2014: The Year in Reviews (June)

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 June:

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).

June

Edge of Tomorrow

What I said about it back in January:

“I’ve been hearing about this for years. Originally it was a black list script called “All You Need Is Kill.” It was basically Groundhog Day but a sci-fi action movie.”

“And then Tom Cruise took over.”

“I’m worried about this. I normally like Tom Cruise movies, but lately… he’s been very hit or miss. Oblivion was really not that amazing, and I’m worried that this could turn out in much the same way. I liked Jack Reacher, though, which leads me to believe this might also be worthwhile.”

“I guess I have to say 3 stars. I want it to go higher, and I doubt it can go lower. 3 stars is the “generic but watchable” action movie rating for me. So I’ll assume 3 for sure, and hope it goes higher. It’s Doug Liman, who…. he has a good track record, but he also hasn’t directed anything really good in a while, and has a proclivity for making movies with lots of script changes and reshoots. So I don’t know what to make of this.”

“I’ll stick with 3, and hope this bumps up to 3.5.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Honestly, this is a good movie. Very enjoyable, and very well done.”

“I was worried about the original writer not even being credited, and the script being completely overhauled, but even that didn’t seem to ruin the premise.”

“I really enjoyed this, and my only issues with it were that there were points where I wanted to see more trial and error regarding the time loop, and then maybe a little bit at the end. The whole ‘destroying the mothership’ thing.”

“It felt a bit watered down around the edges, since it could have been a little grittier, but that’s to be expected. Overall, I got a movie I quite enjoyed. And while it won’t end up as more than a tier 3 movie for me, that’s still good enough.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I still like it. It was a good movie. It’s entertaining, the concept is great, and my only knock on it is that it’s not as good as it could have been. Which… Hollywood. So I’m not gonna fault them for that. This was a really solid movie, and, next to Jack Reacher, Cruise’s best non-M:I movie (that he starred in. Tropic Thunder doesn’t count) in a decade. You actually have to go back to Last Samurai and Collateral for something as good as this. (Those were better, obviously, but still… he’s had a rough decade.)

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

The Fault in Our Stars

What I said about it back in January:

“It sounds pretty good. Shailene Woodley is always good for choosing good material, I feel.”

3.5 stars. Maybe I’m overeager and this ends up being 3, but whatever. I’m trusting Shailene Woodley.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I actually liked it. I’m not gonna pretend like I thought it was just fine. I actually did like it.”

“Maybe it’s Shailene Woodley, maybe it’s just the tone they took with her character. Maybe it’s both, I don’t know. But what I thought for sure would be a 3 star movie actually ended up making me like it quite a bit.”

“I’m sure it wouldn’t hold up on repeated watches, but the one time, I liked it more than I thought I would, and I’m okay with that.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Wow, really, I went 3.5 in January? Must have been the June release date. I mean… that took some balls. I must have really been optimistic. Or maybe I just really like Shailene Woodley.

But that sure worked out, didn’t it?

This is more one of those one-time 3.5s and not a longstanding 3.5, but still, the rating stands. I liked this, and I’m okay with that.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Obvious Child

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Kind of came out of nowhere.

What I actually thought about it:

“I went in expecting typical 3-star indie bullshit. And I got 3.5 star indie, with some bullshit. Which I’m okay with.”

“It was straddling the line between 3 and 3.5, but I ultimately caved and gave it the 3.5. I did enjoy it more than I thought I would.”

“Really solid. Good for them.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah… liked it. Not a strong 3.5, but more of a “better than I expected” 3.5. This is a movie that I’d have automatically gone 3 stars with and expected nothing but either 3 or 3.5 out of. So the fact that I liked it enough to go 3.5 is a testament to the movie. Probably not gonna end up in the Top Ten article at the end of the year, but it was still a better than expected movie, which I will always appreciate.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

A Long Way Down

What I said about it back in January:

“Based on a Nick Hornby book.”

“Solid cast.”

“Still interested, given the fact that it takes place over one night.”

3 stars. I hope it’s higher.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I liked it.”

“I’m sure the book is better than this movie was, but the movie’s not bad.”

“I like the cast.”

“Ultimately, it’s watchable. See it for the cast, if anything. Otherwise, it’s just an okay movie. Nothing more.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It doesn’t take place over one night. But I was still correct and it was still watchable.

Imogen Poots is amazing. Always.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Trust Me

What I said about it back in January:

“Could go anywhere.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Really liked this.”

“One of those subjects you don’t ever see movies about, yet is really captivating.”

“Another one of those underrated movies from this year.”

“Check this one out. You won’t be disappointed. It’s an indie, but it’s still good.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I liked it.

Probably wouldn’t hold 3.5 over time, but as I was watching it, I was 3.5 invested. If that makes sense. So I’m sticking with 3.5.

I liked it, even if it is… well, let’s just say that the third act doesn’t have to go the way it goes. But the movie was still engaging, and I liked the performances. So we’ll give it the “you haven’t seen this, but it’s solid” 3.5. This movie deserves an audience. That’s worth a half-star bump (and it’s not even a half-star. It’s like, .25 of a star).

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

22 Jump Street

What I said about it back in January:

“I’m cool with this. The first one surprised the shit out of me in terms of how funny it was.”

“I’m not gonna assume this will be the same, because then I’m just asking for a letdown.”

“I’m gonna say 3 stars and hope this jumps up to the 3.5 I’d probably expect for this most of the time. (I have to keep low expectations with comedy. That’s the only way I end up liking them.)”

What I actually thought about it:

“I like the conceit of them going all in, knowingly commenting on the fact that the sequel is always higher budgeted and never as good.”

“It was funny enough. Definitely didn’t have the spark of the first one, which was going to be impossible to have.”

“I’ll take three stars from this. I laughed enough, and it’s probably the best sequel we were going to get for this movie. So I’m satisfied.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Fucking Mumford and Sons, homes.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

What I said about it back in January:

“Well, the first one was very enjoyable.” I can’t honestly say I needed there to be a second one.”

“I pretty much know what I’m getting here. I’m not expecting much, and since it’s taking place in a certain time period, that should keep the pop culture references and usual annoying traits found in DreamWorks animation low enough for this to maintain 3 stars.”

“It might be 2.5, but we’ll stick with 3 for now, since I’ll assume, based on the first one, it’ll be pleasant. I’d be shocked if this ended up as anything but 2.5 or 3.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I moderately liked the first movie. This felt like a natural sequel. In that I just didn’t care.”

“The parts of the first one that I liked were him bonding with the dragon. Here, they’re just telling a story, and giving you more. More dragons. Bigger dragons. I didn’t really care about any of it.”

“I like that they’re not overloading us with pop culture references (though pop music seems to be a requisite for animated movies now), but otherwise — I didn’t feel any connection to this movie.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yup. Just didn’t care. Even a little bit. Indifference all the way.

People seemed to love this more than the first one. I just truly did not care for a single moment of this movie. And I was a fan of the first one, so I’m not just saying that on principle.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star, but essentially right.

The Rover

What I said about it back in January:

“Australian western.”

“Seeing this.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This was weird. Very watchable, but weird.”

“I have no idea what he was ultimately going for with this, but it definitely was an interesting film.”

“I’ll give this a moderate thumbs up….Solid three.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, solid three. Prefer Animal Kingdom, but this was very watchable and not a bad movie in any way.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Hellion

What I said about it back in January:

“Written and directed by a woman!”

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Indifference. That’s really all I have to say about this one. Just… didn’t care. That’s it.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yup. Didn’t care. Complete indifference. Only one rating for that.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Signal

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I tend to skip these, assuming most of them are bullshit and won’t really be released. I probably shouldn’t do that, but if I don’t, that adds unnecessary movies I feel obligated to see.

What I actually thought about it:

Well-made, but I didn’t care. You might like it, though. Might be worth a shot.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Conceptually, there’s some interesting stuff going on, but I still didn’t care very much. I’ll give it a 2.5 but will definitely say to check it out if you think you’re gonna like it. It’s well-made for its budget, and if anything, potentially gives you someone to look out for in the future.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Jersey Boys

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s a movie of the Jersey Boys musical. About the Four Seasons.”

“Directed by Clint Eastwood.”

“Not sure why Clint Eastwood is directing this, but it’s fascinating to me nonetheless.”

“I guess because A Star Is Born fell through, so he went over to this.”

“I can’t honestly say I’m expecting much.”

“All the leads, I believe, are mostly the ones from the show, and Christopher Walken has a part (which — bless him for that), but honestly — I really don’t know what I’m getting here. It seems like a musical designed for middle-aged white people.”

“So let’s call it 3 stars. I feel like 3.5 is a ceiling on this for me, and this really has potential to drop way lower. But I want to trust Clint Eastwood, since all of his movies have over the past decade been 3 stars. So let’s call it three and let the movie decide what it’s going to be.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Did anyone tell Clint Eastwood this was a musical? Where the fuck were the songs?”

“Really weird choices were made with this. There are no movie stars in it, so you have Broadway actors trying to carry a movie, and it just doesn’t translate. None of the actors are allowed to show their talents. It’s like the movie just wants to get itself over with.”

“Also, just what he needed: a movie with makeup in it. Because J. Edgar worked out so well for him on that front.”

“Did he really not use “December 1963” in the movie and throw it into the credits? And that’s the only song and dance number? What the fuck?”

“The whole thing feels like a complete missed opportunity.”

“I hate to say it, but it feels like it was directed by an 83 year old.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah. That’s about it. It’s fine and all, but definitely is missing energy and musical numbers. I didn’t dislike it, but compared to what this could have been… it’s not there. The broadway stars don’t translate, there’s almost no music, and it just feels like it’s going through the motions. That’s always been the one thing for me with Clint Eastwood and this late career directing renaissance of his. I don’t feel the energy in the movies. It feels like he’s just getting them made, and the only times they’re ever really good is when the actors are really good. So this whole thing feels like a missed opportunity, and proves that you should probably either have someone familiar with the medium, or someone with a lot of energy (or both) to direct your musical.

Hopefully American Sniper turned out better. We’ll find out in six days.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Think Like a Man Too

What I said about it back in January:

“Oh boy, a sequel.”

“Why is Kevin Hart in every black movie this year?”

“Also, didn’t see the first one, so this is an automatic skip for me.”

“Enjoy counting all the money, Steve Harvey!”

What I actually thought about it:

Didn’t see it. Was never going to.

But I think that was always going to be the review of this one: “Enjoy counting all the money, Steve Harvey.”

How close was I?: N/A

Venus in Fur

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Somehow. Which is weird, since I was up on this the whole time, and knew it was coming out. Guess it just slipped through somehow.

What I actually thought about it:

“It was fine.”

“I don’t have much else to say.”

“Definitely gonna be one of the forgotten entries in Polanski’s filmography. But hey, at least he’s making movies.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, it was fine. Wouldn’t watch it again, but it was all right. I’ll stick with 3, even though I barely remember it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Very Good Girls

What I said about it back in January:

“Written and directed by a woman, starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen.”

3 stars.”

“The supporting cast is strong, so I’m still interested.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Yeah… it was all right.”

“Indie. Feels like an indie.”

“Liked it well enough.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yup. Totally fine. Liked it well enough. Indie. Those are my feelings.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

They Came Together

What I said about it back in January:

“Oh-kay.”

“It’s a David Wain movie, that’s why I was surprised. You’d think there’d be more of a synopsis than that.”

“Wain always gets a cast.”

“Call it 3 stars. Wain is always good for 3.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Took me a couple of minutes to realize what the film was doing, but once I got into it, it was really funny.”

“It’s the kind of humor that goes all in on its concept and sticks with”

“It’s very well put together, and is a very smart movie. Possibly even too smart. It’s the kind of smart movie that almost seems dumb. To the point where it may be dumb. But that’s exactly the kind of movie that David Wain and that crew always make.”

“Put it this way — this is a romantic comedy that knows it’s a romantic comedy, and deliberately plays with all the obvious romantic comedy tropes. But by embracing them. Strongly. And I found that really funny.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Really funny movie. Wain’s style of humor always wins me over. I think this is a movie people need to see. Because not enough people have.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

Third Person

What I said about it back in January:

“Written and directed by Paul Haggis.”

3 stars. Haggis is hit and miss. Let’s play the odds.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Is this Haggis going back to the wheelhouse?”

“There are likable people in this, and I was invested enough in them to keep going, but ultimately, this movie amounted to nothing.”

“It’s watchable, and Paul Haggis knows how to do watchable with a cast. But otherwise… meh.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah… watchable because of the cast, but ultimately it amounts to nothing, and tonally doesn’t work to even give it that art film feel. Worth a watch for the cast (maybe), but don’t go out of your way. It’s fine, but it’ll be instantly forgotten.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Snowpiercer

What I said about it back in January:

“I’ve been waiting for this to come out for a year.”

“Still waiting to see what the deal is with the cut. The original cut apparently played really well, but the Weinsteins are cutting it down. So the end result of this is gonna be interesting.”

“Still, I’ll say 3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I fucking loved this.”

“I love the idea of a movie that takes place entirely on a train and works its way from the back to the front. The movie itself was probably more like a 3.5 star movie, but I gave it the extra half star because of all the possibilities it kept me thinking about while watching it. So I enjoyed this.”

“It’s a fun movie. And it’s unique. And those stand out to me. So this’ll end up as being one of the movies of 2014 I liked best because of that.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I think I agree with what I said. It’s probably a 3.5 star movie, but the amount of possibilities it left open for my brain to wander and think about during it give it that extra half-star bump. That happened with The Purge last year. Not many movies have a concept so good that it gets you to thinking about just how much more can be done with it. So I’ll stick with the rating. I still really liked this movie and will think of it very highly because of that concept.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

Begin Again

What I said about it back in January:

“John Carney’s first movie that anyone’s heard of since Once.”

“It premiered at Toronto, got picked up by the Weinsteins, but got held back. The reviews said — and I think I’m quoting one of them, that ‘Once is enough.'”

“My guess is audiences might find it more likable, and the Weinsteins will position it for a late summer release and some sort of Oscar campaign if it makes any sort of waves. (I’m guessing.)”

“Either way, 3.5 stars (still sounds like something I’d like).”

What I actually thought about it:

“I get why people hated this. I get why people would be disappointed with this. But it’s not shit.”

“I know there will be people who really loved this movie, and will continue to love this movie, despite most people being pretty indifferent and negative about the whole thing. And you’re right.”

“It’s not a bad movie. I didn’t love it. But it’s not bad.”

“The problem with this one, for a lot of people, is that they were comparing it to Once, which is a… Once in a lifetime kind of movie. (I regret nothing.)”

“That movie felt organic….Whereas this movie… is not that. It’s scripted, it has a finely cultivated soundtrack, and is kind of a version of Once made with more money, which is exactly what that movie wasn’t about. So I get why people feel this is disingenuous (especially considering the fact that it casts a member of Maroon 5 in a movie that’s supposed to be about music being made from the heart and not for the purposes of fame).”

“Half the cast is on a reality singing competition show. That’s complete horse shit. And that’s the kind of stuff that works against what is ultimately a nice, pleasant little movie that’s not trying to hurt anybody. The only thing this movie hurts is itself, by doing exactly what it’s trying not to have its characters do, which is sell out. And that part is a shame.”

“I’d have wanted more of them putting together the album rather than montaging through it. That’s where this movie feels disingenuous. It’s trying to tell the story with a plot than through the music.”

“Watch this movie once and then listen to the Once soundtrack for the umpteenth time. But know, there is a better movie in here that wasn’t fully realized.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I think I hit it right on the head. Where this movie feels disingenuous is that it’s Hollywood trying to make something unpretentious. It’s the classic story. Ever see the movie The TV Set? Guy tries to make this little drama about his brother dying, and the studio turns it into a sitcom. That’s what this is like. They’re trying to tell a story in the style of Once, about the beauty of music, and yet… Cee Lo and Adam Levine are in it. It sells out, when it could have told the story and focused on the music and the worst thing people could have said about it was, “We saw this before.” Which… we liked it before, so that’s not a bad thing. So, there’s a better movie in there that could have flourished, but instead ended up as a bit of a disappointment, even though I still enjoyed it for what it was.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

What I said about it back in January:

“I like how they worked in the fact that there will be Michael Bay humor within the synopsis. Just in case we weren’t sure there was going to be an over-the-top character.”

“But hey, it’s Bay, it’s Transformers – I assume this will be worth my time, as all of the other ones were. (Revenge of the Fallen… ehh, all right. barely. But at least there were explosions and shit.)”

“I really want him to stick with the actual Transformers stuff than shit with the humans. It seems like he’s not gonna do that, and is gonna make this about Wahlberg, which I don’t know if I care about.”

“So, 3.5 stars. At this point I need more robots fighting than human stories. So I’m downgrading to 3.5 and hoping the movie hits 4 on its own.”

What I actually thought about it:

“What are we expecting at this point? We know I’m an unabashed fan of these movies. Hell, Revenge of the Fallen was an unholy piece of shit and I still give that 3.5 stars.”

“I got exactly what I was hoping for.”

“You know I love Bay. So I won’t pretend like I didn’t like every minute of this.”

“This will drop to 3.5 come year’s end like they all do, but fuck it. I enjoy watching these movies in the theater, and that’s who I am.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s not a very good movie. But I always enjoy the shit out of these. They aways drop, but I always like them more than I probably should. That’s the deal.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is July.

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