Twister (1996)

Twister

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Still the best.

If there’s one good thing that comes out of a rotting, decaying, abscess of a tooth keeping you up at night – it would be all the time in the world to watch movies. Yes, three in the morning may have most of you wiping your eyes out of tiresome reasons, but not me. I decided I would watch a classic disaster movie – you know, the kind that still seemed unique and innocent instead of super flashy and in-your-face? I’m talking about Twister, the best tornado movie that has ever been and probably ever will be. Move aside, Into the Storm, there’s no way you could ever match the caliber that this film set for itself.

If you aren’t familiar with the story, get familiar with it. It’s about a team of twister trackers that basically have one goal set in mind – to unleash Dorothy – a tornado tracking system that demands the team get as close as humanly possibly to the twister – we’re talking in the eye of the storm – which means danger and life threatening scenarios. If they can get everything set, they’d improve the warning system of just 3 minutes to 15 minutes to get to safety. However, another team of storm trackers are hot in pursuit, and aiming to steal their thunder…so to speak.

A little history lessen for you folks already familiar with storm tracking – Twister introduced us to the mere idea of physically tracking storms. It was happening in the real world, but to the outside world – most people got their information from the meteorologist on the news, no one even thought about these daredevils that risk their lives every day trying to find the biggest, baddest tornadoes in the name of science. Since this film, we’ve come out with various reality shows and movies that touch the same subject, but nothing has ever been so genuine and relatable than Twister, which continues to maintain it’s spot as the best tornado movie out there.

Nowawdays, storm trackers have monster vehicles that clamp themselves to the dirt to protect themselves from the high-velocity winds – but in 1996, you just had trucks. That’s it, a couple of Ford 4×4 trucks and maybe an R.V. and that’s the entire team. When you watch that, you don’t think storm trackers, you think hey that’s Cousin Vinnie and Tommy coming to visit from Texas. You think family, which this movie clearly had a handle on. Half the time you are watching for the thrilling excitement from natural disasters, but that would be nothing without the all-star cast that treat each other like a true family. This movie did family right, and because of that, they also introduced a level of pure vulnerability from the characters that required unending courage to just do their job. It felt real and tangible, and it makes you forget about the flaws.

Is there flaws? Yes there is. Maybe not so much in 1996, but in almost 20 years, the movie has aged some. The tornadoes themselves are constructed by CGI and unfortunately they don’t look the best up close and personal. At least not in full-blown HD. The tones are there, the attitude and reactions are there, even the music is there, but any time you had CGI tornadoes, you could tell. In 1996, it looked miraculously perfect, but modern expectations carry modern disappointment. Fortunately enough, it won’t really matter, because you just love the characters and themes – it pulls you in the story in a way that you can really appreciate and admire.

The Good:

Twister is a film that is overall – a fantastic time at the movies. It holds up remarkably well after almost 20 years, despite a few problems here and there with the graphics. What you truly care about in the movie is the characters and tones – and if you notice, there is no dark, brooding filter needed to keep you on the edge of your seat – just good, unfiltered thrills.

The Bad:

The only real negative aspect I could find with the movie was just the graphics. It’s not a huge deal, like I said, but it is noticeable. I always watched this movie on VHS where it wouldn’t be so bad, but on Blu-Ray, it makes a difference – a difference that you can spot.

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015)

Spongebob-2

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Slightly false advertising.

Are you ready kids? I can’t hear you! Spongebob Squarepants has officially been on the air for 16 years. That’s impressive – not Simpsons impressive, but it’s getting there. I was still in elementary school when this show began – and I’m 27 now. I’ve seen many episodes of this show throughout my youth – and I stopped somewhere around the time the first movie came out. However, I had to go back to my nostalgia years to watch The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Movies are typically better than the show, so what better way than to check out the second movie in the franchise? It’s an interesting movie, I’ll give it that, but a little reminiscent of the first movie when it comes down to it.

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water stars our favorite group of cartoon characters who live in Bikini Bottom as they once again try desperately to save the secret formula to the beloved Krabby Patty. The thing is – when it goes missing, it’s not Plankton this time – it’s a pirate on “The Surface” who uses it to help his restaurant business on land. So the gang has to go to the surface to retrieve the formula, and to do that – they need super powers. Because…superpowers are cool and stuff.

The first thing you’ll realize with this film is that – you don’t need to know anything about the series to watch it. After 16 years, that’s impressive – because the same basic idea applies for each episode/season of the show. The film goes through a basic rundown of who the characters are and their entire purpose in the show – and then it plays out like a standalone movie. Say what you will about the show, I have to at least say that’s impressive. It gives plenty of shout-outs to longtime viewers of the franchise, as well as opens a doorway to newer audiences.

However, the film has a bit of a flaw in regards to the advertisements. The movie is called Sponge Out of Water, and most of the trailers show as much – but in reality, the characters are out of the water no longer than a typical episode of the show – the rest of it is fully cartoon (that’s over an hour). If you recall, the same basic thing happens in the first movie, the only difference is that instead of remaining cartoon characters, they transform into fully CGI models to fit in a little better with the live action. Is that a bad thing? Yes and no, the movie works fine as is, but you go in expecting one thing thanks to the ads, and you experience something else altogether – and that might throw a lot of people off.

That being said, the CGI was very unique and looked really good. You know it’s fake, obviously, but the quality of the graphics and animation was almost enough to make you think it’s partially real and just stop-motion oriented or something. It’s not, but believe me when I say it looks pretty unique – kids will definitely love this film. Now, I don’t think they’ll keep watching it until they are older, but as it is today, they’ll get a kick out of it, and that’s good too.

The Good:

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water does a really good job with the graphics and animation once the fellers get out of the water and onto the land. The Sponge in the title refers to the Fish out of Water subgenre, which doesn’t exactly apply here, but is still a lot of fun for what it is.

The Bad:

Mostly, the advertisement in this movie was more or less misleading. Spongebob is only out of the water for 20 minutes, give or take. The story is fine, but you’re left wondering when they’re actually going to venture out.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)

Kingsman

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Not PODUS’s Men.

I love spy movies and I always have. Back in the day, that’s where it was at. Where you have a number of unrealistic things transpiring, but no one really cares because it’s just a lot of fun, introduces a number of lovable characters, along with a love-to-hate villain with truly evil intentions – but at the same time, you like originality. You crave it. Which is why movies like that are only good for nostalgia purposes…until now. Kingsman: The Secret Service pays tribute to some of the spy movie greats of film’s past, but it also introduces it’s own spin on things – making it…quite the spectacle.

Meet Eggsy, an English punk that is always getting in trouble – you can tell by his punk-y hat and oversized jacket. Troublemakers like Eggsy don’t get a pass in life, or do they? You see, Colin Firth plays action hero Harry Hart in this film – the leader of a secret society known as the Kingsmen – which are basically super spies that Know. How. To. Fight. They basically train Eggsy and a number of other initiates on the act of being a gentlemen whilst also kicking major tail. Meanwhile, supervillain Samuel L. Jackson makes his lispy entrance as a genius billionaire hell bent on fixing a certain population problem.

Okay, so I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this movie – the trailers looked mighty interesting, but it wasn’t something I really ever heard about until it was actually out in theaters. So in essence, there really wasn’t any hype, and a good amount of hype is healthy because without advertisement, your theater room might be a little empty. That being said, weeks went by and the movie left theaters, but people continued to talk about it until the news eventually spread that a sequel was in the midst. So did I feel the need now to go see it? Absolutely. So what did I think…I kind of liked it…a lot.

I’ve always really enjoyed martial arts films, and the more creative you get with fights the more I’m typically game in general, but beyond that, Kingsman: The Secret Service offered a lot of great themes and shout outs to the classic spy genres while maintaining an original screenplay. Some of these fights might remind you of Kill Bill, while some of the scenes might remind you of other movies like Men in Black. Face it, the entire movie was that one scene in MIB where Will Smith was being handpicked as the best of the best of the best, sir! However, the overarching plot in this film was very original and felt natural to the structure and overtones of the movie itself. Which, by the way, is great praise. Martial arts and plot don’t usually go hand-in-hand…and this time it did.

The only complaint I might see someone having was the unbelievability of the thing. Obviously, everything in this film was not only over-exaggerated, but it thrived in that fact unashamed. When movies do that, when they know they are ridiculous but keep doing it anyway – you have a winner in my opinion. If it’s trying to be serious but failing miserably, than the opposite exists. So basically, if you take this movie seriously, you fail at life.

The Good:

This movie is unadulterated fun from beginning to end. I won’t even say anything more than that.

The Bad:

Anyone that takes this movie seriously and then complains that it’s ridiculous.

Area 51 (2015)

Area-51

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.

Oren Peli is the man, yes oh yes, I was a fan, until he made Area 51, and now Oren Peli I am DONE.

Who doesn’t like a little cheer now and then? Anyways, when Paranormal Activity first came out, it wasn’t too long after that when news came around that Oren Peli would be following up with another found-footage film shooting after another paranormal creature – aliens. That it would focus on a bunch of kids trying to break into the legendary Area 51. I couldn’t contain my excitement. I loved PA, even if the rest of the films in the franchise sucked – I was still a fan of the guy that made it happen to begin with, the vision of Oren Peli. So while the rest of the movies in the Paranormal Activity franchise were released, each one getting worse than the last, I retained hope that this movie would bring it back…did it? NO. Area 51 is a big pile of poo.

What makes it so bad, you ask? Well let’s first focus on the story – which as I mentioned above – focuses on a few teens as they make a plan to break into the highest held secret in the country…maybe even world – Area 51. They even had a plan – they were going to steal a pass key, and figure out how to bypass through all the detectors in the desert that catches them red handed. They just want to know the truth, ya know? But wouldn’t you know it – they get in too deep.

I love the stories surrounding Area 51. As far as conspiracy theories go, the stuff surrounding Roswell, UFOS, and A51 are stories I’ve never found dull or repetitive…but something very elaborate with enough info to keep you keened in on everything. That question what if is something that has filled me with wonder. One thing I’ve never experienced when it came to aliens, though, is fear. Oren Peli likes to make horror films, and there’s simply nothing scary about this film, what happens in it, or even anything to do with the concept – yet he feels the obligation to make it scary – and he fails at every turn. Here I am trying desperately to be interested in the film, and it keeps trying to make things creepy. Well stop it, and just make it fun.

Why isn’t it scary? Well take it this way – people are naturally scared of ghosts. Even if you don’t believe in one, if one suddenly showed up in your house you’d be scarred for life and probably would have soiled yourself at some point. That stuff can haunt your waking life, but aliens are just fascinating. That’s all they’ve ever been – the scariest I’ve ever seen aliens was in Signs, and while I admit the film was fantastic and creepy – that also had to do with the director’s vision and the actors’ ability to look genuinely frightened. In fact, Signs did something this film should have done – make you think. Signs focused on the idea that it might be aliens and made your mind swim – while Area 51 just said its aliens right off the back. When you do that, you have a high demand to actually see stuff. I mean it’s Area 51, you can’t just stand outside the gate and be happy with that for a movie – they had to go inside – and because they had to go inside, you have to be able see everything…and it doesn’t allow your brain to work for itself

So anyways, I did want to mention some of the scenery in the beginning was great – the one and only thing you actually believe about this movie is that these guys are actually on location at the right place. They covered some actual theories and stories which is great – but since this isn’t a documentary, none of that…and I mean none of that actually mattered in the slightest.

The Good:

The best part of Area 51 was the concept – plain and simple. They covered a lot of bases as far as conspiracy theories and legends surrounding the base – and you believe they are actually in the right desert on the right road.

The Bad:

Everything else, unfortunately. Once they get in, you can’t really believe it’s Area 51. It looks like a game of DOOM or QUAKE with far too many giveaway shots. It doesn’t let your brain think for itself, and it tries way too hard to be a horror movie.

Maggie (2015)

Maggie

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Zombification: Terminal Cancer

Zombies and Arnold Schwarzenegger seems like a match made in heaven – something that would have been epic back in the mid ’90s. Even today, I wouldn’t mind seeing how the man of muscles himself would deal with the walking dead, but as great as that basic concept is, Maggie is much more dramatic and emotionally driven than I thought it would be. The real question is…does a zombie movie work as a drama? We already know it’s not terrible as a comedy, or even romantic comedy – but how about drama?

Maggie centers on the life of Maggie – the daughter of Wade (Schwarzenegger) and coincidentally also was recently diagnosed with a virus that kills the patient and makes them cannibalistic creatures after death…aka zombies. However, the process is really slow – we’re talking several weeks, so her dad decides to take care of her as the zombification process takes effect.

First thing’s first. The movie is really…really…slow. They purposefully do this to really magnify the emotions from, well, everyone in the film as everything transpires. To be fair, the emotions displayed in the movie are done really well – as is the transformation by Abigail Breslin. All of the things that technically happen in the movie are done well – but I can’t exactly say it’s what I wanted to see from the movie. Instead, what this movie resembles instead – is a movie about a girl suffering through terminal cancer – and the family wants nothing more than to make her life the best it could be before her passing. We’ve seen cancer movies before – this is exactly like that – just with a zombie theme…take it or leave it.

I don’t want to say anything bad, because most of the flaws that I found with the film lie with my expectations. My expectations say Arnold Schwarzenegger needs to grab the nearest shotgun and blast away all the zombies as he tries to find a cure for his daughter – but it’s not like that at all. Because of that, I’m starting to question myself as to Schwarzenegger’s overall importance. Could anyone else fill the role? Absolutely. Schwarzenegger is one of a kind, and that just isn’t so with this film. So as far as expectations go…I’m a little disappointed, I have to say.

However, the movie does feel zombie-themed. It’s dark, brooding, and honestly a bit disgusting when it comes to Abigail Breslin decaying for weeks right in front of you. It does a wonderful job displaying some possible scenarios if zombification were actually a thing – and how your body would experience the changes – that was downright the best part of the movie. It’s not everything, mind you, but that’s really the reason that you’re watching. Most movies have people turning to zombies in a matter of minutes, but several weeks? That’s unexplored territory, and for the most part they did a great job with it.

I know I complained about the slowness, but all things considered, this is a father/daughter story. His love for her is really what drives the film. There may be moments where he’s not even in the movie for a short period of time, but his love for his daughter is always center stage.

Here’s where I’m confused – I’m not entirely sure what audience would benefit from this movie the most. You see, it’s deep and emotional – so there are some female audiences that might appreciate that – but it’s also dark and brooding, sometimes really violent…which is more like a guy’s film. These two tones really clash with each other, though, and not in a good way. It’s interesting, to say the least, but I’m not really sure who would benefit from this.

The Good:

From a technical standpoint, they did a lot of things right – they displayed the emotions and transformation amazingly and creatively.

The Bad:

The two major tones in the film – emotional/deep and dark/brooding/violent – don’t seem to really match up all that well, and any expectations you might have for the movie might leave you a bit disappointed.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Avengers-2

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Darker…slightly confusing.

2015 is bound to be a crazy ride…starting now. Picking a “most-anticipated” film of the year proved to be a bit of a difficult task for me, but I eventually settled on Star Wars. As far as summer films go, I think Avengers: Age of Ultron took the cake, though. The first movie was just so epic that it changed the way movies were made…in a way at least. There was nothing like it, and we were promised several more years of the same…that’s insane! So, saying I was excited for this film would be a bit of an understatement. Did the film do my self-inflicted hype justice? In a way, absolutely, and in a way…not so much.

Avengers: Age of Ultron starts off with the Avengers already working together – attempting to locate Loki’s staff. Apparently, they’ve been trying to take down Hydra since the last time we’ve seen them. Loki’s staff, of course, contains an “infinity stone”, which is something so powerful it basically thinks for itself. So Tony Stark decides to create artificial intelligence in a continued effort to save the world – however…that backfires on him as Ultron is born. A version of Tony’s suit that can think for himself, and unfortunately decides hostility is the true way to save humanity from themselves. The only people that might be able to stop him are the Avengers…along with newcomers Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch.

YEE WHOO! The Avengers are back, but are they better than ever? I don’t think I can say that right now, but I can at least say it’s another great time at the theater with some of our favorite heroes – and that fact alone is almost enough to just leave it at that…but blast it…I can’t. This long-awaited super sequel took a plunge into a surprising depth of darkness that was a little dry on the comedic side of things that we’re used to seeing from this group. That doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing, of course, so I’ll ignore that. What I instead want to talk about is the complexities of this film that seem to be more apparent than the first film.

There’s actually quite a bit of side-stories for our lesser focused-on characters like Hawkeye and Black Widow – but every single character had their own internal agenda and motivation behind exactly why they are an Avenger in the first place, and why they will continue to fight to continue their journey as heroes. At the same time, these stories ultimately get to be a bit of a hassle to juggle. Every character has their own stories, including the two newer recruits and Ultron himself. There’s just so many stories going on at the same time, and it gets to be confusing at times.

However, part of the reason you watch these movies are for the majestic teamwork and choreography – how these guys function individually, in separate teams, and as a whole. That takes a lot of creative thinking, and I think Joss Whedon has done it again as far as creativity goes. But alas, there are a couple of things that I can’t help but mention.

First thing’s first. I love James Spader’s voice, but I’m tired of his attitude remaining exactly the same as to every other role he’s ever done. The more Ultron spoke, the more I heard Spader, not Ultron – and that’s just because of those tiny little remarks James Spader always adds at the end of conversation…either out of humorous sarcasm or otherwise…and for some reason I didn’t like that with Ultron. Secondly, didn’t Tony Stark quit the Iron Man thing in Iron Man 3? Remember the clean slate program? Did I miss something, because suddenly he’s Iron Man again, and we just accept that.

The Good:

Hey, let’s not nit-pick. This is The Avengers, and that fact alone makes this movie entertaining. I also have to give it to this film by making it work perfectly as a direct sequel to the first Avengers, as well as the second Captain America, and as an addition to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. All while maintaining an independent movie experience.

The Bad:

All in all, as fun as the movie was, it wasn’t as good as the first movie. The darkness of the film dulled out what could have been really funny moments, the artificial intelligence taking over the planet has been seen before, there were a lot of stories going back and forth, and in the beginning – there were too many villains. It’s great and I’d still buy this as soon as it comes out, but I think it got caught up in the curse of the first sequel.

Paddington (2014)

Paddington

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Cute and stupid.

There are a select group of individuals out there. Picture them if you will. These people don’t exactly appreciate film for the right reasons, but nevertheless, they visit the theater with one goal in mind – to scout the movies looking for the fluffiest, cutest flicks available. If they aren’t cute, then they are horrible movies. These people have become a bit of a problem when it comes to movies, because suddenly, you have a higher demand for cute factors, which has no place in film. It’s called substance people, it’s not that complicated – Paddington is just another cute movie – but is there any good left in the rubble? Sort of, but not really.

What is Paddington about, you ask? Pretty simple, Paddington is the name of a speaking bear…no, not Ted, who moves to London to find the adventurer who taught his parents English…or something like that. Only, what was promised to be a warm welcome turned into something a little more hostile, but cute and friendly Paddington just wants a place to live…because he is a freeloader. Meanwhile, the evil Cruella DeVille…or…I mean Millicent (Nicole Kidman) wants the bear to complete her dastardly taxidermy collection.

Yes, yes – Paddington is a cute little bear and has the best of intentions, but is that all that’s really required for a movie to be considered good? Not in my opinion, at least. However, it does have a few things going for it…but I’ll get to that in a minute. I want to first mention why it doesn’t add up. When this bear moves to London, he arrives at a train station. Think about that for a second, a busy train station with a wild bear in the middle of it, and everyone notices and then ignores the fact that there is a bear in the station. Okay, fine – it’s a kid’s movie, but after the fact, a human makes a call saying they have a bear visiting them, and the person on the other line sounds absolutely stunned to hear that. You can’t have people that notice a bear and not care, and then have people that actually act normal and then care…it doesn’t make sense. I don’t care that it’s a movie and things are different, but I do care about continuity.

There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense, including why this family of bears have the ability to speak, but in a vast forest where they’ll meet other bears, why those don’t speak English too? Like I said, movie science doesn’t have to match up to real science, but it does have to meet up with its own. But hey, it’s a kids film…and for some reason, kids movies don’t seem to think they have to abide by the same basic rules and structure any other movie has to follow. All it is now is lights, colors, and a heck of a lot of physical humor. I mean, a whole lot.

The Good:

Believe it or not, the physical humor in this movie was definitely its strongest. It’s to be expected in any fun kids movie, but what I actually realized was the material wasn’t that bad. I found myself legitimately laughing at some of the things that this bear does. I figure that has something to do with the material’s originality. Parts of the plot seem borrowed from various sources, but the actual jokes weren’t terrible, so guess what – kids will laugh and laugh.

The Bad:

The worst part of all this? Nicole Kidman’s character. Every kids movie seems to feel an inescapable obligation to always have a “bad guy”. I don’t really understand why, either. Paddington already had a personal goal, and was hitting obstacles along the way. The story was already set in stone, and suddenly, there’s a bad guy thrown in the mix and it all feels imbalanced because of that. Sure, her story gets a little better along the way, but a majority of it was completely unneeded.

The Voices (2015)

Voices

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Interesting perception…weird.

Once in a good long while, you run into a movie that takes you aback for a moment. Not in a good way, but not necessarily in a bad way either. More like in a way that forces you to collect your sanity from the ground…where it was probably left during the viewing of said film. It’s usually so different from what you’re used to that if you’re a critic like me, you might need to freshen up your critiquing skills – because this particular movie was a bit of a challenge. So, if you’ve seen The Voices starring Ryan Reynolds – you probably understand where I’m coming from. If you haven’t seen it, I don’t feel super comfortable telling you that you need to either. It’s a movie that will either cross your path or not…and my ability to determine whether its good or bad is, in the end, kind of pointless…but I’ll try anyway.

The Voices is really about a man that’s crazy, but you see and feel the world through his eyes. In this world, everything is so chipper, bright, and colorful and everyone loves him…but in reality, it’s dark, strange, and everyone thinks he is a little off. Any story involving a main character hearing voices also seems to fall into the territory of psychotic and murder…which this eventually does as well. The way they go about it, though, is very different. You understand how crazy and demented he is, but you understand how his mentality is separate from his intentions at the same time…it’s honestly kind of smart.

Here’s what I had a problem with…movies like this that mix and mash tones don’t sit well with me. They feel imbalanced because that’s what they are. They are imbalanced because the main character himself is completely imbalanced…so yes, it’s smart. However, smart movies don’t always work for me because I’m also a guy built from simplicity – what is your main reason for watching this movie? Is there really a purpose? These questions end up receiving an answer of “no”, and because of that, I had trouble enjoying this film…I just didn’t understand why I was watching it. It’s a dark humor type of movie, and those are always touch and go. Whenever you find yourself in these dark comedies, pay attention…the way these movies typically play out and eventually end is commonly similar and leave you feeling a little empty and maybe dissatisfied, and the same applied for The Voices.

I feel bittersweet and almost flawed because I don’t always get the same out of some movies that others do. I understand and appreciate the hidden smartness of the movie, but these movies also tend to leave a bad aftertaste in my mouth after I watch them and all I can really say is that in the end, I don’t care to ever see it again. If anyone is like me, I think it’s important to inform them how it was for me. Reynolds, of course, did a phenomenal job in his role, and knew how to perform his scenes of oddities rather splendidly…but for me that’s just not enough to get me to warrant a return.

The Good:

Direction/Perception: This is a smart film that created mirroring scenarios between an imbalanced character and an imbalanced direction in overall tones. By taking the route of seeing the world through the crazy man’s eyes, the film transformed a seemingly typical overdone story and made it something special.

The Bad:

Entertainment: For me personally, I wasn’t entertained. It was dark humor, and not specifically the kind I like. It was the kind that leaves a bad taste in my mouth and ultimately leaves me dissatisfied because after all is said and done…there’s not too much of a point to this movie and not too much of a point to watch it at all.

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

50-Shades-of-Grey

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Abusive and shallow.

I normally avoid reviewing any type of movie that is shamelessly made to simply arouse its audience. I don’t see the point in doing so, and typically speaking, it’s a little awkward for me to say the least. More than anything though, these films are definitely geared towards a smaller general audience than most films – while everyone else is probably going to hate it. Fifty Shades of Grey, for example, was clearly just adapted to a movie because the book itself sold more than it should have – and so the movies wanted a piece of the cut as well. I’ve heard a lot of bad things about both the book and the film, and because it has gathered so much controversy, I find myself in an unfortunate obligation to provide my own two cents into the mix.

Many of you aren’t even sure about what this plot is, but have heard that is is derived from its original source: A Twilight fanfiction – other than that, most of you are clueless. That’s because there isn’t really any plot, it’s about Anastasia Steele, a student of English Lit who has a really big assignment – interview billionaire Christian Grey. It is at this interview where the two fall desperately in lust with each other, and all the hi-jinks of misconstrued BDSM pursue.

Out of everything this film has to offer, I find that the most important to state is the title. Fifty Shades of Grey gives off the impression that somewhere in this film lies depth. First of all, you could see it as not just a black or white film, but a deep film with all the complexities in between. OR, because the main character’s name is Grey, it implies that his character is infinitely complex and diverse as well…but neither is correct. Everything about this film screams the opposite of depth. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so absolutely shallow in my entire life. Christian Grey isn’t complex. He has a one-track mind type of guy from the beginning of the movie all the way to the end. Everything he says and does is in reference to his kinky nature. Even when we are offered the ability to learn what he does for a living, the answer is simply tossed to the side as if it doesn’t matter. Give us a different side to him…give him meaning. Give him a life…nope. There’s nothing special about him.

The second thing I need to mention is abuse. It’s been stated everywhere by now that the BDSM presented in this movie isn’t true to real dominant/submissive lifestyles. That instead, it is abusive. From my understanding, that’s truer for the actual events in the book than it is in the film. Nevertheless, I do see some abuse. It’s hard for me to really state everything that is absolutely wrong, because I’m not exactly a BDSM expert…to me, the entire concept is abusive, but some things that happen in this movie are inherently wrong, like the way he treats her in general. He gives her ultimatums, stalks her, threatens her – and this is all done in all seriousness…because that’s just who he is, when in reality, it’s all just supposed to be done for fun. This was too serious. Which is why I can see the abuse.

Of course, the story wasn’t trying to suggest abuse and downright sexual harassment and rape is cool or anything. Of course not. From the get go, it was just trying to arouse its audience, whether that be the readers or movie watchers. The generic idea of – let’s make as many sexy scenes as possible by two attractive leads…the rest doesn’t matter – is the exact reason why this film is absolute horse crap. It’s mainly shallow, and without any real depth or substance, you honestly lose any real reason to continue watching it.

The Good:

I’m trying very hard to come up with something that’s actually good about this movie, and I came up with two things. One – production wise, the film looks nice. It is visually appealing and the music works pretty good. Two – even though this isn’t really saying that much, the actors did really good with what they were given…which was crap. I know it’s hard to really notice their ability to act under such a horrific script, but I promise it’s there. Anastasia’s character, specifically, probably had the most depth and range – so she was probably the best out of everyone. Take that as you will.

The Bad:

Honestly? Read the rest of my review – it all comes down to the fact that this is infinitely shallow, promotes abuse, and is mostly just created to make money and arouse viewers.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)

Hot-Tub-Time-Machine-2

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Stupid, but okay.

When you have a film with a title of Hot Tub Time Machine, there’s simply no way on earth you need to take it seriously – and yet it happens. From its origins, this series was meant to be taken as it is – which is stupid with inside jokes pertaining to period humor. That’s it, but you get everyone calling out how horrible it is…which is fair – it is stupid…but I actually somewhat enjoyed the second film. Time travel, specifically, is an interesting concept to follow into franchise sequels, and the way Hot Tub Time Machine 2 did it…is a bit reminiscent of other time travel flicks like Back to the Future. Both in direction, ideas, and how they describe the science. So what is it about?

Well, in the second film, our group is back (minus John Cusack), and are in a bit of a bind. Their successful lives are taking a turn and when Lou (Rob Corddry) is killed in the present, they have to go to the future to save his life – because the killer is from the future…in a different timeline. I can’t explain the science, just watch it, they steal Back to the Future’s explanation anyways.

When you get right down to it – that’s the plot. They have to go to the future to find Lou’s killer…whoever that may be. Now at this point, I was extremely worried about the film. It didn’t have a strong opening and absolutely required knowledge of every scene in the first film…but once it got into the future, I was okay with it. While the previous movie focused on period humor, making jokes about the past with knowledge of the future – this film’s setting was dealt in the future. Like in Back to the Future 2, it instead focused on an idea of where the world is going…in an entertaining, over-exaggerated light – specifically speaking…the direction of the media and what it will eventually take to excite an audience. That’s nothing new though – we’ve seen similar interpretations in several futuristic and alternate movies…even including The Hunger Games.

This was a comedy, though, so I have to address how funny it was or wasn’t. Again, this deals with a lot of stupid humor, just like the first one did – but I have to admit I didn’t laugh as much. As cool as it is to focus on where the world is heading for the future, the audience just doesn’t connect as much with it unless they go to the past. People are familiar with things that have actually happened, so to make fun of that with several inside jokes is what truly made the first film better. Not the characters or writing, but the attitude towards changing the past without repercussions and just saying….screw it. I laughed with the first movie, I didn’t with the second. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself…I just didn’t physically laugh, and I think that’s important for a comedy.

I will say, without spoiling anyone, that the ending was the best part of this film. For several reasons. In fact, waiting for the events in the end pretty much made the rest of the movie worth it. The end, by the way, did have me laughing.

The Good:

People can complain all they want about Hot Tub Time Machine 2, the fact is I’ve seen worse. I watched this movie without complaint and appreciated its explanation on where the world is heading, even if it was all just a gag.

The Bad:

First of all, no one asked for this movie to happen. Second of all, the best parts of this film were taken from other sources…then again, I don’t think they were ever claiming to be original. Finally, the jokes just didn’t work as well, because these films draw strength from making inside jokes about the past because they are from the future – going further into the future just switches that around, giving the people in the future the ability to make an inside joke…and the audience is unfortunately left out of the inner circle…so it wasn’t that funny.

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