscreen. Their chemistry is the reason this film works at all. Otherwise, everything else about it, is cliched and a pale rip off of scenes from other films- the most notable being a PG-13 version of the Beverly Hills Cop strip club scene where Eddie Murphy threw off the planned robbery. Had there been anything original, this film could have been tons of fun, as it is, it was funny for a one time viewing.

125- Words and Pictures- Gerard Butler, as a literature teacher, bets Juliette Binoche, playing an art teacher, to an intellectual battle at their school as to which is more important- words or pictures. A very intriguing idea is hamstrung by a generic romantic subplot between the teachers, an over-the-top characterization with Butler as an alcoholic and generally not a very nice man- and nothing more to give its audience. Better as a conversation starter than a film.

124- Son of God- a 2 1/2 theatrical version of the telling of the story of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem using footage from the tv miniseries of The Bible. Exquistely produced, but there is nothing new on display. The stories are told in a fine manner, but nothing special. There is no new way of telling any of the stories or bringing in the characters. It is what it is. Nothing more, nothing less. Unfortunately, it is also very long with no need to be. It feels every one of its minutes as they tick by.

123-Purge- Anarchy- Frank Grillo gives an intriguing performance as a man on a mission during the one night a year where murder is legal. yet, along the way, he stops to help several other stranded survivors who need his help to make it through the night. It is better than the first Purge and creates a more unified premise, but there is nothing interesting that happens with its characters, other than Grillo as Seargeant.

122- Magic in the Moonlight- I will admit right off the bat, that I am not a fan of Woody Allen films. However, I was hoping that Emma Stone and Colin Firth could help this film along. While they did help it along, the premise of the film again was foreshadowed waaaay too far in advance and there was nothing interesting or intriguing in any of the relationships. And Firth wooing Stone was just a little strange.

121- No Good Deed- This is a fine little thriller for its first 45 minutes but then it runs out of places to go and loses steam. Idris Elba escapes from prison and finds his way to Taraji P Henson's home where she is alone with her 2 kids while her husband is on a trip. A fine rainy day watch that will be everywhere on cable over the weekends in 2 years, but not interesting enough on its own merits to make a concerted effort to watch.

120- Dracula Untold- I thought the first 45 minutes of this film were crap, the middle half hour ok, and the last 25 minutes or so were amazing! But, after all was said and done, I would not recommend this film as a whole. Dracula is a misunderstood warrior who gets powers to help those he loves but the power overtakes him and he becomes the monster we know. Had they left in an entire subplot about who the man in the cave actually was and why he offered the power to Dracula, it may have helped the film immensely, but, as it is, it is just okay.

119-Noah- I have to give it to Aranofsky- he tried. There are some interesting thoughts here- the rock monsters being the right size to help Noah build the ark, the wood coming from the Garden of Eden, the acting is fine and well done, but the film does not hang together as a whole and is not religious enough for those wanting a religious story, but too much so for those wanting a purely "fairy tale" version of the story. Along with some strange survivor's guilt sequences nothing can quite save this film as a whole, but, as it is, an extremely interesting misfire.

118- Think Like a Man Too- This is a generic bachelor/ bachelorette party set in Vegas. Will the bride and groom make it to the altar? Will they find things out about themselves and each other that may put their pairing in jeopardy? Yes, of course. But the cast is winning and game for whatever the script throws at them and, sometimes, in this kind of a movie, that is all you need.

117- Tusk- Kevin Smith's second horror film is about a man who is kidnapped and put into a walrus suit by a crazy man living in the depths of Canadian wilderness where no one can hear him scream. Michael parks and Justin Long are great as the main duo as are Haley Joel Osment and Genesis Rodriguez as Long's partner and girlfriend. Johnny Depp is also good in his role, but the scenes with Depp go on far too long and are the most unfocused of the film. The concept of the walrus "suit" is also never fully made clear (to give away more would be to spoil it), so the ending does not hit as hard as it might have otherwise. I liked this film for all of its faults, but for others, it may end up on a worst list.

116-  Giver- The book is amazing and, in the book, they are able to disguise certain things which will become major plot points without any difficulty. However, in turning this book to a movie, things which are hidden on the page become immediately obvious as soon as we are shown the world, and other things which seem to work on the page, once made literal, just seem stupid. I still love the book, and the film is amazingly well produced and acted with Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges in commanding roles, even Taylor Swift is good in a very small, but hugely important role, but this is one book that just should have stayed on the page.

 115-Interview- This is the film that freaked out North Korea? Really? I love the fact that Seth Rogen and Adam Greenberg do not hold back on their comedy. I love that they take insane plots and make them even crazier. No one can say that these guys do not get to put what they want up on the screen. However, for me, their films are all very hit-or-miss with the misses overwhelming the hits. But, when it hits, it hits hard- such as the scene with the tiger. But, when it misses, it zooms by and keeps going. I give it a higher rating than I might simply for the chutzpah that these guys have to make the films they want. In Hollywood, that counts for a lot.

114-Hundred Foot Journey- I am going to be killed for this one almost as much as I am for the ranking of The Hobbit, but I stand by it. This film about an Indian family that opens up an Indian restaraunt across the street from a famed French restaurant in a small town in France has nothing behind it. The old woman (Helen Mirren) who runs the French eatery does not initially get along with the Indian family, but she finds that the son is a great chef in his own right and she takes it upon herself to teach him the French ways of cooking. This is the most amiable film of the year- however, it tries so hard to not be anything more or less than amiable that it gets stuck in one storytelling gear of which it can't escape. The food looks amazing (be ready to eat after watching this film) but I felt nothing for any of the characters or any interest in how it got to where it was going to end, so, therefore, its lower ranking on the list.

113-Unbroken- The story that this tells is amazing. But it only tells half of the story. And it focuses on the torture. This is the true story of an Olympic gold medal runner who goes to WWII, is shot down over the Pacific, survives 47 days in a raft, is then taken to a Japanese POW camp and endures much torture before the end of the war. As far as the movie goes (excepting a paragraph before the end credits- that's the story. It doesn't tell of the toll these events took on him when he got home and how he eventually healed and actually forgave his captors and turned his life around after being ina  massive state of PTSD for many years. So, he survives the torture and apparently Jolie, the director, thinks that the survival is the story. Unfortunately, the film feels more like torture porn than an uplifting story about survival and forgiveness. The movie looks good and is technically well-made but, like most of Jolie's projects, it is all about the suffering and not the hope.

112-Pyramid- This is a found footage horror film about a group of archeologists who find a special pyramid buried in the sand and, in a rush to go inside before they get thrown out of the country during a civil war, they go in and meet up with a still alive and roaming Anubis and his evil meat-seeking jackals. This is actually well-paced with some decent scares, but the darkness and the found footage  tend to make this way too dark of a film, especially near the end, and the effects are not very convincing. Fine performances from Denis O'Hare and Ashley hinshaw, though, who give this movie more than they probably should.

111- Good Lie- This tells the story of a group of young adults from Sudan who get seperated from their family and friends when they get a chance to relocate to the US. While nowhere near as manipulative as it could have been, it still hammers you over the head with its message and there are a few too many "fish out of water" sequences where we laugh at, not with, the misplaced youths. The actors all do their jobs well, especially the Sudanese who are actually either from the area or 1st generation US Citizens, along with Reese Witherspoon and Corey Stoll.

110- Get On Up- The story of James Brown, the hardest working man in show business- and the title could also go for Chadwick Boseman, who plays Brown and who also did a great job as Jackie Robinson last year. Boseman gives an amazing performance as Brown and it is sometimes like you are watching the Godfather of Soul himself. However, the estate would not let Boseman sing, so the actual tracks of Brown are used and the lip syncing is obvious. The story is all over the place and told in such random snippets that, had I not known much about Brown, I may have been lost wondering what happened and when. I would still highly recommend this for Boseman's performance alone, but just be ready for the mess that surrounds him.

109- Blended- The first half hour of this Adam Sandler/ Drew Barrymore film is boring and very unfunny and stretches the audience's patience very thin. By the time the duo and their families reach Africa (which I am not sure where they filmed since we rarely see the actors actually interacting with any scenery) and start working on becoming a "blended" family in the vein of The Bradys, there are some good laughs and some nice heart warming moments, but then the end bogs down again and gets to become tiresome- especially since we all know where this is going. Is it worth seeing? Depends on your level of enjoyment of Sandler and Barrymore- I say yes, but just barely.

108-Saints & Soldiers- The Void- This has the same issues as the other Saints and Soldiers films- it is a little too on-the-nose with its dialogue, a little too obvious with its plotting, and there is almost no suspense, however, the sincerity of the filmmakers comes through and the entire film works because of it. Do not expect great cinema, as I believe the first one was a triumph of low-budget filmmaking, and go for the emotions and you will be satisfied.

107- Best of Me- This Nicholas Sparks movie almost makes it based on the cast alone. Almost. Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden come back to the small town they grew up in for the funeral of a common friend who brought them together originally and rekindle their teenage romance, even though she is married. The casting and chemistry is good and Liane Librato, as the young Monaghan is electric and Gerald McRaney as the common friend is very good as well. But, the movie starts to fall apart the further it goes along (she is upset that her husband has a major drinking problem and she no longer does- please pass the wine in almost every sequence, thank you) and the actual ending is so bad it almost turns the bend and becomes a riot, but as it is, it is just one of the worst endings ever- which is also telegraphed from a mile away. Cast is Fantatic but otherwise, it stumbles severely along the way.

106- If I Stay-  Chloe Grace Moretz proves that she can almost carry a film by herself even with a ludicrous premise, but she can't quite do all the heavy lifting herself and it crumbles underneath her. She plays a senior in high school who has everything going for her until her family gets in a crash and everyone dies except for her, and she is in a coma, and now must decide whether to die and be with her family or live and become an accomplished cellist with a great shot at prestigious college ahead of her and a boyfriend too good to be true. Hmmm- I wonder what she will choose. Moretz is great, as is Mirielle Enos and Joshua Leonard as her parents, but the film never gives us enough reason to truly believe that she may choose death.

105- Life of Crime-  In a low budget film that has a story that is a prequel to Jackie Brown, but with a younger cast, this kidnnapping heist comedy is very reminiscent of Ruthless people (a woman is kidnapped and her husband wants her out of his life anyway so he refuses to pay the ransom. Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, isla Fishcer, Yasmin bey, John hawkes all do their darndest and the story is never boring and amusing at least, but the pace is never quite right for this film to work fully.

104-Homesman- For the first 3/4s of the film, this is a very good western, but then the story takes a  weird turn and it never fully recovers. Hilary Swank plays a pioneer woman who accepts the responsibility of taking 3 "crazy" women back east so that a local pastor can contact their families and get them the help they need. She meets up with Tommy Lee Jones (who also directed) as a scoundrel who agrees to help her in exchange for his life. Again, very well done, but after the story turn, I could never quite get back on its wavelength again.

103- Trials of Cate McCall- I saw this because I will watch Kate Beckinsale in anything and she, and the rest of the cast, including Nick Nolte, was very good, but the script really could not have felt more forced. She is a recovering alcoholic lawyer who is trying to get readmitted to the bar and recover custody of her daughter. She takes on the appeal of a woman who says that she is wrongfully convicted of murder. The melodrama in this film is almost smothering and it feels like the writer felt like she had to pile as much into this woman's life as possible, and it almost became laughable by the end, especially when, with that much happening, there is not enough time spent fleshing out all of the important character threads.

102- Grand Budapest Hotel- This is a Wes Anderson film in which he is screaming "Look at me! Look at me! Look how quirky I am just to be quirky? Ain't I a little devil?" This film is a flashback set in a flashback set in a flashback. Each one has its own theatrical aspect ratio. It randomly switches into stop motion animation. It wants us to feel for the characters, at least a little, yet laugh at them and with them, yet doesn't make any of them really appealing, in my opinion. While the film looks great and the costumes and sets are immaculate, I ended up only laughing a couple of times but not getting into the story at all.

101-Sabotage- Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the leader of an elite DEA team who, after a major bust and millions of dollars goes missing, each starts dying in random ways. Did the team take the money? Is one of their on targeting them? If not, then who and why? Arnold does a great job of playing a not so good guy wjho may have overstepped the boundaries. The film is very dark and gritty and I liked the resolution and the acting. However, it can be felt that there was about a half hour too much trimmed in the editing stage as there are leaps in time and logic and characters that come and go for large sections of the film- telltale marks of a studio taking over the film. I would be willing to hazard a guess and say that if I could see a director's cut, this would be up much higher on the list, but as it is, it sits at number 101.

100- Million Ways to Die in the West- When it is funny, this film is very funny. When it gets to be too crude or when it ambles along in 'genial' territory instead of 'funny', it becomes very lugubrious and needing time cut out. I must admit that I liked this film except for its excesses. I have not liked Charlize Theron this much in a film since Italian Job and Liam Neeson has just the right amount of goofy gravitas in his role, but the film just ambles more than it speeds along, and the pacing kills it.

99-Judge-  Robert Downey Jr goes home after his mom dies and discovers that, on the night after the funeral, his father, a small town judge, may have struck and killed a man who, after he was given a lenient sentence, killed a woman. Was Duvall trying to exact justice? Did Downey Jr make out with a woman who could be his daughter? What mental illness does the brother have that everyone has to keep giving him expository dialogue? How do the home movies really come into the story? (hint- they don't).Duvall, Downey, Vincent D'Onofrio, Dax Shepard, Vera Farmiga are all good in a film that really goes nowhere, bites off a lot more than it can chew, and strives for a bittersweet ending that it hasnt earned. The actors are always worth a watch, but this film is another 2 1/2 hour glacial mess.

98-Jersey Boys- The Broadway play has a pacing that can't be topped. Clint eastwood's first film of 2014 can't top the pacing, makes it a little boring to finally get to the creation of the Four Seasons, cuts many of the songs that helps move the story and plot along in exchange for dialogue sequences. This makes an amazing play into something not bad, necessarily, but lackluster, to say the least.

97- Night at the Museum 3- While the "secret of the tomb" is not much of a secret and the issue is resolved quickly and easily, this is more about visiting some old friends for the (supposedly) last time and enjoying hanging out with them- and for 2 cast members in particular, it will be their last times on the screen. Mickey Rooney has a very small cameo and Robin Williams, as in the other 2, plays Teddy Roosevelt. A nice send off for Williams, a hilarious cameo near the end of the film (with theme music and everything) make this an enjoyable time waster.

96- Bears- Great cinematography and a fun narration by John C Reilly are really the only things to recommend this DisneyNature film. The "story" is not as fascinating as some other documentaries and that makes this 90 minute film feel much longer.

95- Mockingjay Part 1- Although I am ranking this, in my mind I can't really judge this film fully as it is literally, one part of what may be a great film. The ending is not so much an ending as a stopping of the film, a good screenwriter could have easily trimmed this down to about 45 minutes to an hour and there is no reason to drag this story into 2 films. But, what is here is good, it just is not all here.

94- Divergent- Shailene Woodley is great in the role of Tris, but the allegory is a little too thick and the story really makes no sense (you are born into a faction, can choose to go to another faction, unless you're divergent, in which case you have to hide), and the finale seems like a forced climax to the story. The ending is not an ending as much as a franchise builder, but the first hour and a half of this film is very entertaining. It is too bad the film gets weaker as it goes along.

93- Fury-While this is a very well-made World War 2 film following a tank crew. I felt it was too long, and followed too many other war cliches story-wise. The battle scenes are engrossing, but, unfortunately the actors can't rise above the 'been there done that' script.

92- Dolphin Tale 2- I understand what they were trying to do- tell the continuing true story of Winter while also talking about the truths behind the scenes of the actual aquarium and how hard it is to truly care for the animals- especially when you care for the animals. The young leads acquit themselves the best, other than the animals, of course, but the top-line names of Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman feel shoehorned in, and Harry Connick, Jr is given a role that would be tough for many to pull off. The actual scenes of the animals are fantastic and the highlight, but, unfortunately the behind the scenes of the aquarium just don't translate into interesting screen time. It might have been the script or the direction, or both, but it didn't work anywhere near as well as the original.

91- Monuments Men- A fascinating true-life story that doesn't work as a whole the way it should and it also suffers from wildly different tones that don't mesh well together. It tries to be a serious war film, with a lot of comedic scenes, and drama, and action! But MASH, this ain't. It also hurts it that the cast is really only together a few times and then they are separated into different "missions". That may be how it was in real life but in this film, it just doesn't quite get over these 2 major issues. The actors all do their jobs, but, again, it might have been the script or the direction, but for some reason, this just didn't land like it should have given this amazing story!

90- Amazing Spider Man 2- I still absolutely love the chemistry between Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield. I think Sally Field as Aunt May is perfect. I think Andrew Garfield is a really great Peter Parker. Hearing this film in Dolby Atmos was fantastic! The concept of Electro being mad at Spider Man for not remembering him is a little too off for a major villain to me. Bringing in green Goblin at the end to be the catalyst to kill Gwen Stacy was one villain too many, although, if they wanted to bring him in for the final scene for Peter to get his mojo back, I could have been okay with that. But bringing in Paul Giamatti as Rhino was one villain too many (maybe even 2) and it was waaaaay too long and set up too many disparate plot threads that would have needed 5 or 6 more films to sort out or 1 amazingly awful, hastily written one. There was so much good here that just didn't quite come together. It is too bad we will never see what could have been and if they could have gotten it correct the 3rd time.

Monday, January 19, 2015

2014 #164- 136- Good Moments, Good Actors, but major disappointments

164- Devil's Due- This is essentially a found footage version of Rosemary's Baby. The acting is fine but the script and the twists and turns that the plot takes are neither interesting nor well- done or thought-out. The only thing that kept this from being a bottom of the barrel film was that it had a couple of very creepy and indelible images. Otherwise, pure tripe.

163- Believe- This is a film that is based on a true story of a top manager from a British soccer team who, after dropping out of coaching the sport years earlier due to a tragedy, ends up coaching a kids soccer team. My wife will accuse me of putting this film way down on the list because it is about soccer, but that is far from the truth. This film stars Brian Cox and Natascha McElhone who give great performances and do more for this film than they should. The kids are well cast and even exhibit some amazing ball handling skills (they are all part of actual award winning teams). The problem with this film is that the writing, directing, and editing are so poor that the film almost makes no sense. The kids have 4 weeks or so to train and get ready for the match. We get a montage and then they are playing their first match. Then, as the audience, we assume they are shown playing a different game just moments later since the jerseys on the competing team have changes. Is it the same day? A month later? Were games played in between? We don't know. There are moments where the shot lasts much longer than needed and nothing else happens in the frame and you can almost hear the actors asking for the director to yell 'Cut!'. How long ago did the tragedy happen? What causes the coach to decide to come back to coaching? A semi-final game is discussed but never shown. This film is a mess from beginning to end, behind the camera, which is a real shame. The story is intriguing, too bad they can't tell it. This is one of those films that needs to be remade immediately with the same cast but different behind-the-scenes talent. It almost feels as they had only 7 days to film this and they filmed what they could, missed filming a lot of connective scenes, and had to assemble a semi-coherent film in the editing room, which did not work. A real shame.

162- What If- This is a supposed romantic comedy starring Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame) and Zoe Kazan as a couple who meets at a party. He wants to be "more than friends" but she is already in a relationship. This is based on a play and, maybe it plays better on the stage? I doubt it. Both the main characters are insufferably obnoxious (they are written that way- I think Radcliffe and Kazan do what they can), and Adam Driver has some great moments as Radcliffe's friend (brother? I didn't care enough to remember) but it was more boring and insufferable than even bland and forgettable.

161- Skeleton Twins- This is an independent drama that stars comedic duo Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader showing off their acting chops. While they definitely can handle drama, the film and script are awful and have all of the  "Indie Sundance dysfunctional family" tropes without feeling like actual people or situations. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader are brother and sister who have not seen  each other in many years. They both attempt suicide on the same day. Hader ends up in the hospital and Wiig picks him up and invites him to live with her and her fiancee for a while until he can get back on his feet. Wiig's character is depressed because of reasons and Hader is gay, has nothing to live for, and has a big hidden secret that is dug up once he comes back into town reconnects with an old mentor of his. Luke Wilson is portrayed as an awful man because of... reasons and is openly mocked for trying to give Wiig a life that he feels that she wants. While the acting is all well done, the films tone is all over the place and never gels. The script is also all over the place (after  spending 10 minutes of screentime on a "bonding session" between the siblings at Wiig's job as a dental hygenist, the next day, Hader calls Wiig a bored housewife who has nothing to do- obviously he forgot that she has a job???) and all of the dramatic developments are too choreographed and obvious and the ending is seemingly a happy ending where the siblings have each others backs but they end up being the worst thing that either of them could ever wish for. This is what people think of when they think of bland, uptight, pretentious independent filmmaking. The lip sync to Nothing;s Gonna Stop Us Now is a highlight, however.

160-Rover- Guy Pierce and Robert Pattinson co-star in this variation on 'Of Mice and Men'. It is 10 years after a cataclysmic disaster in Australia. Guy Pierce's car is stolen and he will do anything to get it back. Pattinson plays a dim-witted robber that pairs with Pierce to find his car. While trying to be a slow burn tense thriller, it ends up bein boring, uninteresting and waaaaaay too long for a conclusion that is not interesting or surprising. A different edit of this same film may yield a great film, but this version is just not a good film. Australian outback looks gorgeous, though!

159- I, Frankenstein- The creators of Underworld try to reboot the Frankenstein story by giving it an interesting twist and then it becomes a generic "secret battle of creatures that the human race does not know exist"- except that their battles occur in public, at nighttime, with a lot of yelling, screaming, fire, explosions, and hordes of creatures blocking out the moon. Maybe it is secret since there are no other people on the streets. At All. Ever. A decent concept is marred by generic creature action filmmaking and Aaron Eckhhart, Yvonne Strahovski, and Bill Nighy are stranded in this thriller that does not thrill.

158- Inspired Guns- A Mormon film about missionaries who, due to a mistaken identity plot so obvious that it would make the writers of Three's Company feel embarrassed, are mistaken for hitmen while trying to talk to 2 actual hitmen about The Book of Mormon. It tries to be funny- it's not. It tries to be suspenseful- it's not. It tries to have a feel-good surprise ending- it fails. This is the film that I feared Mobsters & Mormons would be. If looking for a funny, mob themed Mormon film, skip this and rent Mobsters & Mormons instead.

157- Sex Tape- Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel sleepwalk through this comedy, forgetting to be amusing. The plot makes no sense and, even if you turn your brain off and go with the plot, they literally do almost nothing with it! They pretty much forget what they are trying to do! Rob Lowe has an amazingly hilarious co-starring role and Ellie Kemper and Rob Corddry are funny but given very little to do in this misfire. A comedy should be funny. This is not.

156-Tammy- Just like Sex Tape, this comedy forgets to be funny or do anything interesting with its characters. I like Melissa McCarthy a lot. Susan sarandon is a great actress, but they are both stranded in this lifeless script that is neither funny nor dramatic. It tries to show, I think, that a cross-country dual generational road trip starring women can be just as tasteless and unfunny as similar films starring talented men (such as Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifinakis in Due Date). If that was the goal, they succeeded.

155- Maleficent-  I know that many people love this film, but I just couldn't get on board. The cutting of the wings started the film with a whole rape-y vibe to me. Then, characters do things only because the script tells them to and not because a character would actually choose to do those things (I am the king and I love my daughter so much that I am going to give her to these fairies that I only met a few moments ago that I know nothing about and let them take my daughter to the area where the witch lives). I am also glad that metal hurts Maleficent so much that it weakens her to the point where she can't use her magic as a method of escape (oh, wait...) When I ask what people liked about this film, I am always told that Angelina Jolie was amazing in the scene wher e she curses the child- of course she is! She did exactly what was done 75 years ago in the animated film! This was a movie made to make money with no thought to plot or characters at all- and it made tons of it! Mark my words- in 10 years, very few people will think of this as a great film, as many people are stating that it is this tear.

154- Transformers- Age of Extinction-  And speaking of films made just for the sole purpose of making money and not for any point of telling a story... I walked into this with a very open mind, wiping clean my hatred of the previous 3 Transformers films and viewing it as a brand new film experience. It worked- for the first 45 minuttes. Then, I got numbed to the never ending pointless battles of CGI creatures fighting CGI creatures wuith nothing interesting happening. After I started to roll my eyes and get bored after the opening 45 minutes and looked at my watch and realized that there was still 2 hours of a film almost broke me. In working at the theater, I heard only 2 perople tell me that they liked it, everyone else said that it was boring, awful, bad, terrible, and yet everyone paid money to see it. I do not understand how this makes $245 million and Edge of Tomorrow only made $105 million. My suspicions have been confirmed by my wife- who loves the Transformers films- who watched the first hour and forty five minutes, turned it off and a few days later forgot that she had not actually finished the film. I must say, though, this was the best Dolby Atmos mix that I have ever heard!

153- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- I do not have a horse in this race. I have enjoyed certain TMNT properties (I thought the first film was good and liked the original cartoon series well enough but have not found anything interesting about the Turtles in quite some time). I thought the mountain chase in this film was amazing (however, I know of no mountain like that within an hour's drive of downtown New York- let alone a mountain that has a direct sewer line to downtown New York) but the rest of the film was a bad, bad piece of filmmaking. script, acting, plot, characters, action scenes all were a big zero for me. Without the amazing mountain chase scene (which I almost  think came from a different movie), this could have been in my bottom of the barrel list. However, inexplicably, DVDs and Blu Rays of this film sold faster than any other film in 2014. I weep for the future of humanity....

152- Cesar Chavez- I have to wonder if there is a five hour director's cut of this film somewhere. What is here is very well done, but it seems like the film was edited with a chainsaw and I also wonder if I had no idea about the story of Cesar Chavez if I would have been able to follow the film at all. This film suffers from the same issues as last year's film, Jobs which starred Ashton Kutcher- the acting is top notch and it is well filmed and created but characters walk in and out of the film just for one or two scenes and then are never heard from again. Just as badly edited as #163 Believe, but this has  amuch better and deeper cast, has better cinematography and behind the scenes merits, it just barely skims the surface of the life of Chavez.

151- Transcendence- It says something when an amazing cast (Rebecca Hall, Johnny Depp, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany) can't make the script for the film even intriguing or interesting. It also is a major mistake to show the ending of the film and then go back to show how the characters got to that point. For this film, it wipes out all tension. Very, very bland and uninteresting.

150- Quiet Ones- This horror film has an interesting concept, recording a girl who may be possessed but is undergoing a scientific experiment to try to coax the demon out, but does nothing with it. There is no tension built, no characters are created, no plot to speak of, just a bunch of "jump scares" of really loud sound coming at the audience.

149- Other Woman- Yet another Cameron Diaz "comedy" that gets its laughs mainly from co-star Leslie Mann and a couple of funny line readings by Kate Upton. Again, a great concept (a man's wife and his mistress become friends, find yet another mistress and plot revenge) goes nowhere and the lowest of the low fruit is grabbed for comedic purposes. Women who were looking for a "gilrs' night out'ovie flocked to this film. I am all for female-empowering comedies but I want them to be good.

148-Happy Christmas- It hurts me to put an Anna Kendrick film so far down the list, but the problem is, it just isn't good. Kendrick stars in this film from 'Drinking Buddies' (one of my top films of 2013), director Joe Swanberg that tells the story of a woman who moves in with her brother and his wife temporarily during the holidays so that she can get over her recent break-up. The film is improvised, and it shows. Scenes go nowhere, actors are stranded trying to find something interesting in the concept or scene, and the resolution is a quick "I'm sorry' and... Roll Credits! I should not get bored by an 82 minute film, starring one of my favorite actresses- yet I was.

147- Earth to Echo- A very low-rent 2014 found footage version of ET. I like that the ending is not "happily ever after" and there is one great sequence showing what the little alien can do (the semi truck scene ruined in the trailers) and the acting is good for what it is, but otherwise, there is nothing new in this film. Rewatch ET instead.

146- Dumb & Dumber To- The best joke of the film is in the title. There are a few other random jokes and visual gags which are done subtly and randomly (good luck in recognizing Bill Murray in his cameo) but otherwise this is a lazy, cheap sequel. The girl playing the daughter in the film is a breath of fresh air as she tries to eat her room service meal, and I love Jeff Daniels, but, wow- we waited 20 years for this?

145- And So It Goes- Michael Douglas is a grumpy old widow who must take care of his granddaughter while his son serves out a prison sentence. He lives next door to single Diane Keaton. Might his neighbor and granddaughter soften his heart by the end? What do you think? While it is very nice to see Douglas and Keaton together on screen in a romantic comedy for seniors, I just wish the script were up to snuff and gave these great actors something up to their talents.

144-Before I Go to Sleep- Nicole Kidman's version of Memento! A dramatic version of 50 First Dates! Nicole Kidman wakes up every morning with no memory of anything that happened before. Her husband, Colin Firth, is getting weary of explaining their life and the death of their child to her every day, but, Kidman finds a recorder hidden that may hold the key to the secret of her past. While it is intriguing in fits and starts, the "happy" ending makes no sense and is not in any way happy at all! Maybe the book on which this is based makes more sense, but this is a film that even Kidman and Firth will forget they were ever in within five years!

143- Hobbit- Battle of Five Armies- While this is the best of the 3 Hobbit films, I can't tell if it is because it truly is the best of them or if it is because it is the shortest of the Hobbit films, and has no CGI dishwashing/ singing party. This film again becomes a bunch of CGI creatures fighting a bunch of other CGI creatures, the wizard offers nothing ion the final battle, the title character of The Hobbit is only in the film for maybe 35 to 40 minutes, it all comes down to a bunch of stabbing- even with a very cool almost kill of using weight to topple an ice floe- do I need to continue?. These films were not made for me, I know that, but I am so glad that I no longer see any further trips to Middle Earth in the immediate future.

142- Single Moms Club- A good cast  (including Amy Smart, Nia Long, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Terry Crews) are somehow upstaged by Tyler Perry the actor (first good role of the year) in this Tyler Perry directed film. A group of single moms bond and try to support each other in the day-to-day struggles of being a single mom. Easily my favorite Tyler Perry directed film (but that is very faint praise) this film again gives a "woman empowerment film" that is not that well-made and, for all the talk that these woman are full humans without a male in their lives, by the end iof the film, they are all paired up with males that make them whole again. Talk about a script that doesn't know what it wants to be!

141- Brick Mansions- Paul Walker's final finished film is this remake of the French film District B13 which brought parkour (free running) to the mass pop culture awareness. The original is a great, cheesy, action film that is amazing because the camera pulls back and lets us see the great stunts which are being performed. This version is over directed, way over edited making it impossible to enjoy the stunts for what they are and chopping up a simple story into an almost incoherent mess. There is still some fun to be had, but leave the camera in one spot for longer than 3/4 of a second, please!

140- Annabelle- This quickly and cheaply made "prequel" to last year's fabulous film The Conjuring feels like a quick and cheaply made prequel. It is not particularly bad, but it is not memorable or interesting either. The only thing that truly makes this film creepy at all is the Annabelle doll herself. She is still very creepy!

139- America- Imagine a World Without Her- While I liked this documentary, it sets up a very interesting concept (what if George Washington was killed in battle and America never existed) and then does nothing with that concept and takes on certain complaints that people have about America. It is very right wing leaning, but some great points are made, but it still smacks of preaching to the choir and is nowhere near as interesting as the opening suggests/

138- 300- Rise of an Empire-  Eva Green and Lena Headley are the reasons to see this film. Eva Green goes bat s^^^ crazy in this film and almost single-handedly saves it from being nothing but slow-motion CGI bloodied battles. If this film had no slow motion, it would be at least half an hour shorter. The Dolby Atmos sound was fun but there is nothing here that was not done in the original 300- except for Eva Green's scenery chewing performance.

137- Sin City- A Dame to Kill For-  Speaking of films that have nothing new that was not in their original, and that also star Eva Green in a spectacular scenery chewing performance, Sin City 2 is Exhibit B. While the individual stories are generally interesting, every single one ends not so much with a punch but with a whimper. None of the endings are interesting or do anything with the characters. The visuyal effects are more of the same, so there is nothing to see here that is interesting, inventive, or challenging in any way.

136- Penguins of Madagascar- I know that this is supposed to just be a "kids film" but I demand better entertainment for all the underserved groups of the moviegoing public. The story is uninteresting, the jokes lame, and the animation is fine, but why is this the standard for kids fare? It wasnt badly offensive, but it was quite bland and boring.