High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008)

HSM3

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Definitely better production.

So, today I watched the entire High School Musical trilogy. I did. aaand I liked them, so sue me. You know what I noticed? It was touch and go here and there, but in general, each movie got better, ending in a theatrical release for the third movie…which by the way, is really rare…it’s usually the other way around. The first two go to theater and the third is a TV movie that no one cares about…so if I’m being honest, I honestly have no idea why there was never a fourth movie with an all new cast, it only makes sense. At the same time, the story and legend of the films does a good job wrapping up here, and I’m glad they did, because like it or not, High School Musical 3: Senior Year did a good job.

The third and final film in the franchise obviously takes place senior year at East High, and with any other movie dealing with high school seniors, this also deals with the dilemmas of choosing the right college, and what that means for couples in a relationship. For their last ever musical, they decide to do it on themselves in their senior year of high school and the real problems that they are already facing every day.

The first thing you’ll realize with this movie is that it has a remarkably different tone than the previous two. That would be because of the higher movie budget and expectations. It wasn’t allowed to feel like an inky dink Disney Channel Original Movie anymore, now it had the obligation to feel like an official theatrical Disney movie, which even though you don’t think it would, presents a lot of pressure for everyone involved. Obviously, they couldn’t get it to perfection because it’s a third film in a franchise, but in my opinion…they took all of the flaws of the first two movies and corrected them substantially.

One of my complains about the first movie was that they used a different man’s voice for Troy’s singing scenes. Now, that issue was fixed in the second movie, but then the second movie also had way too much focus on the comedic characters and not enough on the High School side of things. The third movie took things back to the high school and it got back to being a musical about a musical. Not only that, but they took it a step further and actually showed us the songs of the movie in a very unique way that you wouldn’t think of. In my humble opinion, the choices made in this movie pertaining to direction were really smart.

I liked the songs in the second movie, but I didn’t think they really upstaged the first movie’s selection…and I think the third did just that. These new songs are more modern, they are written better both lyrically and melodically, and the dances that accompany them are simply mesmerizing. I’m not afraid to say that I really enjoyed the third movie…but I have one confession I have to make. All of the things that make this great in my opinion are all based off of comparisons to the other movies…as a movie all on its own…it’s really hard to say.

I still hold firm that the songs are really fun and the look alone is really great and more professional, but I’m sorry…it’s just inconsistent. You never just see a third movie go to theater. The reason why is because people who were unsure about the series may start here, because this movie actually went to theaters…which is fine, but they wouldn’t have a single clue as to what was happening once they watched it. There’s no real character development or even depth because that stuff was introduced to the audience already. All this movie really is – is an attempt to end things with a bang! That can serve as a real problem.

The Good:

Those of you who are fans of the High School Musical franchise, check this movie out! It takes every problem you may have ever had with the series and vanquishes them before your eyes.

The Bad:

If you are unsure about the franchise and are thinking about starting here because this is the one that actually went to theaters – stop. Your experience will be significantly altered because you won’t really know what’s happening or how they got to this point. Watch the other movies for context.

The Random:

One of my brothers once asked me to come up with my own “The Boys are Back” dance choreography routine in order to make a fun little video. I didn’t do it.

High School Musical 2 (2007)

HSM2

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Better and Worse.

The High School Musical franchise is one that not a whole lot of people enjoy…that’s clear. What’s more, it’s understandable, but I still hold firm that they aren’t as bad as people put them out to be. I honestly think that people expected them to be absolutely horrid, so low and behold, they turned out to be to everyone…I just think they need to be taken a little more seriously and given a solid chance. They aren’t exactly my favorite movies ever, nor my favorite musicals at that, but I do think each and every one of them have a lot of good to offer. High School Musical 2 is a tricky movie, because it definitely hit the right chord in respect to fixing what the first had wrong, but at the same time…it botched something else up that’s almost equally as bad.

This time, the East High Wildcats are on Summer vacation, and their location to gather collectively around is an expensive summer resort that Sharpay’s family owns. Most have to do work because it is a summer job, but they don’t mind because it’s a very lucrative opportunity. Anyways, Sharpay has her own agenda of getting with Troy…and what’s more…it’s slowly seeming to work because Troy is worried about his future in college…which is taking him away from his high school sweetheart, Gabriella.

I want to first talk about how this moved light years beyond the first movie, because that is really important. I was honestly impressed with what they did for themselves here in only a year after the first movie. Mainly speaking, Zac Efron actually sang for his role and it finally looked real. Seriously, the first movie was like the whole Aunt Beru thing in Star Wars, but more often, and more obvious. It’s not only that, but those that were in the first movie that didn’t sing…sang in the sequel. Collectively, they did what they should have done in the first movie here. Then there was the dancing, it was clear that there were more diverse song and dance styles in this film. The dances alone were actually about five times better and more sharp than the first. The visuals and production value were also miles better than the first movie…so why did I only rate it a couple notches better than the first?

One word. Plot. High School Musical 2 falls victim to what countless family and kids movie fall victim to all the time…taking the comedic roles and making them more important than the leads. Sharpay and Ryan are fine characters, but for some reason, the movie seemed to be more about them than anyone else. They all went to Sharpay’s family business, Ryan needed to feel like he was important, Sharpay was trying to get with Troy the whole time…it had a lot of focus on them, and it just wasn’t that great. I liked the location as well, but the problem with it was that it wasn’t high school. The actual high school building of the first film was more or less a character, and an important one at that.

The title of the first movie was a play on words. It’s a musical about a musical, and that wasn’t true for this either. There was a talent show, but that was about it. It isn’t called Sharpay’s Talent Show Extraveganza, it’s called High School Musical 2, and I can’t help but feel a little gipped in that regard.

As for the songs, they weren’t bad. In fact, for the most part, they were just about as good as the first. A couple were even better, but I think in the end I probably prefer the first film for the songs…and that could be because the second one wasn’t put together as smart as the first. Who knows.

The Good:

Good or bad, High School Musical 2 definitely fits well into the franchise, as it continues with a lot of catchy, toe-tapping songs as well as even better dancing. It was clearly a higher-budget and bigger production than the first, and they did the right thing by allowing Zac Efron to sing this time.

The Bad:

My god, this was a Sharpay-centric movie. I don’t think I realized just how true that was until I saw it again, but that really annoys me, because I don’t care for her character.

The Random:

There is a special feature on the DVD that teaches viewers how to dance to “Work it Out”. I watched this special feature, and I learned how to do this dance. I have since forgotten how, but you know what…it’s not easy…at all.

High School Musical (2006)

HSM1

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Shush, it’s catchy.

I remember when I first saw High School Musical, but it actually surprises me that it was a 2006 movie…because I still remember watching it for the first time on TV as plain as day. It was just getting popular and they were always showing repeats of it on the Disney Channel and I thought I’d give it a try…low and behold it hooked me too…and I was a senior in High School…and a guy. I urged my family to watch it as well, and of course they had their doubts, but they too joined the High School Musical club…and there is a genuinely good reason for that…but at the same time, there are genuinely negative elements that shouldn’t be ignored either, especially with the first film in the franchise.

The story is pretty simple, your average, every day basketball superstar, Troy Bolton, met this cute girl while on a break from school, and it turns out they go to the same school. While there, Troy begins to question his loyalties and passions…does he want to play the championship basketball game, or does he want to sing in the next school musical with the girl he met, Gabriella? Whatever the case, change is apparently the worst thing in the world, because no matter what he wants to do, judgment follows him from every direction and he has to make a decision fast.

I really do believe that there are good things about this film, but at the same thing there are bad things. It does feel like a complete rip-off of Grease…at first. The entire foundation of the movie is the same exact foundation for the other…so I’m sure that there was some inspiration from both…however…the rest of the plot is more or less its own…that being said, it still is pumped full of predictable, cliché malarky…but that’s not the worst thing about it. It’s also not the worst thing in terms of production value, which is clearly cheap. It’s not even the fact that the acting is quite mediocre and very “Disney Channel Original Movie”-like. Instead, the worst thing about this movie…is their really strange choice to have some other guy do the singing instead of Zac Efron.

In my opinion, the choice to switch Troy’s voice for the songs was a really bad one. They did this because they wanted a tenor voice to match the character, but it doesn’t really sound like Efron…especially because Efron sings for both the second and third movie. I personally like his singing voice, and think that it adds to the movies better, but the guy’s voice he has in this film belongs to a Drew Seeley. It’s not that he has a bad singing voice, but to me it’s cheap and obvious and really ruins the movie.

The rest of the movie I more or less enjoy. It has a pretty bland and overused plot of staying true to yourself and not falling victim to the status quo, and of course, not caring what others think about you…but that’s really not the main reason people watch the movie…they watch it for the singing. As far as musicals go, I’m usually a fan of, at most, half of the songs. For some reason or other, I love all of the songs in the movie. They may not be the best written songs the whole time, but my god are they catchy. So sue me. I give credit where credit is due, and they have some catchy, diverse songs and forgive me for saying this, but fun dance numbers.

The Good:

There is a solid reason why High School Musical got the sequels it did, the popularity it did, and the career that Zac Efron ultimately got afterwards. The songs in the movie alone are enough to keep people watching the franchise, even if they aren’t the best written songs in the world…they are very catchy and a lot of fun.

The Bad:

A little too much of the footing of the movie looks way too much like it is copying off of Grease. That wouldn’t be the end of the world, but the film is also very cheap-looking and Zac Efron’s singing voice was that of another actor all together, which really ruins the experience for me, personally.

The Embarrassment:

I still kind of know all of the songs by heart. For all of the movies in the franchise.

John Tucker Must Die (2006)

John-Tucker-Must-Die

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Three women scorned

A little bit ago, I reviewed a movie called The Other Woman. It was about these ladies taking revenge on this cheating, womanizing man. The plot alone sounded remarkably similar to John Tucker Must Die, but I could tell right away that the main difference between the film was flow and direction. The Other Woman took way too long to get to the point because it wanted to focus on character introductions, developments, and interactions before it got to the primary and secondary plots…now character development isn’t really bad, but a movie like this requires the plot to get to the point and quick. For an example of how to do it right, we turn now to the plot of John Tucker Must Die.

Taking place in high school, we have John Tucker, who is basically the hottie with a body in the entire school. This whole film bases itself on the idea that popularity transforms peoples minds on who you are and because you are cool…the stupid things you do are also cool. So when he cheats on three girls, they decide to take out revenge on him…but their attempts just make him look cooler. They decide the only way to get back at him is to break his heart. Their method? Transform a neutral student into the girl of his dreams, and then rip his heart out from inside him when the time is right.

This is where they did absolutely everything right in terms of flow and direction. They introduced the girls and the plot right away. The character development was introduced throughout the film like it should have been…it just felt so natural, and believe it or not, it wasn’t as predictable as you might think it is. There are elements here and there which you’re like…okay yeah that’s obvious, but the rest of it and how things will turn out for John Tucker…isn’t as easy to predict.

I also really liked the inclusion of a skewed, over-exaggerated look on popularity. There’s no way that one popular guy in school could get the whole male student body to wear women’s thongs because he did…but because they did things like that in the movie, it was able to make fun of itself and somehow make light of a serious problem that teens are forced to accept every day. Popularity shouldn’t be the deciding factor for everything…and it often is…people just end up acting stupid and they end up regretting things they could easily avoid.

Is this the best movie in the world? Not by a landslide. But there are things about the movie that feel unique and original to itself and that’s never a bad thing. The overall tone is a bit childish and ultimately dumb, but in my opinion, it’s a kind of dumb that you can sit back and enjoy just because.

The Good:

John Tucker Must Die has a level of humor that at least makes the film feel like it stands alone among other movies like it. It also does a pretty good job at progressing the story and making its point crystal clear.

The Bad:

I’m not sure many people really care about the movie because it doesn’t make a substantial impact on the audience. It’s childish and dumb, and the laughs it does give are only temporary. In the end, the movie will end up collecting dust on your shelf.

The Random:

Director Betty Thomas referred to all the actors by their characters’ names, since, she claims, she couldn’t remember their real names, and she wanted to think of them as their character. When she forgot their characters’ names, she’d simply refer to them as “person”.

Life as We Know It (2010)

Life-as-We-Know-It

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Practically ‘Knocked Up’

We now live in an age of film where we just have to sit back and accept the fact that some movies are just going to follow an overused structure and there’s nothing we can do about it. We have to accept that originality is turning into a thing of the past. Apparently, we also have to accept that actresses like Katherine Heigl are just going to do the same thing…pretty much…just because she can. I’m not saying this is Knocked Up, but Life as We Know It follows the same basic idea and no, there really isn’t anything you can do about that. Once you know that going in, go ahead and enjoy it for what it is if you can.

Unexpected kids can mean more than one thing, as this film proves. Apparently if you have a couple of awesome friends, you can leave them your kid in the unlikely event of your death…which is exactly what happens to Holly and Messer. Their best friends up and die all of a sudden, leaving them with their cute young daughter, Sophie. There’s only one problem…they absolutely hate each other and were never expecting to be legally connected for 18 years. Through raising a child together, they learn their best and worst attributes and begin to transform for Sophie.

I’m not entirely sure how many comedies there are out there about people having to raise a young child out of the blue…because they are all over the place. This one strikes a chord with Knocked Up mostly because of Heigl’s involvement. There are clear differences, but the problem is that…the heart and soul of the movie is remarkably the same exact thing. I won’t ruin it for those of you that are retarded, just know that as soon as the movie starts…and even before that…it is 100% predictable and cliché. Take that as you will.

The one weird element that the film apparently holds is the strange, unnatural flow between the comedy and the drama. Compared to other comedies, this had some really strong moments that will really connect with an audience and make them laugh out loud…and then it gets really dramatic. A lot of comedies are usually ‘dramedies’, but there was something about the writing in this movie that just felt abrupt when they shifted gears…almost bi-polar. Both sides of the spectrum I think were technically executed well on their own…it’s just the transitions that I had a problem with.

On the other hand, I actually really liked the chemistry between the characters. The transforming chemistry between hatred, respect, and love between Heigl and Duhamel is done a lot better than what they’re given credit for. Not only that, but the kooky neighbors are also very funny and they make the movie so much better than it could have been. As far as characters go here, this movie did things right. They also had a lot of success portraying the random pains of childcare beyond the cliché problems like diaper changing and whatnot. There is some originality here that will connect with other parents. That originality saves this film from going underwater.

The Good:

This is a very funny movie for those parents that had their ‘surprise’ kid moments. The ability to execute different ideas about childcare is done very well here.

The Bad:

Transitions between comedy and drama are way too abrupt and really distract the viewer, taking them out of the moment. Also, Heigl’s involvement is a little too reminiscent of Knocked Up, which may also distract the viewer further. Finally…it’s just really predictable and cliché throughout.

The Random:

For some reason, they decided to complain about the difficulties in taking off a babies diaper…everyone knows that’s the easy part. It’s not easy putting one of those things on. I’m just saying.

The Other Woman (2014)

The-Other-Woman

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Women Power, Unite!

To be perfectly honest, I’ve never heard of The Other Woman before I saw it. I may have seen a trailer for it before, but it skittered out of my brain shortly after I saw that…so you knew I was in trouble when I decided to see it regardless. It’s not a terrible, rambunctious film, but it has issues impressing its audience. The real shocker is how it managed to get a good cast. I mean…they got so many recognizable faces and even someone from HBO’s Game of Thrones. Let’s just say the casting doesn’t make the most sense given the plot of the movie…which isn’t much.

Let me introduce you to our characters. You have Carly (Cameron Diaz), Kate (Leslie Mann), and Amber (Kate Upton). Three different women with three very different personalities that have one common denominator…they are all unknowingly dating the same man. When Carly figures it out, she and the two girls join together in a plot to ruin the man’s unfaithful life. Oh yeah, and there’s also another plot about a bank robbery or something.

I mention that bank robbery plot because amidst everything else, you are randomly given this…plot about embezzlement from an off-shore bank account that feels so out of place that it comes up behind you and surprises you. You’re watching a funny revenge movie about three girls that are out to get this guy, and suddenly this random plot shows up out of the blue. I honestly was so surprised that I had a hard time following the plot after that point. It should have just stuck to what it knew and kept it simple. That plot was no where near needed and it kind of ruined everything else.

I will say, however, that the actual revenge plot itself was very funny…it just took forever to get to that point. The whole movie had a lot of preparation and character introduction, development, and interaction. It was about these three girls upset at each other and then transforming into best friends before it even went the revenge route…which again…isn’t a huge mistake…but now you have a tangled web of three different plots that don’t weave together very well at all. The best plot, in my opinion, was the revenge bit…and it just took too long to get there, unfortunately.

Also, it may only be me, but the entire inclusion of Nicki Minaj as Carly’s secretary was completely annoying and unnecessary.

All in all, I’d have to say that the movie felt like it had a lot of writers that couldn’t agree on which direction they really wanted to go. It had the elements of a good RomCom, but they were all separated by a huge, indestructible wall. These elements, of course, would be good character writing, a main plot, and a secondary plot…which the film respectfully has, but none of these work together in harmony, nor in timing or direction. It’s messy.

The Good:

The Other Woman had a good idea somewhere up its sleeve in regards to a successful romantic comedy. It had all of the elements for a great movie, which was great diverse character writing and development, a solid and classic main plot, and a fun secondary story.

The Bad:

None of that matters, however, because they don’t work together at all. Instead, these elements are like opposite magnets. They just feel wrong together and it makes the audience sigh in annoyance. I would forgive all that if it just got to the revenge plot quick enough, and trust me when I say…it didn’t even come close to being forgivable.

Oculus (2014)

Oculus

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Mystery Confusion Galore

As much as I scoff at horror film clichés like the rest of you, I have to say that I do find horror films about mirrors to be quite fascinating. In fact, I really believe there is a lot of untouched potential for scary mirrors. I would watch a haunted mirror film any day over a haunted doll story. The entire concept that mirrors are connected to another world has been around for generations, but what that means to everyone else has been translated in different ways. Oculus is just one of these types of films, and I think there is honestly some good things to be said here. It’s not perfect by any means, but it is definitely notable.

It is no easy task to explain the plot of this film, because in all honesty, it’s a bit jagged in its direction…but that is clearly on purpose. Basically, Karen Gillan plays a gal named Kaylie, who experienced a traumatizing event with her brother when they were younger. She believes a mirror is connected to the world of the supernatural, and that it reeks havoc on people through hallucinations and delusions…with of course, the help from some shiny eyed ghosts. Years after the event that changed their lives, they return back to the house on a single mission…to kill that mirror before it does anymore harm.

So you should know that this movie is confusing. It takes the use of flashbacks and creates a whole new form of storytelling that weaves the past and present together in perfect harmony…but at the same time it’s a little hard to follow. I think a second viewing of the movie may stitch things together a little better, but the way it is done isn’t entirely horrible. I just wish they explained things a little more clearly by the very end, as the film feels very mystery-centered rather than horror.

That’s actually one thing I liked about this film. Instead of using overdone horror clichés, they made use of the imagination. Not so much as how Paranormal Activity did, but through it’s mystery and jumping between time periods…you’re more than forced to think about what you’re watching and what it ultimately means. It does have a few “jump out” moments and “shocking” shots, but not as much as what I expected, and the entire concept of the movie was enough to actually keep me watching. I wouldn’t call this movie scary whatsoever, but I think any horror film that has an interesting story is worth a watch. I actually think the story itself is somewhat original, or at least it feels that way. Like I said…I’ll take this over a haunted doll movie any day of the week.

The Good:

I honestly think the concept of Oculus and even some of how it was executed was rather original and intriguing. Its use of stitching together the past and present is mystifying and keeps you glued to the screen wondering how it will ultimately wind up, and if these questions will ever be answered.

The Bad:

Some of those questions aren’t really answered, but I’m not entirely sure they needed to be by the time the movie was over. Also, as interesting as this movie is, it’s supposedly a horror film…and it just doesn’t feel like that. The people in the movie are more like scientists or ghost hunters than anything…they are playing characters that are more intrigued than anything else…so if they aren’t going to act scared…either are the audience members.

The Random:

Karen Gillan with an American accent…feels weird. She actually does a really good job with the accent, but if you’re used to seeing her in British shows like Doctor Who, then you might need to have your brain readjust your ears in order to accept what you’re hearing.

Dakota Skye (2008)

Dakota-Skye

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Cheap, but silly

Everyone knows that Hulu has movies, for those of you that have run out of choices on Netflix. They are typically the movies you have never heard of, nor care to see, but once in a blue moon there might be something interesting that at least digs into your brain with an interesting concept. The best of the best are usually on multiple platforms, but not always. If you spin your randomizer/movie generator, you may land upon Dakota Skye…which lives in Hululand. The reason why this one caught my attention was because it was an unlikely-superhero movie, which, hit or miss, always catches my eye.

The Dakota Skye in question is our heroine. Her super power is an interesting one…she can tell when people are lying. That’s right, whenever someone lies, she reads a line of subtitles that tell her the truth. However, all superheroes must have arch nemeses, and apparently hers is “a cute boy named Jonah”. She can tell when any given person tells a lie, but she can’t read Jonah…is he telling her the truth all the time? Or does he have a gift as well, which allows him to conceal his untruths whenever he likes? Whatever the case, they’re practically in love with each other.

The real reason why I wanted to see this is because I really do like unlikely superhero flicks because they usually go a especially unique route in terms of the actual special ability. How many movies, books, and comics do we really have with heroes that have super strength, flight, or speed? Her ability is to tell when anyone is lying…but here’s the problem…that’s a really weird choice for a power. So weird, in fact, that the audience may just think she’s conceded or is just misinterpreting intuition. The movie’s plan may have been to have the audience decide for themselves what it really is, but the execution of their plan wasn’t exactly the best. I think they were leaning towards her actually having powers, but again, the execution was a little poor.

The film is also very clearly cheap. We’re talking student-film budget. There is no movie filters in place here, it looks like everyone is just wearing their own clothes from home…which is a problem when a teacher is wearing a regular t-shirt under a suit jacket. Also, you really don’t see how bad auto-white balance looks until you see it used in an actual movie. Let’s just put it this way – it doesn’t exactly look like a movie in general. But I try to look past certain flaws. Maybe if it was done by Universal Studios or Sony it would be good.

Eh, even with the best actors, lighting, foley artists and the works, they’d still have a poor script that doesn’t make a lot of sense. The whole idea is wrapped around this girl having an arch nemesis who she can’t read. But this Jonah guy…he’s not much of an arch nemesis. As soon as you see him, you know he’s like the nicest person in the entire movie. He’s a sweetheart, and she’s off cheating with her boyfriend. If you want to call anyone a nemesis, it would be her. She is her own arch nemesis, but it didn’t even go that route. It almost glorified cheating, actually.

The Good:

Well, I do like a fraction of what the concept was trying to be. The first few minutes I was actually pretty interested in what they would do.

The Bad:

But everything else had me a little disappointed. The film isn’t horrible, but it has some seriously flawed writing, production, acting, and direction. In short, it makes sense why this movie is on Hulu. I have deemed Hulu “The Island of Misfit Films”.

Need for Speed (2014)

Need-for-Speed

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
It’s finally over.

It’s not really a nationally held secret that I’m not the biggest fan of car movies. I more or less avoided all of the Fast and Furious films for as long as I possibly could because none of them really interested me, and that holds true even after I saw them. I liked some of them because I could respect the character writing and even some of the acting. Cars though, I couldn’t care less. They are cars, what can I say? Then news came out that Need for Speed was coming out. You know, the one based off of that video game series that I also didn’t play? How exciting. Anyways, I’ll tell you the real reason I watched this movie: Aaron Paul…and even he disappointed me.

What’s the movie about? Cars. Sure, it has a little bit of a deeper storyline, but in the end it’s about cars, but I’ll try to appease my readers by explaining the “real” plot. Basically it’s all about revenge – Aaron Paul’s character experiences a personal loss and decides to set out for revenge by heading to California for a big fat car race thingy mah-jig. On his way there, his arch nemesis…or something…tries to get other people to stop him because he’s a threat. I don’t know. Just picture a cross-country road trip with cars flipping about.

This is going to be really difficult to review because how do you review a film with basically no substance? The reason why the Fast and Furious films are successful isn’t because of the action and cars…even though that’s part of it. They are successful because it is carried by good actors playing likeable characters. They also take the audience outside of the world of cars and invite them into their lives. All Need for Speed did was take you along for the ride. These people almost never leave the car because it’s a high-octane road trip film. They have to get across the country in two days. I get it, but that doesn’t make the movie any better.

The only real thing that could maybe save the movie is the characters…and of course they botched that up as well. Aaron Paul, of course, is a wonderful actor…but apparently only if he is typecasted. You know him from his slacker role in Breaking Bad (Jesse), but they had a different character in mind for this movie. Imagine a rough and tough attitude coming out of him…or at least him trying to pull that off. It looked so over-the-top and so unnatural that every other character that he interacts with…has absolutely no believable chemistry together.

And hey, did anyone catch the length of the movie? Is that you directing, Peter Jackson, because I don’t see any other reason a movie about cars should be nearly 2.5 hours in length. I think more people would be interested in the movie if it wasn’t so unearthly long. I tried my best at not falling asleep or getting distracted by practically anything else…but it was proving difficult.

The Good:

Need for Speed excels is in its action sequences and visuals. Car nerds will love this film for showing off some really wicked cool-looking and fast cars, and action geeks will also love the heart-racing sequences.

The Bad:

…and movie buffs will probably hate this movie because it’s all about cars and practically nothing else. The absurdity of acting and lack of character and story development makes this film nothing more than a lump of garbage.

The Random:

I’m pretty sure Aaron Paul was high on blue meth when he accepted this role.

Transcendence (2014)

Transcendence

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Don’t play God.

It’s always a risk for anyone to make a movie that makes you think. Why? Because it takes a lot of creative writing to construct a vision that you come up with that also connects with a wider audience. That’s why there are a lot of movies that technically have an interesting concept, but don’t go over so well with the critics. The Purge, for example, has a lot of important and ethical questions for our society. However, it wasn’t accepted very well from its reviews…and I understand that…but I also stick up for the bullied movies and give credit where credit is due. Transcendence is another movie that really tries to make you think about where we’re heading in society…it’s just the way it tries to get there that’s questionable.

So, Johnny Depp basically plays a genius scientist by the name of Will Caster. Will’s vision as a scientist is basically to create a god-like artificial intelligence, which of course, is upsetting the “playing god” enthusiasts. One of these radicals shoots Will, which somehow poisons Will’s systems…giving him only a month to live. His wife, Evelyn, decides to continue his work and upload his consciousness to the internet…a form of immortality if you will. The question arises, however, if Cyber-Will is really Will at all when his uploaded consciousness begins to rapidly change the world in virtually supernatural ways.

It’s not really hard to see that this movie is all about the implications of playing God and the positives and negatives of such an act. We’ve had these movies before in different forms, but I personally like the lone idea of our consciousness being uploaded onto the internet. After all, our brain is just a system of wirings and synapses…it’s just a complicated computer anyways…so the idea alone isn’t absolutely horrible. The main problem this movie faces is that the idea is strong, but where to go after you obtain the idea…is grasping. After he’s on the internet, there are a few things that he does that just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. The explanation is cool. The visuals are cool, but the idea is so far-fetched that it jumped too far into the realm of sci-fi that it couldn’t easily get back.

It’s not that the direction was horrible, but it definitely wasn’t expected, and certainly not what I wanted to see from the film. I love movies that make you think, and the advancements of our technology is absolutely stunning in real life…it really does make you think if some things are possible. It should have just stuck with that. In fact, the actual uploading of the consciousness shouldn’t have even happened until the end or something…and the movie would just be a journey of explaining science and discoveries. It could be very thought-provoking if it tried to be. Instead, it tried way too hard and overreached its potential.

I did have fun with the movie, though. Yes, there were moments where I sighed and rolled my eyes, but I was in it and wanted to see how they would end everything. It could have been something amazing, but it just turned out to be something bearable and cool to see if you have nothing else to do on a Tuesday evening. I also liked the selection for the cast and enjoyed seeing them on screen even if this wasn’t their best movie…any of them.

The Good:

Despite all of its flaws, Transcendence makes you think about the advancements of technology and where we’re really heading to in the future. Johnny Depp tried his best to perform as a self-aware computer system, but understandably came off a bit robotic.

The Bad:

To be blunt, it overreached its potential. It had a good idea, and then it took that idea and stretched it to unbearable lengths. It went from being really interesting to overly sci-fi in a matter of minutes – transforming into something you never really cared to see from the movie to begin with.

The Random:

Cillian Murphy was in this movie, and his character was surprisingly boring and uninvolved.

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