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Neighbors – movie review

MomsNightOutGrade: A

Have you ever had something so funny happen that when you replay it in your head you start laughing all over again? I am experiencing that while entering my Peetimes for Neighbors. I was reading over my notes and started cackling again and I’m all by myself now. This was a non-stop laugh riot.

Each and every one of the actors did such an amazing job that this just made my top five comedies of all time. The delivery was perfect and the chemistry between everyone was top notch. I can’t decide who my favorite character was. I’m going to go see it again this weekend and maybe I can decide then.

Let me warn you, it’s rated R for a reason. Don’t let your little ones trick you into taking them. It’s not just because of the language. It’s over the top raunchy at some points but it totally worked.

Mom’s Night Out – movie review

MomsNightOutGrade: B-

Because of the way movie releases shook out this week I had to see *Mom’s Night Out* – not exactly my genre. Going in I hadn’t seen a single preview for this movie, a rarity, so I had no expectations whatsoever.

*Mom’s Night Out* isn’t a good movie, but you’re probably going to like it anyway. In case you didn’t know this movie is heavily laden with Christian ethics and it gets thicker as the movie goes on. That surprised me because, as mentioned I hadn’t seen any previews, and I expected a comedy. When was the last Christian comedy movie made?

All that aside, once the night out actually got started the movie did have plenty of humor. Leading up to that there were some cringe worthy scenes which is probably why the critics rating at is in the teens – very bad. But like I said, your probably going to like the movie as most RottenTomatoes users did – mid 70% range.

The acting was adequate all around and mostly hinges on Sarah Drew (Allyson) being able to pull off a woman on the edge of a mental breakdown.

A public service message
The turning point in Allyson’s life obviously comes from a spiritual revelation – which I thought was nicely done. However, Allyson might also be in need of some medications – just an observation that someone with these issues might need to consider. There shouldn’t be a stigma associated with people who need medications to help with a chemical imbalance in their brain. No one would ever consider that a diabetic is *weak* for taking a medication. Likewise no one should think of themselves, or another person, as weak for taking a medication to balance their brain chemistry.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – movie review

Spider-Man-2Grade: C+

Overall I’m not terribly impressed with Spider-Man 2, but I’ve not been much impressed with any of the movies in either Spider-Man series. My general feeling is that the characters, especially the villains, lack depth and believable motivation – more on that later.

The story was a little jumpy to me. There’s apparently a jump of a month, maybe more, between the opening scenes of the movie and the next bit, but there wasn’t a transition that spelled that out. In retrospect I realized that there was one particular scene that was used to bridge the gap between the two time frames, however they should have used a short montage.

Then there’s a huge amount of stuff that happens all on the same day. So much that it feels, even now, like there’s no way that much could happen in such a short period of time, not that it even needs to. They could have spread it out for a few days, a week maybe,to make it feel right.

It’s ironic that the most unrealistic thing in most super hero movies is the motivation behind their personal problems. I’m here to tell you that Peter Parker isn’t going to feel the anguish that he feels over Stacy’s dads death – from the first movie. I know, they have to make a story, but find something else. No young man is going to take things so seriously. Would it bother him, sure. But to the point that it does? No way. We have to suspend our belief to enjoy this fantasy world where these super hero’s can exist, but don’t make us suspend our beliefs about character motivation. To me this is the primary difference between most of the Avenger and X-Men movies and the Spider-Man movies: the character motivation, usually, works in the prior.

The motivation for the villains is especially heavy handed. It’s like decent people are just looking for an excuse to be evil. It’s hard to buy on a consistent basis.

There was practically no humor to speak of. Sure, a few chuckles, but nothing memorable. Such a shame. A movie like this needs at least 2-3 scenes that give the audience a good hearty laugh. I’ll have to blame the writers on that.

Not that anyone goes to these movies for the acting but I thought Emma Stone, and of course Sally Fields, were fantastic.  Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker) did okay with what he was given. He may have shined if the writing had been better.

I saw it in 3D just so I could include it in my review. Normally I avoid 3D because it’s hard to take notes and it costs $4 extra. Overall it was decent. The video was crisp, which has been a problem in other movies. The brightness was pretty good, which can also be a problem. There were a few cool 3D scenes. Specifically the fight with Electro worked pretty well. The background is dark which makes nice contrast for the lightning and energy effects that light up the screen in 3D. Also the fight in the clock tower was good in 3D. Other than those scenes I pretty much forgot I was watching in 3D. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it in 3D unless you’re a big fan of that format.

Transcendence – movie review

transcendenceGrade: C

I didn’t find Transcendence to be bad, but I didn’t think it was very good either.

First, the opening scene in the movie is 5 years after the events that transpire. It leaves no room for suspense during the movie because you already know pretty much how things turn out – not well.

My biggest complaint with the movie is how they built the Artificial Intelligence up to be almost God like in power but were able to defeat it so easily. I know a good bit about computers, networks, nano technology and how they presented the AI was reasonable, if just a little over the top for the sake of effects. But the way they defeated it was total nonsense. So, there’s that.

All in all I think the story just needed a little more time in the oven.

One cool thing that they have in the movie is a new type of zombie. Really, it’s sort of like a nano-tech zombie thing. We’ll probably see more of that in the future.

The best thing I can say about the movie is that they had a great cast. Depp, Bettany, Freeman. That’s a class-A lineup, and Rebecca Hall was pretty good as well. It’s really just the story that’s lacking.

Draft Day – movie review

Grade: B+
I’m a huge football fan. (Roll Tide) When I first saw the previews to Draft Day I thought, “Okay, maybe hard core football fans can get behind this but no one else is going to want to see it.”

Then I discovered that it’s directed by Ivan Reitman, who also directed Dave, Ghost Busters, Kindergarten Cop, et al. The man is a master craftsman in the director’s chair, and he showed his talent again.

Draft Day isn’t perfect, but it’s much better than I thought it would be. A nice character story is told in the midst of the draft drama in such a way that they enhance each other.

Kevin Costner was fantastic in the lead roll and everyone else played their parts wonderfully.

The one thing I think could have been better was the humor. There were some good chuckles but nothing that was laugh out loud. That would have pushed it over the top.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – movie review

Grade: A-

CaptainAmerica-winter-soldierCaptain America: The Winter Soldier has everything you want in an Action/Adventure: action in spades, well paced, great acting, largely believable, and a few good laughs sprinkled throughout.

The Action was pretty much all you could ask for. Chris Evans, as Captain America, is a great combination of grace and brute force. His fight scenes were awesome. However, the one thing that kept distracting me is the number of times he used his shield to protect from gun fire. Can’t the bad guys shoot his legs? Okay, whatever, just don’t question that bit. Everything else was fantastic.

Who isn’t a fan of Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow? Too often we see female action figures fight toe-to-toe with men much larger than they are, and exchange blows like it’s no big deal to get punched in the face by someone who’s four times stronger than you. But Natasha doesn’t fight like that. When she gets hit it hurts, but she doesn’t often get hit. Her fighting style looks like that of a terminator ballerina hybrid – maybe her nick name should be the Terminina…nah, that’s stupid. 🙂

There was drama. You know the good guys are going to survive and win, but you never know at what cost. I think that’s the single most difficult thing the writers have for these stories. You know certain characters can’t die, because they have a contract for 5 more films, so how do you ratchet up the drama? The answer is you put them through emotional turmoil, and make the characters question their own motivations. The writers did that to great effect.

A word on 3D. I saw it in 2D because I had to take notes throughout the movie. However, there wasn’t anything in the movie that seemed like it would make for a great 3D film. Personally, if you’re on the fence about which format to see it in then I’d suggest 2D.

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

6 things you must know before seeing Noah

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

  1. Filmmakers followed biblical ark design
    Instead of creating a super cool Hollywood version of the ark, the director insisted on using the measurements giving in Genesis.  “30 cubits high, by 50 cubits wide, by 300 cubits long and three levels high.”  How big is a cubit?  We don’t know.
  2. Shot in Iceland
    The director decided not to go with the traditional sandy desert look. Instead, he wanted to portray the ancient world as green and lush.
  3. Who are “The Watchers”?
    The rock-like beasts in the film are based on the Bible’s account of anti-deluvian creatures called “Nehpilim”, who were fallen angels and possibly giants.  They are voiced by actors Mark Margolis, Nick Nolte and Frank Langella.
  4. Did Pope Francis see the movie?
    No. Despite Russell Crowe trying to arrange a private audience with the Pontiff through Twitter, this Pope doesn’t watch movies. Crowe and Aronofsky did meet the Pope during a public event last week, while they were traveling in Rome to promote the film.
  5. Noah is banned in some Muslim countries
    Qatar, Indonesia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have all banned the movie Noah from showing in their country. They all claim the reason is that the Koran also features Noah as a prophet, and Islam prohibits depicting the likeness of any profits, considering it taboo.
  6. 6. Director Darren Aronofsky’s long relationship with Noah
    Though Aronofsky considers himself an atheist, he was raised Jewish and wrote a poem about Noah when he was only 13-years-old.  The poem won an award and started his career as a story teller.

    Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

Need for Speed – movie review

NeedForSpeedGrade: B

I have been anxiously awaiting the release of Need For Speed for months. For a Mustang lover this movie delivered the goods at 234 miles per hour. The cars were amazing. They were the stars of this film.

If you are looking for a realistic movie, keep searching. There were some far fetched scenes but I didn’t care because it was all about the Need For Speed. The acting wasn’t bad either. The cast seemed to have pretty good chemistry and there wasn’t too much extra stuff thrown in to weigh the real plot down. There were even some LOL moments.

I walked out of the theater quite pleased. As long as you are a car lover that sometimes has a lead foot, I’d recommend going to see this one. You want the experience to be in a theater. It not only looked great but the sound was amazing.

Veronica Mars – movie review

VeronicaMarsGrade: A

I wouldn’t consider myself a Marshmallow, but I did watch, and enjoy, the Veronica Mars TV series. The movie is everything you would expect from a great two part TV episode. There is Veronica’s familiar sharp witted dialog, and the pacing is just like the TV show.

They did a great job paying homage to the TV show, and even Kickstarter. You’ll love all the references they give to the show, especially early on.

The one knock I’d give it is the vast number of names that get thrown around. I had a hard time keeping track of who they were talking about sometimes. Fortunately they do a good job keeping everything in context to minimize the confusion.

There are plenty of laughs and a few “Oh no she didn’t” moments. Lets hope that this movie is a stepping stone to more movies or maybe a comeback of the TV series.

Note: my grade of an “A” for this movie assumes you watched the TV series. I have no idea how well this will be recieved by non Marshmallows.

300: Rise of an Empire – movie review

300RiseofanempireGrade: C+
This is no 300. I loved that movie and have seen it many times. However, Rise of an Empire was better than I thought it would be because from the previews it looked pretty horrible. It’s just as overly dramatic as 300, maybe even more so because Sullivan Stapleton, who plays the main character Themistokles, doesn’t have the same gravitas as Gerard Butler from 300.

Lets face it, the action is the main reason anyone’s going to see this movie. From that angle it’s almost as good as 300. However, there were a few scenes that looked like they were pulled out of a video game. Not that the entire movie doesn’t have the video game look but some of the scenes leaned too heavily on CG – like the horse scene near the end of the movie.

If you’re a fan of 300 then I think you’ll like this movie just fine as long as you don’t go in with high expectations.