2014: The Year in Reviews (May)

Every January, I go over almost the films that are scheduled to come out that year. I use Wikipedia’s year in film article as it exists at the time, and preview all the films. I use it to familiarize myself with what’s coming out, and, most importantly, use it to guess what I’m going to think about all of the movies. I like to guess ratings for all the films because, at this point, I know myself pretty well, and I selfishly like to see how close I can get up to twelve months out. Plus, it allows me to see which films at the end of the year surprised me, for better or worse. But mostly, it’s so I know what’s coming out. Sometimes I just want to know what to be excited for.

Aside from the films scheduled, I also go over films that have been finished (or are shooting), that, in all likelihood, will probably come out over the course of the year. I’ve gotten much more thorough about this since starting the blog. 2011 had 30 such films. 2012 had 90. Last year, I had 209, plus an extra 27 held over from the year before. At this point, there’s not much that I miss.

How these articles work: I recap what I said about the films in January, write up my review of the films based on the initial watch (which have been posted in three separate reviews articles from April, August, and… yesterday), and then I give my final thoughts on the film, after having had time to think about it some more, and finalize my ranking. Typically, the Final Thoughts space is for me to go, “Originally I gave it 3.5 stars, but now, it’s more like 3.”

We started with January, and are going month by month through December. After that, I’ll recap the films I tracked in January that didn’t come out (and ultimately decide which ones I’ll keep tracking next year). And at the end of it all, I’ll analyze all the numbers to see how accurate I was in guessing back in January. Mostly it’s to put all the ratings in one place. And of course, after that, we’ll end the year with the Unforgivables list and my Top Ten list. But that’s all not for another two weeks. Right now, we’re recapping May:

One thing I do in all these recap articles is explain how my rankings work.

* * * * * (5 stars) — I really loved the film. Five stars essentially guarantees the film a spot in the top ten or top twenty (Though usually top ten). (2013 examples of 5 star movies: Gravity, Frozen, The Wind Rises.)

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars) — I loved the film, but not unconditionally. Four and a half stars is usually the ranking for films in the top ten and top twenty. Rarely does a four and a half star film fall to tier two, but that’s all dependent on how many there are. (2013 examples of 4.5 star films: About Time, Inside Llewyn Davis, Prisoners, 12 Years a Slave.)

* * * * (4 stars) — I liked the film quite a bit, but it’s not one of those that I would automatically say is a top ten film. It could end up being one when all is said and done, but typically a four star film is one of those that I’ve solidly liked, and will openly say is a really good movie. Three and a half, I’ll say that I really enjoyed it. But four stars is where I’ll say that it’s a really good movie. Four star movies generally are top twenty and tier two. They don’t usually make the top ten, but it’s not unheard of. (2013 examples of 4 star films: Dallas Buyers Club, Escape from Tomorrow, The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, Pacific Rim, This Is the End.)

* * * ½ (3.5 stars) — The film stood out to me as being particularly solid. I always differentiate three and a half from three by saying that three stars is for a film that I just enjoyed enough to give it the thumbs up. Three and a half is when I go, “Wow, that was actually really solid and I enjoyed it quite a bit.” It’s not alway a mark of “this was better than I expected” or, “It’s better than you think.” Sometimes it’s just, “That was really solid,” or, “That was awesome,” even though the film itself wasn’t particularly a masterpiece. It’s a very variable ranking. It could mean a lot of things. Usually it’s for something I enjoyed, but didn’t love enough to put it near the very top of my year-end list. Three and a half star films never make it above tier two, and most of them are tier three. You’ll see only a few populating tier two, but mostly they’re tier three. (2013 examples of 3.5 star films: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, The Best Offer, Frances Ha, Now You See Me, Pain and Gain, Upstream Color.)

* * * (3 stars) — Three stars is for films that were pretty good. Usually for a three star movie, I’ll say, “I enjoyed it well enough.” Or, probably the most common phrase I use is, “You can get through it.” But without qualification. For a two and a half star film, I’ll say, “You can get through it, but…” Three stars don’t have the qualification. Mostly three stars is for a film I enjoyed enough to say it wasn’t bad. I found it watchable enough that I wasn’t completely indifferent toward it. If I give a film that seems like it should have a higher rating three stars, then it means I didn’t enjoy it as much as everyone else. And if there’s something you’d think was a piece of shit at three stars, it means I thought it wasn’t actually that bad. But most of the time, three stars just means, “Yeah, it was okay. I enjoyed it well enough.” They’re just entertaining enough for me to not be indifferent. (2013 examples of 3 star films: Beautiful Creatures, The Call, The Lone Ranger, Spring Breakers, To the Wonder, 21 & Over.)

* * ½ (2.5 stars) — Two and a half stars is my ultimate indifference ranking. I didn’t necessarily think it was a bad film, I just didn’t give a shit about it whatsoever. I thought it was utterly generic. Nothing to make me like it, and it wasn’t bad enough to make me dislike it. It wasn’t memorable to me in any way. Odds are, if a “classy” movie is here, it means it was particularly disappointing, and if something that seemed like an Unforgivable is here, it means it actually wasn’t the piece of shit we were all thinking and was actually just about passable. It’s also my way of saying, “You might have liked this, but I certainly didn’t.” And also my way of saying, “This wasn’t very good, but at least it was competently made.” But for the most part, two and a half stars means I just didn’t care whatsoever and will not remember much about the movie in two years. They may also be Unforgivable, depending on my reasons. (2013 examples of 2.5 star films: After Earth, The Butler, Gangster Squad, A Good Day to Die Hard, Jobs.)

* * (2 stars) — Two starts means that the film was mostly competent and all, but I just didn’t like it. Either it wasn’t for me, it was a genre that I don’t like (horror movie), I just found it boring, or it was one of those generic shitty genre movies that populate the early months. Or it was just a giant piece of shit that at least looked like a good movie. So two stars is for — “They tried… it just wasn’t very good.” Depending on how bad they are, they do have a shot at the Unforgivables list. (2013 examples of 2 star films: The Big Wedding, A Haunted House, The Internship, Lovelace, Safe Haven.)

* ½ (1.5 stars) — One and a half usually means the film was terrible, but it’s not a surefire Unforgivable. Probably because it’s a shitty thriller, a shitty horror movie, or a horrible sequel in a franchise that has churned out nothing but horrible sequels. Or it’s for films that could have gone two stars, but I just have a particular dislike for them. These have a pretty good shot at the Unforgivables list, and should for sure make my bottom 25 list. (2013 examples of 1.5 star films: Battle of the Year, The Heat, Identity Thief, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, We’re the Millers.)

* (1 star) — I really didn’t like the movie. It was so bad it was almost unwatchable. Typically a one star film is certain to be Unforgivable. Sometimes one star movies get saved by virtue of being a certain kind of sequel (like Big Mommas House: Like Father, Like Son) or being something that’s too easy to make Unforgivable (like Marmaduke, or a Friedberg and Seltzer movie. Movies we knew were gonna be pieces of shit going in), but in any case — they’re really awful movies that shouldn’t exist. (2013 examples of 1 star films: Ass Backwards, The Canyons, Inappropriate Comedy, So Undercover.)

0 stars — It means I hated the film. Guaranteed Unforgivable. It’s a film that should never have been made, and has actually lowered the bar for cinema as an art form and has actually detracted from a culture that’s in the toilet to begin with. A film with no redeeming qualities whatsoever and one that physically made me angry while watching it. (2013 examples of 0 star films: Grown Ups 2, The Starving Games.) All right, now let’s get recapping: We’re gonna start, as we always do, with a combination of 2013 films that I didn’t get to see in time for last year’s articles (or are clearly 2013 films that weren’t released until this year or are ones I just didn’t know about until this year).

May

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

What I said about it back in January:

“Okay, so the first movie was a lot of fun, but didn’t hold up at all upon second viewing.”

“That said — I’m not really excited for this at all.”

“Remember when people thought Spider-Man 3 was a giant villain clusterfuck? How is this going to help? I mean, I’m sure it’s all about Electro, and Rhino is just the physical subvillain, and Green Goblin shows up barely and will come back later on, but still — aren’t we doing a bit too much here?”

“Shailene Woodley was also originally cast as Mary Jane, but they decided to cut her out of the movie, which is probably telling.”

“The trailer for this movie wasn’t particularly great, and quite frankly — I’m not expecting much. And it’s not like you’re gonna get J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson again (though, can we please?), so my hopes for this aren’t that high at all.”

3 stars. I’m sure it’ll be watchable, but I can’t see myself giving that much of a shit about it. Especially since they’re supposed to be trying that Marvel bullshit, and setting up for other movies and a bigger universe. FUCKING STOP ALREADY.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I liked it. I was worried about the ‘too many villains’ thing, but unlike Spider-Man 3, they don’t do the finite arc with them. They introduce them as part of a universe, and they do it believably.”

“They do a little bit of plate-spinning (but not really), and manage to revolve the stories around Peter rather than just introducing all these villain subplots.”

“It works. It’s not a perfect film (it’s probably not even really that good), but I was entertained and it reminded me why I enjoy certain superhero movies.”

“Also, apparently being the Green Goblin is hereditary. So you may want to get yourself checked for that.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Oh no. It’s not that good. I mean, it’s fun, but it’s a bad movie.

It’s somewhat enjoyable, but it’s a fucking mess. And I have problems with it both pertaining to the movie and completely outside the movie. So that’s contributing to the drop in rating. But we’ll get to that another time.

Also, I tested negative for Green Goblin. So ladies, have at it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact. After all that.

Belle

What I said about it back in January:

“It sounds interesting.”

“I’m guessing based on the date, it’s not good enough to be considered seriously for awards or ‘best of the year,’ but I’m just hoping for a good movie. I’m actually interested in everything this is about. I’ve never really seen anything like this before, and that intrigues me.”

3 stars. I’m actually more excited to see this than I am to see Spider-Man.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Great movie. And I bet you’ve never heard of it.”

“It’s an important one. And one I really wanted to see, because given who she was, she had a very unique and difficult social position. Plus it’s nice seeing black characters in aristocratic roles in this era.”

“I’m happy to say, the film is really good. And worth seeing. I am going to beat the drum for this film the rest of the year. Completely underseen, and it’s better than half the stuff that came out over the summer.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This was a way better movie than Spider-Man. And I’m fucking glad for that.

Watch this instead of that. It’ll make you a better person.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Walk of Shame

What I said about it back in January:

“Oh boy. This one could go many different ways. This could be Unforgivable. Then again, with it taking place in a limited amount of time — it could be all right.”

“One writer and director. That’s promising.”

“Though it’s also the director of Drillbit Taylor. (Though admittedly he didn’t write that.)”

“I don’t know what to think about this.”

“So let’s say 2.5 stars. Let the film decide. I hope this could be good. But we all know what can happen with this.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I lost a lot of hope for this (if I even had any) after I saw the trailer.”

“And then I watched it… and I didn’t hate it.”

“Not so much the concept — I liked the supporting characters. They cast this movie really well.”

“I still don’t think it’s a very good movie, but it’s not as close to Unforgivable as I would have thought. Which is a huge compliment in its direction.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Somehow, this movie stays 3 stars. It’s all because of the supporting cast.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. Surprisingly didn’t lean negative, so I’m not automatically wrong here. This could end up a push.

Neighbors

What I said about it back in January:

“The red band teaser was funny enough.”

“The date for this is surprising. That means they have confidence in it. Which means I’m gonna actually hope this is good rather than being wary.”

“I’m still gonna say 3 stars, because I’ve learned that it’s best to aim low with comedies and hope they’re good. My track record with comedies nowadays is spotty at best. And based on This Is the End last year, I’m cool with being way off it if means the film goes a lot higher than I guessed. So I’m gonna say 3 stars. The worst I can be about this is right.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This was funny.”

“But ultimately, once it was all over, the only thought I had was, ‘Yeah, that was good, but there wasn’t too much more than what I saw in the Red Band trailers.'”

“The Red Band trailer was two minutes of really funny stuff packed together. This was a movie of slightly more funny stuff spread out over 90 minutes. It dilutes the product.”

“This is my standard comedy rating. Even getting this is a sign of respect for a comedy nowadays. So let’s leave it at that and move on.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I did laugh during this movie. But when I think back to what I liked about it, it’s mostly the red band trailer. So I can’t rate it too highly. I’ll stick with three, and give this a marginal nod of respect, just like 22 Jump Street.

The reason I know this won’t go higher is because I really won’t have the urge to watch this again. Maybe once every seven years. Maybe.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Chef

What I said about it back in January:

“I can’t tell if this is gonna be good or not.”

“I’m excited for it based on the cast. The synopsis doesn’t sound too promising, but Favreau is also the dude who wrote Swingers, so at least there’s that. But he’s also the dude who co-wrote Couples Retreat, and directed Cowboys & Aliens.”

“Let’s call it 3 stars, and let the movie decide if it’s going higher or lower. I imagine there’s a 2.5-3.5 swing here. 2 or 4 would surprise me. I’ll stick with 3. I don’t really know enough to say anything else at this point.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Really, really liked this.”

“For some reason I can’t bring myself to say 4 stars here, even though I’m feeling like this will become 4 stars over time. So we’ll let it become 4 stars.”

“I actually started liking it more after they got on the food truck, and almost wished there was more of that. But even so, it’s a really enjoyable movie, and everyone in it is really likable.”

“I don’t see how people could dislike this. You might think it’s not of much substance, but this is a hard movie to dislike. And, yeah, the “food making as movie” metaphor is pretty overt, but I don’t have a problem with it.”

“This is looking like one of those tier 3 movies that could be a fringe tier 2 movie come year’s end. Big fan of this.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

LOVED this.

It’s going up. I said it would, and it has.

I really liked this, and it has held up for me. This has an outside shot at the top 20, potentially. That’s how much I liked it. Forget tier three. This is tier two easily for me. Loved this movie.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a full-star, and possibly more. Way better than I expected, even though I didn’t really know what my expectations were.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return

What I said about it back in January:

“I’ve been tracking this since like 2011, so I’m not surprised. It is funny to me, though, how this did the china doll thing first, and then Raimi came and took that plot point over for his movie.”

2.5 stars. Now that I have a synopsis, does anyone think this is going to be good? It has a fucking tugboat and a marshmallow in it.”

“The only hope I have for it is that it’s a musical. And if they can put the songs at the forefront (and the songs don’t suck), I can see a glimmer of hope for this.”

“Otherwise — nope.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I mean… obviously.”

“Did you even hear about this when it came out? That’s how you know it wasn’t going to be any good.”

“Oh, and it’s a boring plot and the songs suck.”

“Unless you love The Wizard of Oz, have young kids, or really want to see it for the cast, you don’t need to bother with this.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

That about covers it. Unless you fit into one of the above groups, you can skip this.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Double

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing?! Really?!

What I actually thought about it:

“This one is just laugh out loud funny.”

“It’s so bizarre, and the stuff that happens is just incredible. Really funny. Great performances.”

“This one will definitely (along with Enemy) be a movie I show people just to see their reactions to it. This will be a fun share for years to come.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Really loved this. This will be somewhere in my underseen or underrated movies lists. I loved this, and I want as many people as possible to see this, because it’s so goddamn fun to watch.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Moms’ Night Out

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Again, was hoping I’d be able to skip it. But then I heard I might have a bottom 25-er on my hands. So I figured I had to at least suffer through it.

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s not this movie’s fault that it sucks. But it sucks.”

“It never really had me to begin with, but it definitely lost me the moment it purported a reality where every family goes to church on Sunday and meets each other like a community. After that, I was gone. The wives have book clubs, everyone has too many manners, so no one calls out the assholes for being assholes… this is not a reality.”

“And it’s supposed to be a screwball comedy, so everything is heightened. In the wrong way.”

“Basically… it’s a really shitty movie, and we all knew that. So who’s the idiot here?”

* * (2 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Who’s the idiot here, indeed.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Tokarev

What I said about it back in January:

“Starring… wait for it…”

“Oh, you know who it’s gonna be…”

“Nicolas Cage.”

“Oh yeah.”

“So in.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Nothing spectacular. But I’ll watch Cage in anything.”

“In terms of all his movies, it’s just another watchable forgettable entry. Nothing more.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s Cage. You know what you’re getting.

They changed the title over the year, like they’ve been doing with his bad ones.

Also… Rage against The Dying of the Light.

10 points for my Cage movie puns.

I’m the best.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Devil’s Knot

What I said about it back in January:

“Atom Egoyan’s West Memphis Three movie.”

“Got not great reviews.”

“The fact that it’s still not out means it’s not anything too good.”

“Still, I’m not interested in the material and given that the reviews were so-so, I’ll stick with 3 stars here. I’ll see it, but I’m not holding out any hope for me to like this.”

What I actually thought about it:

“No. That’s really all I have to say about this.”

“No to Reese Witherspoon, no to the subject matter. Just, no to everything.”

“This movie was a chore to sit through, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought it wasn’t a particularly good movie. Because it’s not. So we give it the ‘meh’ and move on.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Meh.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. I think because I thought it would get screener consideration. If I knew it would get dumped VOD, it would have been a 2.5 guess.

Godzilla

What I said about it back in January:

“The teaser for this was badass. I saw it at least twice in theaters. It was fucking spectacular. That’s what a teaser trailer should be.”

“I’m really gonna go all in on this one. Gareth Edwards did an amazing job with Monsters, making a completely compelling and original movie with no money, and it looks like he knows how to make a Godzilla movie correctly (looking at you, Roland Emmerich).”

“I’m going 3.5 stars, but I really want to say 4. But I’ll stick with 3.5. I need the film to show me that extra layer of awesome before I go all all in with it.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I was with this from the opening credits.”

“I loved every second of it.”

“Really hoping this holds on for a top 20 spot come year’s end.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I still love this movie. This was still one of my favorite experiences of the year. Story problems and logic problems didn’t bother me. This was fun and this was exactly what I needed out of a big budget movie.

Huge fan of this.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star, but I was right there. I wanted to say 4.

Million Dollar Arm

What I said about it back in January:

“What surprises me about this is that Tom McCarthy wrote it.”

“Craig Gillespie is directing. He directed (but didn’t write) Lars and the Real Girl, and also the Fright Night remake.”

“Very weird mix of people on this one.”

“I saw a trailer before Wolf of Wall Street. It looked okay. Pretty standard sports movie. Plus it’s Disney, so I already know the formula.”

“We’ll call it 3 stars. I can’t really see this going anywhere else but 3. 3.5 if it gets me emotional or has enough human moments in it to spite the formulaic nature of the plot, and 2.5 if it’s too generic and formulaic. I imagine it’ll still be 3 regardless though.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s pleasant. You know what it is. You know what you’re getting. It doesn’t meet a sports movie trope it doesn’t include.”

“Not surprising at all, completely tries to rip off Slumdog in some ways (music, actors)… you can guess this movie beat for beat.”

“But the flip side to that is… it’s always going to be totally fine. Watchable, likable enough… it’s a movie you can see will be 3 stars from a mile away. These are always the easiest to guess.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s exactly what you think it is.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Immigrant

What I said about it back in January:

“James Gray’s new movie.”

“It’s gone through a bunch of titles.”

“I heard good things.”

3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I liked the movie. I respect the movie. But I didn’t love the movie.”

“The best part about it is Marion Cotillard. I did not expect her to actually do full on immigrant.”

“Overall, I liked the movie, and, while I will think of it positively, my feelings for it aren’t so strong as to highly recommend it to people.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I agree. It’s a fine movie, and a moderate recommend. Worth seeing.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

A Night in Old Mexico

What I said about it back in January:

“I’m seeing this.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Not a great movie. But I’ll take Robert Duvall in anything.”

“Ultimately, it was watchable. And that’s all I need.”

“It’s nice to see Duvall still acting.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Same thoughts as above. Anything Duvall is good enough for me.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Palo Alto

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Probably because I was hoping I’d never have to actually see it.

What I actually thought about it:

Did not like this. I will not elaborate any further, because looking at this, there was absolutely no reason for me to ever like this. So this comes as no surprise to absolutely anybody at all.

* * (2 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Hated this.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

God’s Pocket

What I said about it back in January:

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s got people in it, but it’s just all right. Mostly I didn’t care. I got through it. Almost 3 stars, but ultimately… meh.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Complete indifference.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Parts Per Billion

What I said about it back in January:

“Starring Teresa Palmer, Rosario Dawson, Alexis Bledel, Josh Hartnett, Penn Badgley, Frank Langella and Gena Rowlands.”

2.5 stars.”

“I think it’s sci-fi.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Interesting movie. Execution didn’t interest me, but conceptually, I was in.”

“I was almost interested, but ultimately I didn’t care. It’s got a nice cast, but it’s just a movie that’s there. Maybe you see it, maybe you don’t.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah. Almost interested, but ultimately indifferent.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Coherence

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Saw a trailer and thought it might be interesting.

What I actually thought about it:

“This is a weird movie. I thought I was getting more than I got, but it was all right.”

“Not too crazy to recommend, and not too out there to say to disregard. So it ends up in a weird place.”

“I’m sure not many people will ever end up seeing this. But I imagine in the right setting, this could be very enjoyable. So, three stars, wasn’t bad, that’s all I got.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Not too good, not too bad. Just kind of there. Moderately decent rating, moderately decent movie.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

X-Men: Days of Future Past

What I said about it back in January:

“I’m excited for this.”

“I have my concerns, of course, but this is really the only superhero franchise I have to look forward to anymore.”

“The concept is pretty brilliant, bringing both versions of the story back into one, which they sort of hinted at last time, with Wolverine, and the Rebecca Romijn cameo… It’s allowing us to go back to these characters we love, and also continue the story of the first film without really having the drawbacks of that universe that the first film had (namely — shitty mutants).”

“It also seems they’re sticking with Ratner continuity and keeping Jean and Cyclops dead. From the sound of the trailer, they must bring Xavier back in some way. I don’t know. I don’t really care either way. I’m still gonna be excited to see it, whichever way they go.”

3.5 stars. Let’s not presume too much, but I’d very much like this to be 4 stars. If this is 3 stars, I will consider it one of the biggest disappointments of the year. But Bryan Singer knows how to do X-Men. It’s his third movie, and his first two were great. So let’s assume this will be great too.”

“I need this to be great.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Amazing. Absolutely amazing.”

“It was just a well executed movie, all the way through.”

“And then, at the end, where they basically said ‘fuck you’ to Bret Ratner, and ultimately ended up making this movie, and spending $200 million, just to undo what he did to the franchise. That was the cherry on top of the whole thing.”

“I always like the X-Men movies. Now my only question is how they’re going to handle Apocalypse in the next one.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Still loved this. Obvious tier 2 for the year. Great movie. Favorite since X2.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. But clearly right there.

Blended

What I said about it back in January:

“Do I even need to go over this one?”

“This is #1 with a bullet Unforgivable. I already know.”

“Usually I wait to make such proclamations, but if there’s anything close to a sure thing, it’s Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore together.”

“Every single year since I started my Unforgivables list, the #1 movie on every list has featured Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, or Drew Barrymore. Every single one. One of them had two of them in it. If this movie isn’t Unforgivable, then I’m pretty sure the end is nigh.”

Eleventy Billion stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Yeah…”

* ½ (1.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Oh, you’ll get them.

You’ll get them.

* ½ (1.5 stars)

(Oh, P.S. I did some further thinking… the four people who have alternated the Unforgivables list every year since I started making it: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman. Not one #1 Unforgivable hasn’t featured at least one of those four people.)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Love Punch

What I said about it back in January:

“Comedy of remarriage.”

“Directed by the guy who did Last Chance Harvey, which was great.”

“Still in.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s a middle-age comedy of remarriage. With screwball elements. And British. Not for everyone. In fact, I’m pretty sure a lot of people are going to hate it.”

“I’ll tell you this — the dude’s previous film, Last Chance Harvey, was really sweet and really underrated.”

“And here, he went for something completely different. And I don’t fault him for that at all. I mean, it gets really ridiculous toward the end, but that’s what screwball comedies to.”

“So while it is… out there, when they go through with their scheme, it only seems crazier because it’s been about 70 years since those kinds of plots were featured in movies.”

“Ultimately, Emma Thompson is great in everything, and I always like Pierce Brosnan. So I was fine with this movie. It’s not great, but it’s watchable, and that’s all I need.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s watchable. And it reminds me of a great era in movies that no longer exists. I’d rather that than a superhero movie.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

What I said about it back in January:

“It sounds like I could enjoy it. I love the title.”

3 stars. Still very much interested in this.”

What I actually thought about it:

“He’s almost too angry.”

“I mean, sure, the concept is great, but when you see how angry he is, it almost feels to over the top.”

“I’d say it’s worth a single watch, just because of the cast. But ultimately it doesn’t amount to much more than that.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yup. Fine, but could have been better. Ultimately, it’s all right.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Cold in July

What I said about it back in January:

“Starring Michael C. Hall and Sam Shepard.”

“Doesn’t sound interesting.”

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Indifferent. Not a bad movie, I just… didn’t care. Not their fault. Just not entirely for me. It happens.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Indifference.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Night Moves

What I said about it back in January:

“Kelly Reichardt’s new movie. Which means I’ll see it.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I can always count on certain directors to do the exact same thing almost every time and for me to feel the exact same way about their films every time.”

“Kelly Reichardt is one of those directors for me. All of her films… they’re okay. I’m not in love with them. I respect them. I think they’re perfectly good movies. I don’t think they’re masterpieces and I don’t think they’re shit.”

“I think of her as the hipster Terrence Malick. Which isn’t so much a knock against her so much as my way of saying… hipsters fucking love these movies.”

“Didn’t care, got through it. Same as always.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Same as always.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Maleficent

What I said about it back in January:

“I like that they’re telling this from the point of view of the villain. But on the other hand — how much sympathy could they build for her?”

“It seems like it’s gonna be man-related, because that’s the only thing that can ‘harden’ a woman’s heart in the movies. Probably the king or something. Left her for the queen. I’ll give them props if they find a way to not make that part generic.”

“But I like the Sleeping Beauty story, and they’re clearly keeping with all the famous Disney imagery. And since I consider Sleeping Beauty to be the best-looking Disney film ever made, that’s not a bad thing at all.”

“Honestly, I want this to be 3.5 stars. I’ll take full responsibility if this ends up being 3 or 2.5. But honestly — we’re dealing with a better story here than Snow White and the Huntsman. That was a bad basis for a story, and there was just too much shittiness there. Here, I don’t see that much room for stupidity and pointless action. The fairies are one thing, and I can go along with that. That doesn’t seem like it’s enough to drop it to 2.5 for me. And then, what — Prince Phillip is an army captain? I’m pretty sure he’s got his action scene at the end when she turns into the dragon.”

“I’m sticking 3.5 here. I want this to be good. I’ll accept 3, but I want 3.5.”

“(This is one of those where I know I should know better, but am still doing it. I do this every year.)”

What I actually thought about it:

“I should have known better. And I did. I knew this wouldn’t be as good as I was expecting. Or hoping for. But whatever. My problem with this movie is that it was pitched and advertised as something it’s not.”

“This isn’t a movie about Maleficent. This is a remake of Sleeping Beauty as told from the point of view of Maleficent. That’s all it is. They pretended like it was about how she became who she was, but there’s really no backstory given here. That is to say… there is no real characterization for how Maleficent became evil. It just sort of tells you what happened, but you don’t feel it.”

“This is a glorified Sleeping Beauty remake with 20 minutes of, “Oh yeah, here’s what preceded it, since the villain is our protagonist, just so we don’t have to say it’s a Sleeping Beauty remake.” And then they altered the third act. Because they could, I guess.”

“We don’t see her turning evil, we don’t follow her on an emotional journey, we’re just telling the same story the 1959 movie did, only pretending it’s about someone else. Which is bullshit. Why is this movie only 97 minutes? (I mean, I’m grateful, but you can spend 2 hours here with a story like this. This movie is 97 minutes with filler.)”

“If you really wanted to make “Maleficent,” you wouldn’t introduce Aurora until the 60-minute mark. The first hour should be entirely Maleficent. Anything else is a scam. And that’s what this movie is. A scam. This isn’t what they advertised. And that’s a shame. Because you could have made something good, instead of telling the same story to make money. And, to be quite honest, that might just make this movie Unforgivable.”

“It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s that they essentially did what Hollywood (and especially Disney) nowadays does: forego an interesting or unique story for basically going back and redoing what was already done with some surface-level “twist” to it. And they just changed the ending, because, “Hey, we can start a new franchise.” Artifice.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Depending on how things shake out, you might be getting more of them in about ten days. But essentially… my opinion stands. It’s perfectly watchable (to an extent), but why? Why make the same thing over again instead of following through on your premise?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. (But I knew exactly what was going to happen, if that counts for anything.)

A Million Ways to Die in the West

What I said about it back in January:

“Seth MacFarlane’s next movie. He’s starring in this one. I guess… officially. Technically he starred in the other one, too.”

“It sounds fun as hell. I’m crazy excited for this.”

4 stars.”

“I should go 3.5, but this is a western. And I fucking love westerns.”

“So I’m sticking with 4. I want this to be great.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This is not Ted. This movie actually tells a story.”

“To the point where, after they introduced the story, when they went back to the gags, I thought less of the movie. They didn’t need to resort back to them. Yet they did. And that was a shame.”

“Ultimately, the movie was pretty funny, and I love westerns. So this ended up somewhere between 3 and 3.5, but because it’s a genre I love, it was going to get the benefit of the doubt.”

“I do commend Seth MacFarlane for actually telling more of a story here. I wish that next time he has the conviction to go more down that route than doubling back to dick jokes.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I did think this was really funny. And liked the conviction to tell a story. Still, wanted more story and less dick jokes at certain points.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. But I’m not surprised. At least I liked it.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is June.

http://bplusmovieblog.com

2 responses

  1. My issue with Godzilla was…you don’t go to a movie like this for the humans. Which I fully accept. But when you go and assemble a really strong cast, and THEN give them generic monster-movie characters and dialogue…I have an issue with that.

    And killing off Bryan Cranston was just insane. He was so great in it, and to deprive us of him and stick us with Aaron Taylor-Johnson (whom I don’t dislike, but whom Hollywood seems not to know what to do with)…I’m not cool with that.

    The monster scenes were great. Loved how they handled the ending. But this teased me with more and didn’t follow through.

    December 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm

  2. I can’t wait to see you rant on Blended. That’ll be a real treat.

    December 21, 2014 at 1:12 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.