Tag: Jennifer Lawrence

mother!

What a month for horror. And to think it is September, not October.

It came out a two weekends ago and is smashing September box office records, which just means that people love being scared by clowns or feel nostalgia from the previous TV adaption.

But then we get mother! just a week later. Which advertising for has been all over the place. One thing for certain, we know it is a Darren Aronofsky film, so we can expecting something fucked up and hard to explain.

Or not?! mother! is getting a wide release and has a huge star attached, maybe this will just be a run of the film horror movie. Schyeah, and maybe David Lynch will make a straightforward film as well.

Wall
And maybe this wall is just a wall and not a metaphor about bees or some shit?

This film is about a woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and a man (Javier Bardem), living in a house in a field on their own. She is slowly rebuilding it after a fire some time in the past, and he is a poet who hasn’t written in awhile. They are both always working and their love is straining, but they are alone and they are alive.

And then a man (Ed Harris) appears at their door. He is old, sickly, and he thought their house was a bed and breakfast. The poet is a generous person and lets him spend the night, despite being a stranger. And the man is sickly and coughs throughout the night, but in the morning he is fine. And also in the morning, his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up at the door. Huh, he didn’t mention anything like that, and now there is two of them. The poet is still generous, and fuck it, who cares what his wife thinks? They can stay too, because they like his work and he likes their approval. But house guests who make themselves at home can be quite annoying.

Especially when their sons (Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson) come over as well, arguing about estate and will disputes, and one son kills the other in their house. Holy shit, these are terrible guests.

Things get worse from there as more and more strangers enter their home, making our “mother” feel more distant from her husband, but that is all just the vaguest details I could get out about this film. Because in reality, it is a lot stranger, darker, and twisted than anyone should expect.

Oh, and of course, Kristen Wiig. Can’t forget about her.

Mob
“And no one is fucking using coasters!”

I wish I could have just sat in the theater after mother! and just reflected on the experience that unfolded in front of my eyes. But it was late and I had to rush home to pass out, needing sleep before work.

Days later when finally writing this review, it is still fresh on my mind. Partially because of the graphic nature and story in a story that it told. And partially because I knew that this film would have a hell of a shit storm from the regular movie going community. This is not the sort of film that should have gotten a wide release and marketed as some sort of home invasion horror. It is an art house film and it is being exposed to people who are going to expect something completely different and be upset about being bamboozled.

Like it or hate it, those are the only two options people will have from this movie. Anyone who said they thought it was okay is probably just lying. Despite its polarizing attributes (Which again, are going to amplify to the negative), people WILL be talking about it and remember it for a long time. That is not always a good thing, because being infamous for being really bad or gross doesn’t make a great film.

But in all honesty, this is a pretty great film. It did incredible things inside of a one location suit. It should make the viewer feel claustrophobic and a whole lot of other emotions. It should leave the viewer thinking and change their perspective on a few things. Or it will just be considered some strange torture snuff shit and have people walk out of it, especially when it ramps up even further near the end.

Good on Jennifer Lawrence for doing a project like this. She breathed hard and panted her face off in this film to make us uncomfortable, and it really worked.

3 out of 4.

Passengers

A lot of hopefuls out there were hoping that Passengers would be our next great Sci-Fi film. There seems to be one every year. Last year we had The Martian, year before that was Interstellar, and before that was Gravity. We’ve consistantly had one amazing one a year that blew the rest behind.

Passengers was certainly the most advertised coming out this year, including a sweet near Christmas release. But it was too slow.

Not only did we have Arrival already this year, which clearly took the title, but we also had Midnight Special, which I think needs to be on its own pedestal as well. That’s right. Two groundbreaking, well done, science fiction films this year. And neither one of them is named Passengers.

Space
“But we are the only one to actually be set in space! Come on, space suits!”

There is a big ship out there, named Avalon, and it is going to Homestead II. And Earth like planet that they are going to start building colonies on, because Earth is super damn crowded. The trip takes 120 years, so everyone aboard the ship is in a hibernation sleep. Five months before they get there, the crew will wake up, and four months before they get there, the 5,000 passengers will wake up. There they can start to mingle, party, hang out, start thinking of ideas, before they land. Good times.

Until it goes through an asteroid field 30 years into the trip, hitting a few big things. And one of the pods stops working, waking up the passenger inside. Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), engineer/mechanic guy, finds himself alone on a giant space station. He has computers to talk to, and a robot bartender named Arthur (Michael Sheen), but that is it. He cannot go back to sleep in the pod, and there is still 90 years left on the voyage. That’s right. He will die on that ship, old and alone, with no one to help hi.

Jim lasts a whole year almost before thinking about killing himself. But then he sees a girl in a pod, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). He falls in love with her, learns everything about her in her profile, and she gives him a reason to go on with his life. And then he does something else. He wakes her up. Sure, he basically condemns her to die also on this ship, but now he has a buddy who will hopefully love him back! Hooray!

Also, problems on the ship still keep happening, Laurence Fisburne is eventually in it, and action, adventure, explosions.

Bar
The finest drink in the entire galaxy.

I think inside of Passengers is an extremely solid film. It could have been a more serious drama, really deal with the ethics of his decision and how it will affect them for the rest of their lives. But Passengers didn’t want to keep it really serious. It wanted to be more romantic and more…action-y.

And the last act really does kill it. If it had none of the explosions, the deftly engineering skills, the potential of self sacrifice, the crying and screaming, it could have been a better film. It instead went a more Summer Blockbuster route and gave us a weaker story. The problem with the more action scenes is that they seemingly came out of nowhere. Oh yes, there were hints, but it jumped from a 2 or 3 to an 11 out of nowhere, just because the plot demanded it. The build up was bizarre, especially because the cause was something that started over two years ago.

You know what though? That still didn’t kill it for me. The ending after all of the action could have still had some really beautiful moments. They even hinted at it. (POTENTIAL SPOILERS). But instead of seeing any of these great growing old scenes, we are instead just transported to when the crew wakes up five months before landing, to see all the changes done to the ship, with a Lawrence voice over explaining it to them. And it just falls so flat.

So the rating here is partially for potential. Pratt and Lawrence aren’t bad, they aren’t just given enough to really work with. There are times when the emotions run real (After the reveal of what Pratt did), but they don’t fully go where they should to make it a very emotionally investing film.

Passengers could have been a crazy third amazing Sci-Fi film of the year, but instead, it just wanted that blockbuster money.

2 out of 4.

X-Men: Apocalypse

Here it folks, the big one. The Apocalypse is coming, despite everything Idris Elba did to cancel it.

The recent strange reboot of the X-Men franchise has been wildly successful. I enjoyed First Class and loved the crap out of Days of Future Past (which made my top of the year list), while also fixing some continuity issues that had been brought up. I used to like X2, but honestly, it hasn’t aged well with me, and I am tired as fuck of the Wolverine origin stories.

As a fan of the X-Men stories, Apocalypse has always felt like their biggest and greatest enemy. He is their Thanos or Darkseid. Not their main enemy, just their biggest threat. So to see it finally come to fruition on the big screen is both exciting and frightening. It is obvious why I am excited, but I am also frightened that I am over hyping the film. Days of Future Past did a lot of things right, so it will be hard for them to live up to that film. There are so many ways for X-Men: Apocalypse to go wrong.

But despite all this, I will do my best to not make fun of the way he looks.

Old
He looks a lot less like Ivan Ooze in the actual film!

Ten years after the events of the last film, the world has changed for Mutants. After Mystique’s (Jennifer Lawrence) speech, mutants are a bit more understood and not completely seen as threats. In America, they can look weird and walk around and most people seem to accept them. It helps that Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has gone into hiding in Poland to live a new life, and Xavier’s (James McAvoy) school is a rousing success!

Until shit starts hitting the fan. Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) discovers cults that are worshipping ancient beings believed to be the first mutants. Sure enough, bad events occur, and En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac) is out and about after being trapped and asleep for almost 5700 years. Go fuck yourself, Rip Van Winkle. What’s an ancient deity gotta do to get some respect around here? Make a new team of individuals to help him gain more powers and enslave the world of course! That is why we get to see new people, like Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Angel (Ben Hardy), and Mowhawk Storm (Alexandra Shipp)!

Ah, the end of the world. The best time to introduce young new guys to the fold too. Like Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclopes (Tye Sheridan) who is of course Havok’s (Lucas Till) brother, Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Jubilee (Lana Condor).

Also returning: Nicholas Hoult as Beast, Evan Peters as Quicksilver, and Josh Helman as Col. William Stryker. And featuring Warren Scherer, Rochelle Okoye, Monique Ganderton, and Fraser Aitcheson as the original four horsemen.

New
Something new, something old (Apocalypse), and a whole lot of somethings blue.

With X-Men: Apocalypse, we now have our third 2.5 hour Superhero film of the year, which must the new normal. Please be different Dr. Strange. The timing felt good for Civil War, but it was too much of a run time for this film. Plenty could have been cut out to give a more straight forward and less clunky film.

Here is the good stuff though! I almost gave this a 3 out of 4, because what worked really worked. There is a scene that actually made me tear up in this film. It was then immediately when extra lives were somehow lost without making a whole lot of sense. I will say that Magneto’s reason for getting involved seem almost completely justifiable, and like normal, Fassbender and McAvoy basically carry the film. Lawrence isn’t bad in her role, although Mystique’s arc seems just a bit weaker. In terms of new characters, Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler does a fascinating job and Turner as Jean Grey grew on me over time. Quicksilver was a lot more involved in the plot and his moments were some of the highlights of the film again. It is great that they made him more integral to the plot and confirmed some of his backstory.

And finally (a vague spoiler) we have a film where characters can actually die from these extremely powerful individuals doing battle. Thank goodness.

For most of the other players, everyone else feels underutilized. Psylocke is only really used in one fight, we get a decent amount of Angel but it isn’t great, and Storm doesn’t have many great moments. And if you were one of the dozens excited to finally get Jubilee in film, then quickly suppress that excitement, because she does diddly squat. And of course we have the wonderful OSCAR ISAAC to play the big bad guy, but for half the film his voice is distorted and there is never really a moment where he can really display any great acting, which makes the casting feel a bit wasteful.

It could have been the 3D and theater settings, but the CGI felt weaker than Days of Future Past. Apparently Apocalypse’s powers involve turning items into sand and sand into items for the most part with the occasional cool purple thing. Add in Magneto’s electric field near the end and we just get a used over and over again ugly look to the whole film.

This movie is not as good as Days of Future Past, and maybe not even as good as First Class. It is still decently enjoyable though, but it features a clunky plot with a lot of underutilized characters. The good news is that for the parts that work, they work really damn well. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy some nice fan service?

2 out of 4.

Joy

I am so full of Happy Happy Joy Joy. After all, it is the Christmas season, and you know what that means?

That’s right! It’s time for a David O. Russell movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

I can’t even remember a time when Christmas was without these two somehow in my life. And for the most part, I have enjoyed it each and every year.

Wait, what’s that? 2014 didn’t give us our JLaw BCoop reunion movie? Oh that’s right. That year was supposed to be Serena. But it got shifted around and wasn’t a good movie. Let’s forget 2014. Those were dark times. Probably because someone other than David tried to use them. That must be it.

Gun
I assumed this was a revenge action flick based on only seeing this picture pre watching.

Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) used to have it all when she was a kid. She had a loving mom (Virginia Madsen), a dad (Robert De Niro), and step or half sister Peggy (Elisabeth Röhm). It might be a step sister, I don’t know. She loved to invent and create and let her mind flow. Then their parents got divorced. She now had a mom who stayed in all day to watch Soap Operas, and her sister went full time with the dad, who she only saw some of the time.

Now she had to take care of her mom and her head can no longer float in the crowds.

Seventeen years after the fact, things were going to change. Yes, she had two kids. Yes, she was divorced with her ex, Tony (Edgar Ramirez) was living in her basement. The only sane one in her life was her grandmother (Diane Ladd) and our lovely narrator! And of course her best friend is still around to help, Jackie (Dascha Polanco).

Let’s cut to the chase. This story is actually about Joy Mangano, a real person. She invented the mop that was super absorbant, able to be thrown in the washer, and with the handle to twist and wring water out of it. How she got there, and how she became the queen of HSN? Well, that is this story.

Also featuring Bradley Cooper as a QVC exec, Isabella Rossellini as a rich widow, and Isabella Crovetti-Cramp as Young Joy. And no, she didn’t get there by killing her competition.

Fierce
Although every good picture for the movie wants to confirm the revenge killing spree thing it seems.

Joy was a lot more different than Russell’s previous few movies. It started slow and took a long time for “the point” of the film to be shown. Again, going in blind, it just seems like this Joy girl has a messed up family and people are mean to her. But she is nice, so people continue their meanness.

Literally. If you like seeing unfortunate things happen to Jennifer Lawrence for 45 minutes or so, you will love the intro. But when Cooper appears, things seem to change. Yes, she still gets shit on occassionally, but not as much. Hell, a scene near the end had me filled with controllable rage over her circumstances. So in that sense, yes, Joy elicits emotions out of you and you might get pissed off.

But at least we know there is a happy ending, because she is super famous and well off now. Journeys can suck though.

This film felt full of women power. All the men kind of suck in some way, with only two male characters actually being helpful in the end. But most of the men just try to screw her over along the way. But Joy prevails.

During the film, Cooper’s character makes a big deal about a person’s hands. With hands working on TV, it is easier for the viewer to imagine the hands as their own. Once they imagine using the product, they are more willing to buy it. That is when a viewer will realize that throughout the film, before and after the scene, they do a lot of close ups of hands before we find out about the person themselves. Some subtle point there, and honestly, I am not sure what it is. But it was definitely interesting.

Joy is different. Joy is weird. Joy is overall entertaining, it just takes awhile for the hook to really sink in.

3 out of 4.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Hooray another franchise is over! After Harry Potter, I am grateful book series are still afraid to break from the trilogy format. Or else we’d get these yearly movies that drive up the box office and everyone freaks out about and so on.

You know, like Marvel movies. Or the upcoming Star Wars films. One a year. Fuck.

Of course, this time it is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. The studios will say over and over again it is because the last story needs all that time to tell the story, but it is just for money grabbing purposes. It is putting a pause in the plot, usually meaning neither half are a complete film and overdrawn.

Part 1 was the worst film of the franchise. It had about 30 minutes of plot spread out over two hours. And because of that, Part 2 is almost definitely going to suffer for similar reasons. Even if Part 2 is great, the fact that Part 1 exists and is bad, instead of one coherent picture, means both are weaker than they should be. Happened with the final two Twilights, happened with the final two Harry Potters, and will probably happen again here.

Grope
You know, Katniss, this is the last time I might get to dress you.” – Creepy Effie

Katniss Katniss Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence). Katniss found herself choked up over the fact that they saved Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from the Capital, her emotions all over the place. She knows one thing now. She will help Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and the rebels in any way she knows how. The Capital and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) must fall! And die!

Got it? Good. I’m done with that point of view. Lets change it up.

My man, Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) is still a bad ass mother fucker, cool spear trident weapon thing. No one can take him one on one. Except one girl. That’s right, Finnick is getting married. They will have ginger babies. Apparently they are all Irish, and Irish is a thing in this world, because their wedding has Irish violin music and jigs and shit. But that won’t stop him from putting his life on the line to take down the bad guys, YEAH!

Okay okay one more. Caesar Flickerman (StanleY Tucci) is the best host in all of the districts. He has flair, hair, and style. Unfortunately in this movie, he only has one scene as a shitty news anchor person. We don’t delve more into his life. Sad news.

Alright, everyone else in this movie are played by the same people you have seen before. Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Willow Shields, Elizabeth Banks, Mahershala Ali, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Patina Miller, and of course, Elden Henson as the best video camera man in the world. Formally best at shooting the puck really hard.

Walk
“What are you going to do, just walk up to the door stop and kill him?”

I felt a bit silly typing up the plot outline for this film, as you may have guessed. They are finally doing that fight thing. No longer is this about the hunger games, it is about a revolution, damn it. They should really assume the viewers are smarter and just call it Mockingjay without THG.

Part 2 ended up being a lot better than Part 1, but not as good as the first movie or Catching Fire. The ending wasn’t full of epic moments, but just a slow fuse that slowly ran out of steam. And then a couple more scenes, and an epilogue. Hell, the ending was very confusing just in terms of time. I can’t be more specific without bigger spoilers, but the events being shown and that were talked shouldn’t have overlapped as such.

There were some decent action scenes in the middle though. The best was the sewer scene, although it was also confusing. Dark places means they don’t have to make coherent action, which might just be an allusion to the first film where they just changed the camera angles a lot and shook the camera. They threw in zombies out of no where, which is I guess the cool thing to do in a teen book franchises (see Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials). I am sure technically they are not zombies, but they came out of no where and never were really explained, so that is all I can really call them.

When I think back on the Hunger Games franchise in the future, I will just think about the first two movies. As long as you accept that Catching Fire ends with a crappy cliff hanger and doesn’t resolve anything, it will save you from the extremely mediocre two film filler after the fact. With only a handful amount of Finnick scenes to get you by.

2 out of 4.

Serena

After American Hustle, I just assumed every Christmas we would get a movie with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. They did it two years a row, and that means they have to do it forever?

Sure enough, looking at their IMDBs early in 2014, you would have seen Serena, coming out sometime end of 2014. Three for three, they were going for the Turkey!

But then something happened. It never came out. It got pushed to MARCH of 2015, basically the middle of nowhere. And it had an instant VOD release. Thinks weren’t looking good for this period drama set in North Carolina based on a book…

Pink
Real lumberjacks wear pink. Just ask Monty Python!

This movie, Serena, is a period drama (early 1930’s), set in North Carolina (Mountains) based on a book (also called Serena!).

George Pemberton (Cooper) is there, trying to start (or already has?) a big timber business. He is a lumberjack, okay? He is working on expanding his business to overseas, Brazil, get some of that rain forest money.

And then there is Serena (Lawrence). You may have heard about her. She is a blonde stand out, living amongst all the mountain folk. She doesn’t need no man to get her way, but she does, in George. Speaking of George, he has a child actually, with Rachel (Ana Ularu). Kind of awkward, but boys will be boys.

That is, until it is found out that Serena can NOT have kids. So the only person to carry on George’s legacy is some bastard kid. That’s not okay. When people get in Serena’s way, people get hurt. She is conniving and maybe even a little bit mad.

But what else is there to do in the North Carolina mountains?

Also featuring David Dencik, Rhys Ifans, Sean Harris, and Toby Jones.

Craze
And of course it ends with a big dance sequence like in Silver Linings Playbook. Right? Right?!

This has taken me about 10 hours of research after watching the movie, but I think I figured out why it was delayed and eventually only a limited release and VOD.

Serena is not very good.

The book might be fine, great, grand, wonderful. I don’t care. The movie is a bore and it is awkward. First off, Cooper and Lawrence, despite their presumably best efforts, do not look like they fit at all with the rest of the actors in this film. Maybe they are too pretty, maybe just too famous, but it doesn’t work. I would also say they don’t act that great here, which is a shame, since we know what they can do.

The side characters all above were pretty good though! Which is a shame. Their collective good was not great enough to overshadow the lumps of coal that Cooper and Lawrence delivered on a platter, however.

Aside from that, the story is pretty much a bore. Some excitement happens. Maybe two exciting things. And a couple more moments that were meant to be exciting, but instead were met with yawns. By the end when I should care more about the fate of certain characters, I instead found myself checking how much time was left and when it would finally end.

This isn’t All About Steve bad, no, but at least All About Steve had some entertainment value.

1 out of 4.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Ugh. So here we go.

Brief recap of the series from my POV. Hunger Games – Too much training, not enough games. Too much shaky cam, not enough actual action. It is okay. 2 out of 4. Catching Fire – Figured the plot would be contrived and forced to be similar, but it wasn’t. A much better movie, less shaky cam, better acting. 3 out of 4.

So that is some of my biases coming in to this movie. Or should I call it half a movie? After all, The Hunger Games Mockingjay, the final book, was split in half for movie sake. Oh joy. Just like Twilight. Just like Harry Potter. I am sure Divergent will split the final book into three parts. Hell, this is becoming so annoying, The Maze Runner got praise for saying it wouldn’t split up any of the books! Yay!

It should be noted, I really really really fucking hate this. It is just a franchise milking more money before it becomes irrelevant. If they can fit the other X books into one movie, they can do it for the final one too. And the first of the two always ends up being weaker. It was the worst Twilight film, and a more boring Harry Potter. That is because it is all set up for the final more exciting part, and usually bullshit.

But at least Harry Potter had the decency to release the films within a year of each other, about 7 months apart. Part 2 of Mockingjay won’t come out until next November, a whole year later, making it seem like another complete movie and not a continuation.

I guess I am mostly mad because for a movie, I want a complete story and not just crappy tv show cliffhangers. Catching Fire ended on a crappy TV show cliff hanger, and this one will give me only part of a story and make me wait a whole year to see the second half. That is abusing the part 1 and part 2 system and is malarkey. The only reason to wait that amount of time is to make more money, and unfortunately it will make it too.

Conference
Rough plans for their new conference center to discuss ways to make money once this franchise is done.

For those that aren’t in the know, Catching Fire ended with The 75th Hunger Games ending prematurely. Shit broke, lot of chaos and anarchy, people got left behind, and Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself in the once thought destroyed District 13. Looks like they have had a rebel group in here for some time. And so many people are a part of it!

Like, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman)! And Gale (Liam Hemsworth)! And Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) and Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks)! Although their involvement may have been less than voluntary.

Katniss has been brought here for one main reason. To help lead a revolution to take down the capital, to unite the districts as one, and to be the face of PR and propaganda. However, when they rescued her, they notably left a few people behind, including Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a couple other tributes. She doesn’t want to get involved in this war, she just wants to save Peeta. But she gets sucked into it anyway once she finds out that all of District 12 was basically destroyed.

And that’s that! Let the PR campaign begin! Yay warring governments,even if the District 13 President (Julianne Moore) is kind of boring.

Also featuring a whole lot of other people of course. Most returning. Like Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright and Willow Shields. But there is also Mahershala Ali and Natalie Dormer guys. Don’t. Forget. About. Them.

Desolate
They asked the extras who wants to be Jennifer’s BFF.

I don’t want to sound like a self fulfilling prophesier, but…

I think Mockingjay Part 1 is easily the worst film in the series. And the good news is I gave the recap on top of the other two, so I don’t have to explain their advantages, just talk about this film! The good news is that this film is only 2 hours long, not 140 minutes like the last two. It makes sense, as it is only half of a book anyways. And another good aspect of this movie is that it actually tells a complete story, more or less. We have goals at the beginning of the movie, and by the end, those goals are accomplished in a few ways. They just create a couple more issues and lead up to a bigger and more intense thing.

My issues with the film still relate to the parts though, I guess. Despite its shorter run time, this felt like 30-45 minutes of plot spread out over 2 hours. Everything felt slow, much slower than normal. I can only watch so much angst.

In additional, I cringed quite a few times at lines and actions of characters. They felt so unbelievable or unrealistic given the circumstances that I had to roll my eyes. I found it had at times to really get lost in the movie and allow time to go by easily.

It is still not a terrible film or anything, I just think it didn’t get anywhere close to its full potential. Oh well, we will see how I feel a year from now when I can finally get the end to the story.

2 out of 4.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past

X-Men, oh X-Men, where art thou X-Men?

This is the seventh film of the franchise. SEVENTH. X-Men: Days Of Future Past. When I first heard about this, I was excited. It was a very ambitions plot and storyline to go for, time travel tends to do that. Couple that with the fact that X-Men: First Class was actually decent meant the series might be headed off in a certain way.

But you know what was terrible? The advertisements for this movie. By having two time lines of cast, we have a shit ton of characters, and Fox decided the best way to advertise it was to give every character its own…thing, whatever. So, magazines would have 30 unique covers, or 30 individual character posters, or whatever. No giant cast pictures, no, just an overabundance of individual character shit.

Here is one of the real reasons this bugs me. Anna Paquin. It was stated a long time ago, in the year of 2013, that she was basically cut from the movie. Then it became a rumor. Then it became true and then changed to say that she would just be a cameo. Just a cameo? And still getting full ad treatment? Boo. That is almost worst than the 47 Ronin ad issues, because she is supposed to be a bigger character.

Finally, in the credits, her name was higher than many other people in the film. Because she is more famous? Than Ellen Page? Fuck that. She was in the original X-Men movies then a shitty TV show, while Page has had a big lucrative film career. It is just nonsensical, and most of this doesn’t matter for the actual movie.

Sentinels
No, but these robots matter. AW YEAH SENTINELS!

In the near future, everything is bad, lots are dead. Mutants. Humans who would give birth to future mutants. The sentinels have destroyed it all. Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) has an unexplained ability to also let people go back in time with their consciousness to their body and like, change the future. But only for a few days, maybe a week. This is long enough to help their band of mutants survive and run, but not long enough to fix it.

No, they’d have to go back to the 1970’s, before Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) (who’s actual mutant power seems to be very limber leg maneuvers) kills the creator of the Sentinels (Peter Dinklage). But the process to send back a consciousness would tear apart a brain. Unless of course, the brain can heal itself. Hmm.

Enter Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) ready to travel back in time, convince past Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and past Xavier (James McAvoy) to work together, change the future, and fix their stupidity.

Here is where I talk about everyone in the film, but in one giant paragraph. Maybe the new people first? Like, Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Toad (Evan Jonigkeit), Bishop (Omar Sy), Blink (Bingbing Fan), Sunspot (Adan Canto) and Warpath (Booboo Stewart).

Of course we have Old Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Old Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Storm (Halle Berry), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), and of course ROGUE. Just kidding. Bullshit cameo.

Do we get Jean Gray (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), or Old Beast (Kelsey Grammar)? Well, maybe.

Magneto
I will only advertise one character per picture, as per movie tradition.

Yay Sentinels! Like a lot a folks in my age bracket, the Sentinels were one of the first X-Men plots I was exposed to, thanks to the first two episodes of the X-Men Animated TV Series on Fox. Shit, that is where I learned most of my basic plot lines, and why to fear the motherfucking Juggernaut. They were fascinating to see and I love the changes made to them. They were TERRIFYING and kept the viewers on the edge of the seat.

What else rocked? Most of the movie. Sure, some plot elements could have been explained better. But the Xavier/Magneto back story was great, a good continuation from First Class. Speaking of dickheads, Fassbender as Magneto is a huge one, and it was awesome to see. The best part is, you can easily relate to where he is coming from and he isn’t just a mindless villain.

Speaking of even more awesome, Fox’s adaption of Quicksilver was so entertaining. He didn’t have the bigger role in the movie, but whenever he was on screen, you paid attention to him and no one else. They really went all out to make him stand out, kind of a big middle finger to Marvel, daring them to raise the bar in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

To make this long review a bit shorter, here is the quicker analysis: So many characters, but outside of tiny cameos, they all were great and wonderful. Special effects and action was good. Story and plot was good. Holy shit, give me Apocalypse.

Did this 100% fit the continuity issues between a few of the movies? Heck no, but at least it gave it a good try and an entertaining one to boot.

4 out of 4.

American Hustle

A lot of hype went into American Hustle and rightfully so. After all, it is the third movie from David O. Russell in four years, with the last two (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook) being wildly successful and nominated for numerous awards.

Not only that, but he took the two best people from each of his previous two movies (Sorry Marky Mark), and put all four of them together in this to create some sort of mega-moviestar-zord.

Body
Featuring Bale, who has once again recklessly warped his body for a role.

One reason why I really enjoyed American Hustle is that I could never tell what was going to happen next. They had very descriptive trailers, but the plot was left vague so you could still experience the movie. So I will try to be vague here as well.

Ever since Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) was a boy, he was a con man. His dad owned a glass company, and he broke windows. So he grew up gaming the system and perfecting his craft. Next thing you know he stealing money to give out make believe loans to the crooked and desperate. Easy cash for the late 1970s. But then he meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), and he realizes she is special.

Soon they start scamming together, but eventually they get too big and reach too far and get busted by the FBI. Next thing they know, they are taking orders from rambunctious FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), who has big lofty goals of getting even more criminals taken down. The only way Irving and Sydney walk, is if they help out. But Richie has big dreams, can ever really be satisfied?

Oh yeah, and Irving has a wife (Jennifer Lawrence) and kid. That is important, I guess.

Jeremy Renner plays a small town mayor who gets mixed up in the bribing network, with Michael Pena as another FBI agent, and Louis C.K as a local head of FBI. Yeah, really, Louis C.K.

Costume
Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook was my Halloween costume in ’13.
Will this be my Halloween costume in ’14?

American Hustle truly was an experience. Despite the fact that it was over 2 hours in length, I still am a bit surprised at how much material was fit into that movie. Tons. A lot. I remember a specific scene that felt like the final climatic show down, that actually ended up being the halfway point of the movie. It blew my mind, in the best way possible, that it continued to go and tell the story. I was shocked that the story continued to build and reach new heights. That somehow, I couldn’t for the life of me guess correctly what would come next.

After all, this is a con movie at its core, so you are going to expect a lot of twists and turns of the plot. The biggest problem with a con movie is that if it all relies on a twist, sometimes future viewings are dampened, already knowing what to expect. American Hustle feels like a film I could watch over and over again, never getting tired of it, thanks to the brilliant acting and writing that went into the movie.

It is based on/inspired by/whatever by the actual Abscam operation that occurred in the late 1970s, for those history buffs out there.

For those of you out there who already like David O. Russell movies, you will probably like this one too. For those of you a fan of any of the actors/actresses mentioned, you will definitely find their role awesome. If you don’t like David O. Russell movies or the actors/actresses involved in this one, well, your opinion is wrong and you will like this movie too.

4 out of 4.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Before we get started, I should mention some things about The Hunger Games. I gave it a 2 out of 4. I also didn’t watch it until 5-6 months after it went to theater. Not surprisngly, I didn’t read the books, so I had no stake in it.

I knew the rough outline. For some reason, teens have to go into a competition and kill each other, with only one remaining. Literally teens killing teens, very brutal. So I knew it should have been a brutal movie, but they decided to have it about teen death, and show practically nothing, through the use of shaky cam and just not showing crap. Shaky cam makes things look hectic and rushed, placing the viewer in the shoes of a character I guess. It is supposed to increase tension, but really is cheap, lazy, and lowers the rating. So that was annoying for the entirety of the games.

Outside of other random issues, the story felt complete after the games. Her life is going to change, but whatever, that doesn’t mean we need more story about it. Basically, I feel like I felt after watching Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Interesting story, no need to move on. But they both move on? The next two movies for Girl felt forced, and just didn’t feel as good as the first. So I am worried the same thing will occur here too, with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

I mean, we will see how it goes, just throwing out my thoughts ahead of time, so you know where I am coming from.

Mermaid
All of those thoughts were quelled when I realized it featured a literal merman, though.

The sequel takes place almost a year after the original movie. Everything is back to normal. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) isn’t anything special at home, for whatever reason. She just wants to get her love on with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), but has to pretend to be in love with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Or else like, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) said he would kill all of her loved ones. You know, typical teenage girl stuff.

Why? Because she is a threat to the government. The districts are furious that two winners were allowed for once, and if it isn’t true love, they will feel scammed. They will riot. They will assume the government isn’t all powerful. But her love games aren’t fooling anyone it turns out. So they have to make an alternative strategy.

Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is made the new games dude, and they are allowed to fuck up the rules when they hit a quarter mark anniversary. Oh good timing! Number 75 is here! In an act to show that the government is the greatest power and no one can defy their power, not even past winners, they decide to pick the tributes solely out of the past winners still alive per district. Yay! We are talking old people and adults! Also people who know how to kill.

So what is a Katniss going to do? Maybe she is going to have to kill Peeta yo.

Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, and Stanley Tucci reprise their roles from the first film. Also introducing Sam Claflin as the merman (kind of), Jena Malone as an axe wielder, and Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer as really smart people from District 3. All in the games, of course.

Protest
Peeta gave that bitch some protests. That bitch loves protests. [But still not Peeta]

Despite the weather’s best attempts, I still was able to watch this movie on its opening premier, which means surrounded by a lot of rabid fanboys and girls. Armed with my best Twilight T-Shirt, I was able to sit down and get ready to criticize all of the problems I already saw from the trailer with the story. And then the unthinkable happened. The movie explained the “problem areas” in the movie, and all of my pre-concerns were gone. Damn. Ain’t that a bitch?

Seriously. Fuck the trailer for Catching Fire. It was badly put together in comparison to the movie, showing some nonsensical crap and in retrospect, basically a piece of shit. Because the movie explains everything and doesn’t leave any of the potential plot holes out there. It does a great job of explaining it all.

What else did I dislike about the first movie? The shaky cam. Well, there is a lot less of that. Easy enough fix. I am not saying there was more action, because that is debatable, but there is definitely less shaky cam.

Overall, I was pretty entertained by watching Catching Fire. It was full of surprising moments to me, as a movie watcher, and kept me more or less on my toes. I do have to wonder why the tributes, if they were all super pissed that they had to be there (literally all of them, who wouldn’t be?), even decided to battle and kill the tributes. It would be a good show of solidarity if they just all refused to do it, you know. But that isn’t action-y enough I guess, we need some bad people still.

Costume
This section was looking too wordy, so I threw in a third picture to distract you. And make it look even longer.

I disliked how the film chose to end. Reminded me of the ending of Matrix Reloaded, which was bad enough that I didn’t watch the third one. I get it. Based on a books so stories won’t be completed. But they chose to end it after giving a lot of new information and changing things up, which should only be a tactic for weekly TV shows, not movies. It is already enough bullshit that the third movie is being split into two again because “there is so much story to tell!” (re: money to make). And now I am getting what feels like childish cliffhangers instead of a full story for a movie.

In addition to that issue, I will note the games themselves felt way easier this time than last time, which is kind of annoying. I am being advertised that this is the best of the best, all born killers, but she has a pretty easy time during these games compared to the last. Not only is it easier, but she has fewer moral choices to make too. A bit disappointing.

Catching Fire is definitely a step up from the first film though, and overall, pretty decent of a movie..

3 out of 4.