The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

Mockingjay-1 

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Political chess game.

There’s a special quality to dystopian films based on young adult novels, whether they are or are not getting old fast. They are usually really good, or more often than not, really bad. However, there was one series that I’ve kind of fallen in love with since they began, and that was The Hunger Games. This series was insane from the very moment it began – and both the first and second film blew me away. I’ve rated them both really high scores…and even gave Catching Fire 100% – the rare, but perfect score. So to say I was excited for Mockingjay is putting it lightly. Well here it is, stretched into two parts – so how does it go? Well, it doesn’t exactly blow you away this time – but it’s still good.

Jennifer Lawrence is back as Katniss Everdeen, our savior of Panem and local legend seen as the Mockingjay – a symbol to those without hope. There have been more uprising and rebellions against the Capitol, and President Snow has began killing anyone that supports her symbol…which is making things worse. Katniss must act as the rebellion’s voice and weapon, the Mockingjay – while the Capitol has their own weapon – Peeta. Katniss agrees to help the rebellion on the one condition that they find and rescue Peeta.

The main story of this film is about saving Peeta all the while going over the main arc of stopping President Snow and his reign of terror over Panem. That I get, but this is the only film in the franchise thus far that didn’t wow me. It didn’t blow me away. I’m just left thinking the movie is pretty good…but at the same time, I left the theater feeling a little unsatisfied. It’s an incomplete film that never needed to be split into two parts. It was simply split into two to make a little more money than they normally would have with just a straight, boring trilogy. Some two-part finales I get. The last Harry Potter book was really thick, have you see the first edition of that thing? Lots of material to split if need be – but come on – Mockingjay would have been a lot better had they kept it as one movie.

Because this is the first part, it’s filled with a lot of set-up and preparation for the conclusion – and for the most part, that’s all the movie was. Set up. There was very little action, and just a lot of political chess moves of one-upping each other on both sides. It almost felt filler in some scenes, and I couldn’t help but feel a little drowsy in some of these scenes.

Don’t misunderstand, I did like the movie. It’s a very good movie all on its own, it’s just not what you expect to see from a Hunger Games movie, and what I expect to ultimately see in the final film. It’s got a decent minor and overall goal that makes plenty sense – and Josh Hutcherson’s role as Peeta in this film is really interesting and mysterious. It also has a really strong voice in military decisions and political actions – which I figured would probably be the case.

One of my pet peeves in the film was the documentary crew following around Katniss. It was one step away from found-footage territory here, and that really bugged me, because the whole thing had a strange tone to it. I get it – the war of media against media across miles and miles of terrain, but that’s ALL this movie WAS. It was setting things up and following Katniss around while they have a “whose better” contest with the Capitol. Again, I get it, but enough is enough.

The Good:

I probably gave this film more crap in my review than I should have. In the end, the movie on its own is just fine. It’s got a decent plot, plenty of mystery and intense build-up, characters that you love to watch, and the action it does have is quite exciting.

The Bad:

Personally, I don’t think “fine” is good enough. I want to sit at the edge of my seat contemplating on what I just witnessed. All in all, there were too many scenes of the Capitol and Katniss mocking each other with taunts and threats because all this was – was set up for what really matters and what you really want to actually watch – which is the second part of the story.

The Last Airbender (2010)

The-Last-Airbender

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Too many expectations!

Among M. Night Shyamalan’s list of most-hated films, you’ll most definitely run into two specific ones – The Happening and The Last Airbender. It’s just a fact, people absolutely hate these movies. The Happening is a film that I sort of understand why…but not so much for the latter. The Last Airbender is not the best movie in the world, no, but it is far, far from the worst. The only thing I can think of is that people didn’t like it because of the way the story is presented in the original animated series versus the film. We’ll get to that, but here’s a spoiler – I never watched the series – and apparently that works out for the better in my case.

Okay, so Aang is a special little kid. In a fictitious world of people that have the ability to bend the four basic elements, Aang is the last one alive that can bend the element of air. He’s also the legendary Avatar, who is basically Neo in the Matrix. Supposedly, he has the potential of commanding all four elements, but at his young age, can only control air. So the evil Fire Nation are trying to imprison him in order to stop his learning.

Alrighty, so why do people hate this movie? It’s clear to me, even by Rotten Tomatoes basic overview consensus, that people didn’t like the film because it botched up the original source material. As I’ve said before, I didn’t see the original source material, however…I also believe in creative freedom if it is done in a good light. If their interpretation of the story makes sense and is fun to watch all on its own, then that’s all that matters. Screw the cartoon, watch THAT if you want to see that interpretation. This film is absolutely fine. It makes sense, there is a clear goal, and there is some really fancy visual effects going on throughout the film – as well as interesting fight choreography.

I liked the film just fine, but it does have one huge flaw, and that is unfortunately the acting. Critics got it spot on here, because the acting is mediocre at best, and the Avatar himself is the absolute worst actor of the bunch. I love what he’s about and the actions his character does on screen, he’s got the look, but the acting is pretty bad I have to admit – which does take the movie down a notch. That’s the thing though, people make this movie out to be absolutely atrocious when the only bad thing about it is the acting. The rest of it is fine.

It’s not confusing, it doesn’t have “incomprehensible plotting” (RT). It’s about a kid on a quest to reach his potential – and you as the audience knows the obstacles he must go through in order to reach that potential. It’s an action adventure kid’s movie…I really don’t get what everyone’s deal is. For what it’s worth, it did what it intended to do for it’s specific target audience. In the end, what more can you ask for?

The Good:

People really gave this film crap when it didn’t deserve crap. No, it doesn’t stay true to it’s source material (or so I’ve heard), but who gives a crap? As a movie on its own, it’s an action adventure kid’s movie about a boy on a quest to reach his potential, and the people in the world that are willing to risk their lives in order to stop that from happening because they feel threatened. How exactly is that bad?

The Bad:

I’m not even going to mention the source material here, because that makes no difference as to a movie being good independently. If you require the movie to stay true to the original source, you are a closed-minded audience member. Instead, the one and only bad thing about this movie was the acting. The acting dropped it down a few notches because it was pretty bad here and there. But again…kid’s movie.

The Village (2004)

The-Village

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Switches things up.

I know you guys remember the legend of M. Night Shyamalan – back when he was good – a rising name in the world of great directors. Not only directors, but writers alike…people were starting to call him the new Hitchcock – which was huge praise. People expected a lot from his unique view on filmmaking. So it’s really no wonder why The Village is quite possibly his best movie when it comes to casting. Have you seen this thing recently? The cast is really impressive, names I not only forgot were on there, but was pleasantly excited to see them – like Jesse Eisenberg – whose role is completely unimportant and barely even there – but it’s Jesse Eisenberg! Anyways, I do like this movie more than most, and I’ll try my best to explain why.

The Village is about – surprise, surprise – a village set in the late 19th century. Filled with residents who have really made a nice life for themselves, apart from the fact that the entire town is stalked and threatened by mysterious creatures that live in the woods surrounding the village. Basically, the townsfolk and the creatures have some sort of agreement not to cross the border and everyone is safe. That is…until things change. Someone breaks the code and crosses the threshold, sending havoc and death among the people of the village, threatening their very limited existence.

Alrighty – so a lot of people have a problem with this movie. In fact, this is really where people began to lose faith in Shyamalan. Not completely though, that’s what Lady in the Water ultimately did – but it started here…why? Easy answer, people had huge expectations from Shyamalan at this point – and expected to see the same basic thing here. A creepy, scary tale with a huge twist at the end that makes you question your entire experience. While that is somewhat available here – that’s really not what it’s about.

The subplot of the film is really the main focus – or should have been, rather. I’m talking about the love story between Lucas Hunt (Joaquin Pheonix) and Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard) and the entire subliminal commentary about society and culture in general. These two things intertwined were actually quite captivating. The romance in particular, blended with the creepy dark tone of the movie was specifically unique and weirdly welcomed. These two had really, really good chemistry and you start to fall in love with their paring. The thing is…that’s not what the main focus was on primarily when you watch it for the first time.

When you watch this for the first time, you are just paying attention to these…creature things that live in the forest…and when you do that – no, the movie really isn’t that great…but when you focus on the love story, it’s really unlike anything you’ve ever seen before – and you can’t help but respect that. Also, the film has really interesting visuals between the color red and yellow. While everything else is a dull, desaturated color, the reds and yellows were both very vibrant and worked really well against those other, duller colors. Basically – it’s really nice just to look at if nothing else.

Here’s where my main issue comes in: As much as I really like the love story here, and hidden messages – which I do…M. Night. purposefully geared the audience to focus on these creatures because of his past reputation. I understand why, but he put himself into the ditch by doing it. That very decision is what actually started his decline in the movie business, which is really disappointing to me, because I consider myself to be a pretty big fan of his…I still don’t think I can miss his next film – regardless of his current, forgotten position in film. I know he still has it in him, and I await his fame to regain its strength.

The Good:

When you stop watching this film as a horror and start watching it as a dark, but sweet romance…you really appreciate everything the movie is about – because the acting and chemistry from our leading characters is too good to pass up. You love these characters. Who cares about the creatures when you have these two?

The Bad:

The giant misunderstanding about this movie is actually really disappointing – but I do understand where people are coming from – and it is partially Shyamalan’s fault – he did bring it upon himself.

As Above, So Below (2014)

As-Above-So-Below

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
So, so close.

Call me crazy, but I’m always a big fan of treasure hunter films and stories. I’m talking about the ancient history turned to modern clues like in any Indiana Jones movie, or National Treasure, or the Tomb Raider or Uncharted video games…I love it because it has the potential of at least seeming like something you could personally investigate yourself. Blending fact with urban legends like that is really special if you can actually do it properly. As Above, So Below is one of those films that I really wanted it to work out for, because it begins brilliantly – but the one problem this film faces is that stupid “horror” word which is smack dab in the middle of the main genres – and it’s that one single word that ruins, practically, the whole thing.

This film stars Perdita Weeks as a professor of…something that has had a huge fascination with the history of the world – and she risks her life finding information which would lead her into the catacombs underneath Paris, because she believes that she just paved the way to finding the legendary Philosopher’s Stone. You know the stone, it was in Harry Potter before they changed the title to Sorcerer’s Stone. This stone has a ton of magical properties, including the ability to grant someone immortality. Only, her group of explorers must go through great obstacles and tribulations in order to find it. 

Fantastic concept, I have to admit. The only time I thought I’d ever see anything about the Philospher’s stone was in Harry Potter, and that story is a little skewed to fit into their own universe. This is more about the actual legend, and the way this film was written to seem realistic in going from clue to clue was smart and exciting. Maybe not as exciting as Indiana Jones, but I kid you not, if you ignore the fact that the girl’s name is Scarlett, you can literally, and I mean literally, believe that this is instead – the best Tomb Raider movie to have ever existed. She has the look, the voice, the accent, the knowledge and intellect to solve clues, and heck – even her hairstyle is perfect. I’d be lying if I said at least a little bit of this film didn’t look like it derived a great deal of inspiration from the popular video game series.

Unfortunately, again, you have the word “horror” sitting on the genre pool, and you’re just waiting for what you know to expect – to happen…and it does. Look, the first thing this film’s tone gives off is something similar to Descent. You will expect to see some kind of creature feature and cheap scares – which do happen…but not exactly in the way you’d imagine – but still unnecessary. The film was going really good for the first two thirds…the last third is just stupid.

Let’s talk about found-footage, as this film is made as your basic, run-of-the-mill fake documentary. I have to say that when it comes to found footage, I’ve seen way worse, folks. They actually did a really good job keeping true to what found footage would actually look like unedited – which means the thing going black while under blankets, or during cave-ins, or what have you. There are no weird cuts or camera angles, it’s all pretty decent in that aspect – but again – not necessary for this film. I sort of get why they did it, but this is the kind of movie that has a better chance at grabbing my focus without using a set of cameras as plot devices.

The Good:

As Above, So Below actually has a few good positive attributes that most people probably won’t really understand. It stands on a very firm and smart foundation, which is key to an awesome premise, which this film definitely has. The acting wasn’t bad, really, and the writing for what they were going for was smarter than I ever thought possible for this film.

The Bad:

For some reason that I don’t understand, they wanted to make this thing a horror, when the thing was absolutely fascinating without the horror element. With the element, it becomes something very – very stupid in the last third that loses my attention and interest into what’s going on overall.

The Babadook (2014)

Babadook

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Creepy, stylish, unique.

I’m a semi-fan of the horror genre. I prefer a very specific type of horror in film – and that is a scary movie that doesn’t rely on cheap scares or heavy gore. In fact, my opinion on a scary movie is one that doesn’t show anything visually at all, other than maybe one short glimpse. Instead, I want the audience to create their own image of a monster – because your brain is capable of creating the scariest thing you can ever imagine (obviously). Make the audience draw up their own personal monster based on the legends and sounds the film provides. While The Babadook sort of does this, it takes a completely different route to scare you…which I can also respect.

Now, this movie centers on the family of a single mother and her son.  A few years ago, on the day of her son’s birth, this woman went through a tremendous loss and it never stopped affecting her. She loves her son, but you can almost tell right away that she can’t always stand the boy.When she accidentally reads him a nightmare-inducing bedtime story called Mister Babadook, the two of them begin experiencing strange phenomenon around the house that, in a way, mimics the events of the book.

This is a very, very interesting film for a variety of reasons. I don’t necessarily call it scary in the traditional sense, but more along the lines of a psychological sense – which I love. Anything that goes down the path of psychological thrillers I will usually be game for, because they make you think – and any horror film that makes the audience think about scary things…is on the right path. The Babadook initially makes you think about this monster in the book, and as it moves along, the film grows intense and starts to make you think about other things.

One of the best attributes this film has is the ability to offer you a few different explanations. You can easily watch it as a scary, bump-in-the-night, boogeyman horror film, or you can look at it a few other, reasonable ways as well. For example, and this may be a little spoilery, but in the beginning of the film, you know the mother hadn’t been sleeping in a long time and that her son is a very strange, imaginative boy. The Babadook could simply be the product of a young boy’s imagination and hallucination of a terribly sleep-deprived mother. There are solid reasons to believe a supernatural presence as well, though, which makes this film absolutely fascinating.

As fascinating as it is, however, I still have my problems with it. Now these problems are strictly opinionated from my end, but I don’t think they needed to show as much of this Babadook as they did – whether it was real or not. I appreciated the corner-of-your-eye, brief glimpses of it, as it could have been seen as a “Did I just see…nawwww” moment. The story the mother read to the boy was our “legend” that I was talking about earlier. All the movie had to do from that point forward is to give you hints that it may either be real, or the product of paranoia and sleep deprivation.

Another problem I had with this film was unfortunately the kid. They played him off as an annoying, strange kid…and he is exactly that. I couldn’t help but notice the child screaming his head off in almost every single scene, and this is a very quiet movie – other than the kid. You can have the volume at maximum with this movie and be straining to hear what people are saying, but then that kid talks and you’re immediately covering your ears. It’s more than that though, I really don’t think he’s the greatest child actor. There are moments when he’s supposedly supposed to look terrified, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see a hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth every time.

Back to the concept of the thing – is The Babadook a scary movie? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that it plays with the senses in your brain that trigger being creeped out. It plays with very real, human problems that also affect you in horrible ways – and these are the main things that get you. These are the moments that creep you out to no end; the idea that the real horror of the film could be something hidden underneath the layer of this Babadook creature story. Some people will truly love this film.

The Good:

There is a lot to love with The Babadook, as it goes back to some of the key elements that made horror a legendary genre in film. There are no cheap scares or reliance on buckets of blood or guts. It wears the mask of a scary creature film while really scaring the audience with realistic and dramatic human problems – and how those things can possibly manifest themselves into inner demons and change a person if they aren’t careful…or something like that.

The Bad:

It’s not going to impress a lot of people who are prone to expect certain things out of horror films. Also, that kid annoyed the crap out of me.

Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

Dumb-and-Dumber-TO

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Kinda expected that.

I grew up loving Jim Carrey. I all but idolized the man…okay, fine. I idolized him. He is one funny guy, and around 1994, his fame exploded with three of his biggest hits – one including Dumb & Dumber. In my opinion, somehow the Farrelly brothers struck gold with that movie. They hit all the right spots in all the right ways, making one of the best, if not the best stupid comedy film of all time. Who wouldn’t want to see Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reprise the roles that, in some ways, defined their careers? At the same time though, Dumb and Dumber To took a huge risk…which was ruining the reputation of the first by, more or less, making a parody of itself…and it hurts me to say that this movie kind of did just that.

Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunn are back at it again – on the road to save Harry’s life. You see, he needs a kidney transplant and the only living relative that could help him is a daughter that he unknowingly had fathered twenty years prior. So they head to El Paso to find her, equipped with an important, life-altering package – all the while escaping two criminals that want to kill them. Sound familiar?

Oh yes, this movie follows the same basic structure as the first. Right down to the same music, wardrobe, and jokes. Now, there are some good original jokes that are introduced this time around that feel native to our favorite idiots, but they repeat some of the classic jokes to put our hearts into the movie. Jokes aren’t really the issue here, its that same…overall feel that this film gives off that makes us think that depressing thought…is that all they could come up with after twenty years?

Poor Jim Carrey can’t make a sequel that people like…at least not initially. The sequel to Ace Ventura was almost globally hated when it was first released, and I know people who actually like it better than the first, and judging by my rating of the two – I’m one of them…so will this just have a bad rating initially? Will people come to think of it as a cult classic? My honest opinion is not at all – because of the mere fact that it’s just a carbon copy of the original that doesn’t try hard enough to be something completely different – which is what Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls actually did. When you have two movies that are virtually the same in every aspect it just comes down to which one you personally prefer – and I don’t know if they tried to meet expectations of a new audience or not, but there were moments in this movie where I felt as if it was trying a little too hard.

It’s awesome to see these two jump back into these roles, and I think they did a great job – but there were moments here and there where it seemed like they were over-acting and trying to push that dumb factor more than necessary. The first film featured a more realistic atmosphere that Lloyd and Harry just manipulated to seem over-the-top. It was a very polar opposite type deal, so they didn’t need to act too dumb because it felt more natural that way. It seemed to me as if certain things OTHER than the two leads were also over-the-top in the sequel – and the flow didn’t seem as natural anymore.

The thing you love about these guys is the fact that they are more or less children in adult bodies. Manchilds, if I may. That’s true here as well, but they did seem a little more raunchy and inappropriate in this film. They were always inappropriate, yes – but for me, it just seemed like another thing the Farrelly brothers pushed that wasn’t necessary and maybe even made the thing worse than it was.

Overall, Dumb & Dumber will always be one of my favorite comedies period, and there isn’t a chance that I’ll ever forget it…while the sequel will probably join the others at Misfit Island.

The Good:

Love it or hate it, you gotta love Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, who have tremendous chemistry on screen, and can still pull out a good chuckle here and there – the devotion they put into making this film and promoting it is worth noting. It is also a thousand times better than that movie, Dumb and Dumberer that no one dare acknowledges.

The Bad:

It’s just the same thing again, just less funny. Less funny not because of the jokes but because of the unoriginality seeping from the thing. You can enjoy it for the characters and some of the throwbacks that remind you of the original, but at the end of the day, you’d rather see the first movie.

Awake (2007)

Awake

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Chilling and thought-provoking

I have often been accused of watching movies purely because the general public likes them, and if they like it, then as will I. Not true. I watch movies that people talk about and give my two cents, sure, but there are movies that I adore that the general public doesn’t…for whatever reason. Same vice versa. Awake is one of these films. Because I recently referenced this film in my review of If I Stay, I found myself on edge because I knew I had to watch it again – if only to review it. People don’t really give this film the credit it truly deserves, so I’m here to set the world straight. Awake is a deeply distressing film that should be given another chance because it is so messed up…and so good.

The film is about anesthetic awareness, and Hayden Christensen plays a very rich man that practically owns half of the city he lives in – but he has a heart condition and needs a transplant fast. He’s dating the lovely Samantha Lockwood  (Jessica Alba)– whom he absolutely loves as much as his defective heart will allow. When he is finally prepped for surgery, the anesthesia puts him under enough to paralyze him, but not enough to knock him out. He can feel everything that’s happening in excruciating detail. The roughness of the unsharpened blades, the cold ammonium that stings his skin, the cutting and separating of his ribs…all of that – but that’s not even the worst part. He overhears his best friend and trusted doctor collaborating with the other doctors on a secret plan to murder him and collect $100 million in life insurance – and their plan to get away with it is meticulous…and Clay (Christensen) can’t do anything to stop it.

Seriously, now, who wouldn’t love this movie? The concept alone is brilliant, and it may not have needed the murder conspiracy in order to survive, but believe me when I say that I think it actually made the movie feel just a little more complete. There is a lot of messages throughout the film. It first shocked us with the fact that over 30,000 patients experience the physical aspect that Clay goes through in this film – which in and of itself is chilling just to think about. Then, it goes into the main story about the plot to kill him. While some of this is a little farfetched and unbelievable, the heart of the story isn’t.

When you look beneath the fact that all of these doctors are trying to kill him, you find a very ugly truth about life. People can have this ever maddening appetite for greed which twists and contorts their very existence. What people in this film are willing to do for money is disgusting and wrong – but it’s not unbelievable. This is a movie about greed, but this is also a movie about unconditional trust  as it clashes with unforgiveable betrayal. Terrence Howard plays not only his handpicked surgeon, but also his best friend that he trusts with his life. He wouldn’t pick a trusted surgeon that operated on presidents because his trust for a friend and doctor supersedes the very knowledge he has that his doctor has personally already had four malpractice suits.

I know a lot of people probably don’t want to see this movie primarily because of Hayden Christensen. I get it – you think he ruined Star Wars for you…or something like that, but I personally think this is one of his best movies. In fact, I believe the same goes for Jessica Alba and Terrence Howard. Their performances in this movie, and absolutely messed up chemistry with each other is so good that you just can’t help but keep watching. I would also suggest you keep an open ear for the musical score in this movie, because that alone is comprised of chillingly beautiful songs composed on a piano that fits so well with the tone of the movie. I really don’t get why people didn’t like the movie.

The Good:

If you’re looking for a chilling and creepy tale with a really great tone that makes you think – look no further. The topics this film covers will chill you to the core. In my opinion, this is one of the best movies that any of the three main actors have ever participated in.

The Bad:

People might expect this to be bad based off of the current rankings seen on review sites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb. Other than that, the whole story progression is a bit extreme and you might scoff at some of the things that happen…but I implore you to give it a chance.

If I Stay (2014)

If-I-Stay

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Intriguing, but boring.

Funny story, other than writing movie reviews, I also write novels. Whether I finish or not is usually a completely different story, but there was this one story that I came up with that involved an accident and a comatose patient witnessing their life from a third-person perspective. I never finished it, but it would have gone into depth with how that affects them in their out-of-body state. That’s the first thing that came to mind while watching If I Stay – but, I have to say that I like the route my story would have went a bit more than how this one went. Not to say that this was a horrible movie…no, it’s not. It’s just a little slower and more melodramatic than I would have typically liked.

Alrighty then, Chloë Grace Moretz plays Mia, a musically-incline cello player that has the entire world ahead of her…or does she? Turns out she gets thrown into a car wreck and is immediately sent into a coma. Only problem is…she wakes up in an out-of-body experience where bad things after bad things keep happening around her and she has to decide whether to stay or to pass on.

I love the idea of patients experiencing life in the phenomenon of an out-of-body experience (OBE). I love it, which is why I try my best to find these things where I can – because in my opinion, there’s a lot of potential in OBE films. One of my favorites is a movie called Awake – where the patient is unknowingly awake during open heart surgery and can feel everything – what’s more – his doctors are planning to kill him for the life insurance money because he’s rich. It’s gritty, it’s chilling, it’s creepy, and in a certain light, it’s believable. If I Stay is…melodramatic and takes a different route than I would have expected…well…anyone would have expected.

It takes a lot of time going back and forth from her OBE and from her life before it, leading up to the actual event. That’s fine, I have no problem with flashbacks, but the problem with these flashbacks are that they are boring and there’s not one iota of plot development that I really care about in these scenes. It’s a typical family drama with teenage romance that has its basic ups and downs…its really just slow and conventional…and I feel like I’m losing the point of these scenes. The only real interesting element of the film is this paranormal aspect of the OBE, and even that has uninteresting elements to it.

These scenes are fine in theory, but they rely heavily on emotional performances. What’s more – they rely heavily on emotionally shot scenes. That means not only the performances need to be realistic and believable, but the flow of these revealing scenes needs to grasp the audience and throw them for a loop. This film has trouble with that. The first emotionally-important scene in the movie is really just revealed matter-of-factly, and because of that, Chloë’s acting as far as reactions probably didn’t click as well as it should have with some audience members.

Now, I like Chloë Grace Moretz. I think she is a very promising actress that knows how to pick a role. For her age, she has already proven her abilities in acting as she has picked roles from comedies, action films, dramas, and even dabbled in horror. She knows her stuff, and plays a really good, likeable teenager. She does great here as well, but I have to say that I have seen her before in better roles that I feel suited her more efficiently. However, Stacy Keach plays her grandfather and my god, that man can act in anything he is given. In my opinion, he is the best actor in the movie and needed more screen time.

I think for the most part, this movie just needed to have a little more focus from the OBE side of things. That’s not because I prefer movies like that, it’s because in this specific story, that was the most interesting element. Her life before didn’t seem to be having any set direction other than a basic coming-of-age tale that seemed pretty separate from her experiences in the hospital. That’s the problem…they didn’t feel that connected other than the obvious fact that Chloë was playing the same role in both scenarios. So in a way – it felt unbalanced.

The Good:

There is quite a bit of potential in this film, as it takes the ever-intriguing out-of-body experience as a twist on the basic coming-of-age tale.

The Bad:

It needed more out-of-body experience scenes, and the emotional scenes needed to be written, performed, and shot differently than they were…because as it stands, I felt separated from the movie and any of the characters – and that should never happen in any movie experience.

What If (2013)

What-If

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Chemistry-driven, but uncompelling.

Whether we admit it or not, we all live in a sea of what ifs. Not to say that’s because we regret any of our life choices, but rather to say just that – what if? What if this happened differently than it actually did…where would I be in life? Would I be in the same spot or would everything be different. Better? Worse? It’s a mind-boggling question and you could literally think about it for hours on end. We’ve all been struck with the question – but the movie What If? only hits one version of this question…which happens to be one of love and relationships. What if I stay and see what happens with this girl who is already in a relationship…will it make a difference? What if I agree to just be friends even though I want something more? Will it be my own struggle that won’t affect her…or is it a bad idea?

What If stars Daniel (Harry Potter) Radcliffe and Zoe (Ruby Sparks) Kazan as our two star-crossed lovers of the day. Here’s what you should know – Wallace (Radcliffe) is wildly in love with Chantry (Kazan), but can’t make any moves because she’s dating a hotshot United Nations expert. Her boyfriend is never around though, so she also has a thing for Wallace – so they unknowingly have a bit of an emotional affair…which can only lead to one thing…

Hmm, well one this is for sure – Zoe Kazan has this amazing ability to bring chemistry to the screen. Whether it’s friendly, family, or romantic chemistry…she is a wizard at it because she has this very unique and innocent way about the way she plays her characters. Yeah, it may be getting a little tiresome seeing her do the same thing over and over, and yes, I’d like to see a more broader acting range from the gal, but she still has a great talent in chemistry. You wouldn’t think Daniel Radcliffe would do so well in a rom-com, but if it wasn’t for her presence, he probably would have been horrible.

So the film has great chemistry and generic social interaction, but what else does it have? In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t have anything else. This whole plot was utterly predictable and nothing we haven’t seen before. I’m glad these two actors took a stab at it, but when you think about the writing room – you have to acknowledge that somewhere someone said this idea was unique enough to make a movie out of, and it’s not. Because of that, the movie is uncompelling, and because of that, the movie feels really long. I mean, really really long.

When you think about entertainment level, the movie is almost…almost at a point where you can watch if you’re bored and have nothing else to do. I say almost because the chances are, any other movie would probably be a little more unique and interesting than this one. However, if you’re one of those strange people that only watch movies based on character chemistry, then hey, enjoy it.

The Good:

What If has a lot of great chemistry going for it. As far as romance goes, the film does a great job at presenting two people on the same wave lengths – which can be very hard to find in real life. If nothing else, that’s commendable.

The Bad:

There is absolutely nothing special about this movie. It’s a very basic romantic comedy that never surprises you and never really tries to be anything unique – and because of that, it’ll feel like the thing is at least 2 hours when it’s really 90 minutes.

Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
A wondrous adventure.

I’m a fan of science fiction. I’m a fan of Christopher Nolan. Put those two together and you get Interstellar – A movie that did a pretty solid job at hiding its plot other than to say, hey, this is Mathew McConaughey in space – and it’s gonna be mighty pretty – maybe even on the same wave length as the visual marvel – 2001: A Space Odyssey. Other than that, no one really knew what this thing was. However, my faith in Nolan was enough to get me to the movie theater for the very first showing of the film…at least in my city, that is. What I found is a movie, while not perfect, is still one heck of an entertaining feature.

To give you a better idea of what this movie is about – picture a dying world overrun by increasing dust storms. These dust storms are making it very difficult for farmers like Cooper (McConaughey) to maintain their fields before they burst into flames every now and then (the fields, not the farmers). When he learns the world doesn’t have all that much time left, he is selected by NASA to head up a team of astronauts  on a space mission – through a nearby wormhole – to find a viable planet to continue the human race. What they find is…very interesting.

Well, this is science fiction, indeed. More so than I actually thought it would be. They spoke in vivid detail of scientific theories that I’m personally not familiar with. It was practically educational, like I was reading straight out of an issue of Popular Science, and it was never boring. Not even for a second. I actually expected less theoretical intelligence speech and more, just, visual marvel stuff. That’s not to say there wasn’t any visual marvels, there definitely were, just not as much as I sort of expected. Instead, we got a lot of more story and character development than I initially would have also expected from a movie like this.

Indeed, the acting in this film is quite impressive. There is a lot of emotional scenes coming from the entire cast. In my opinion, I think they pushed those a little more than they should have, but for the most part it feels natural. The casting, by the way, was great. They did a great job concealing the fact that a lot of these well-known actors show up throughout the movie. There is a lot of moments where you can’t help but say, “wait, did you know they were in this movie?”. So, it does a really good job at surprising you as far as casting goes, but here’s where I’m a little upset – the plot.

Look, leaving the planet in a search to find another planet to live on is a fantastic plot, but it’s not something utterly unique. It sounds eerily familiar because we’ve seen this stuff in movies, tv, and spoken about in theory just in general. Christopher Nolan did a great job with that kind of an idea, but I found some things to be a little predictable in the story. It may just be me, but I found that while watching it – I would do things a certain way if I personally wrote the movie – and that’s how it ends up going down…every time. Either that means the movie is predictable or it means great minds think alike…either way, that could happen to others and I just wished the movie was a little more impossible to predict.

Now, the comedy in the movie was great, what little there was – coming from the onboard robot…thing. Now that was something very unique and I definitely appreciated the route they went with that specific…element. Other than that, the performances alone – as stated before, were very good.

The Good:

Interstellar is an intergalactic phenomenon of a movie…for the most part. It’s got great characters, chemistry, a great plot, and unbelievable reveals throughout the movie that really make this movie feel like a complete success.

The Bad:

In my opinion, the plot felt too familiar, and because of that, I ended up predicting a lot of the things that happen in the movie that I’m guessing I’m not supposed to know.

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