Ex Machina – movie review

ExMachinaGrade: A-

Ex Machina is essentially a philosophical thriller that examines the state of mind of the characters in the story — all three of them.

The acting is superb, and it has to be. What the characters say through their expressions is just as important as what they say audibly. A great deal of credit has to be given to the first time director Alex Garland — who also wrote the screen play for this movie as well as 28 Days Later and Sunshine.

This is science fiction done right. My only beef with the movie is the ending. I might have gone a different way, but the ending they gave it is satisfactory.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – movie review

AvengersAgeofUltronGrade: A+

In case you didn’t know this movie, and all MARVEL movies it seems, came out a week earlier in the UK and many other countries than it does in the USA. (Why? I have no idea.) Anyhow, I downloaded a crappy cam copy so that I could get peetimes for my international users. I stopped watching the movie after I found the last peetime. I want to save the ending for a nice 3D theater experience.

What I did see of the movie was A W E S O M E! It’s killing me to have to wait to see the end.

I’ll update this review after I’ve seen the entire movie. (Is it Friday yet?)

Insurgent – movie review

insurgent

Grade: C

I’m not a fan of the Divergent series and haven’t read the books. I watched the first movie the night before Insurgent was released and found it to be uninspiring. I wasn’t disappointed with Insurgent because I didn’t expect much.

The best thing I can say is that it isn’t horrible. They managed to put the pieces together well enough that the movie isn’t ridiculously bad. But I was never able to get caught up in the story — I’m clearly not the target demographic. All I could think was, “This looks like Inception, this part is just like the Matrix,” and so on. There’s nothing wrong with being derivative of other films. Most great stories are derivative of one thing or another. Insurgent is just a little too obvious with it. It copies not just concepts from other stories but also the visual representation. For instance when Tris is connected to the simulator is exactly like Neo connected to the mainframe at the end of Matrix Revolutions.

Because the story is so derivative it’s also predictable.

The story doesn’t put a lot of demands on the actors, so I didn’t find anyone who stood out, but at the same time there weren’t any poor performances. This all adds up to an exceedingly average movie.

Run All Night – movie review

Run-all-nightGrade: C-

The good news is that this movie is immeasurably better than Taken 3.

Liam did a good job with his role, as did Ed Harris. Joel Kinnaman, who played Mike (Liam’s son), didn’t have much to work with. His character was consistently expressionless throughout the movie. My guess is that was due to the script and/or director.

The story was okay. The plot isn’t tricky so it’s easy to follow and understand the character’s motivations. My major beef with the story is the reaction of Ed Harris’ character to the death of his son. That seemed to be manufactured just to make the story work and not authentic at all based on his relationship with Liam’s character.

My favorite thing about the movie is the cinematography. They used a neat trick of pulling away from one scene and in one camera shot flying across the city to another location to transition to the next scene. That provided a great sense of continuity in both time and space.

Chappie – movie review

chappieI really don’t want to review this movie because I have so much respect for Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver. In a way having those two in the movie made it even worse because their talents were so obviously wasted on the roles they had. I wonder if they lost a bet or something and that’s why they ended up in this movie.

I had high hopes for the movie, but low expectations. My low expectations were realized during the first three minutes of heavy handed exposition. For instance the introduction to Hugh Jackman’s character came in a news blurb that basically said, “He’s an ex-military weapons designer who disagrees with the development of artificial intelligence on spiritual grounds.” And that was all the character development Hugh’s character would get.

The story had potential, but fell light-years short of realizing it. The script needed a few more rounds of revisions and some heavy editing.

Sigourey’s character was completely underdeveloped. Fortunately she had what amounted to an extended cameo role so it wasn’t too unpalatable to watch.

One other problem I had was understanding Chappie. It’s hard enough to understand a computerized voice, but a computerized voice with an accent, in this case a South African accent, sometimes sounded like a bunch of random noise.

Focus – movie review

focusGrade: C+

I’ve put off writing my review of this movie because I can’t think of anything to say. It’s one of those movies that doesn’t stand out as good or bad in any way.

The story is decent. I think they were trying to pull of an Inception-like effect, but with within cons instead of dreams within dreams. They didn’t fail miserably, but at the same time they didn’t really hit a home run either.

Will Smith was pretty much what you would expect. His character is flamboyant and confident — something Smith excels at. The rest of the cast was good, but again, no one stood out as remarkable, except for maybe Adrian Martinez “sidekick to the stars.” He did a fantastic job with a small role.

It isn’t like February through April have a lot of must see movies. You could do worse if you’re just in the mood for a night out and want to see a movie. Otherwise put this on your list of movies to see on DVD.

Whiplash – movie review

whiplashGrade: A

There’s no point in reviewing this movie. It’s as good as a movie is going to get. Great story, great acting — J.K. Simmons won an Oscar for best supporting actor, and great directing, oh yeah, the music doesn’t suck either. 🙂

Kingsman: The Secret Service – movie review

kingsmanGrade: A

It isn’t often that a movie exceeds my expectations, but this one sure did. I was hoping for something good; I got something great.

There are no holes in this movie. The acting is better than good, there isn’t anything groundbreaking with the action, but I think they did an excellent job. Especially with the length of the fight scenes. They gave us enough to enjoy without dragging it out for too long.

The *evil plot* was one of the best in any spy movie ever. It was easy to understand and oddly compelling. I must admit I’ve had the same thoughts myself from time to time after watching cable news. 🙂

If there was one thing I would criticize it would be the humor. There were lots of amusing scenes, but only a few downright LOL moments. But, on the other hand they didn’t try to create any LOL moments that missed.

Matthew Vaughn, the writer/director, deserves huge kudos for bringing the fun back to spy movies. I just want to know when the sequel is due.

Jupiter Ascending – movie review

Jupiter-AscendingGrade: C

It’s times like these that I really hate writing movie reviews. Jupiter Ascending is an archetypical story with a great deal of potential, but it falls short in so many ways. But I really appreciate that the Wachowski’s (writers/directors of The Matrix, V is for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas) always try and reach for making an epic movie. They don’t always succeed but when they do it more than makes up for their shortcomings.

The best part of the movie is the visuals. If you really want to see this movie then splurge and see it in 3D, because it’s really well done. From what I can tell the entire movie was shot in 3D, instead of just the CG scenes which some movies do. If you’re not crazy about 3D then this might be worth waiting for the DVD.

In my opinion the love story is the biggest disappointment. It’s presented as one of those love at first sight scenarios that just doesn’t work for me. Kudos to you if you enjoy that sort of love story. I want to see two characters developed as individuals so that I can feel them falling in love instead of being told they fall in love.

The action was good, especially the first chase scene. After that some of the fight scenes drag on a little longer than needed. In fact I used one of the middling action scenes as a Peetime because it’s just one long grab and go.

There wasn’t anything funny in the movie. I don’t even think they tried. But this is a Wachowski’s movie and I honestly can’t remember a funny scene in any movie they’ve ever done.