2015: The Year in Reviews (February)

Look, this is the fifth year I’m doing this. You guys know what it is by now. Every January I go over everything scheduled to come out, and about 200 more movies, just to be safe. I guess what I’m gonna think about them, and then immediately forget I did it. Then, in December, I recap everything I saw and see how I did.

I put up batches of reviews for everything I saw, once in April, once in August, and once… yesterday. Those contain my initial thoughts on the films after I saw them. I take those thoughts and match them against what I said back in January, plus I take some time to reflect upon how my thoughts have changed in the time between when I saw the movie and now (since only crazy people develop a final opinion on a movie after a single watch). It’s very straightforward. Plus… five years. I know you’re supposed to treat every person as if they’re reading for the first time, but there’s only like twelve of us who read the crap I write anyway.

Today we’re recapping February:

Oh, yeah, also, so my ratings system makes sense, here’s how it works:

* * * * * (5 stars) — I really loved the film. Five stars essentially guarantees the film a spot in the top ten. I’ve never had a five star film not make the top ten. (2014 examples of 5 star movies: There actually were none.)

* * * * 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 below top 15. (2014 examples of 4.5 star films: Birdman, Fury, Interstellar, Whiplash.)

* * * * (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, 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 really good. Four star movies are either in my 11-20 or tier two. It’s also not unheard of that a 4 star movie makes the top ten. (2014 examples of 4 star films: Boyhood, Cher, Godzilla, The Guest, Snowpiercer, Top Five.)

* * * 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, “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 verstaile ranking. 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. (2014 examples of 3.5 star films: American Sniper, The Babadook, The Double, Edge of Tomorrow, Frank, Still Alice.)

* * * (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. (2014 examples of 3 star films: Beyond the Lights, Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Lego Movie, Need for Speed, 22 Jump Street, White Bird in a Blizzard.)

* * 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. (2014 examples of 2.5 star films: Hercules, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Ride Along, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Veronica Mars.)

* * (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. (2014 examples of 2 star films: Dracula Untold, Dumb and Dumber To, I Frankenstein, Wish I Was Here.)

* 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. (2014 examples of 1.5 star films: Blended, Sex Tape, Tammy.)

* (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. (2014 examples of 1 star films: Addicted.)

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. (2014 examples of 0 star films: Heaven Is For Real.)

February

Jupiter Ascending

What I said about it back in January:

“This one puts me in a weird position. They bumped it out of the summer. They had the prime summer date. And then they put it here. They said it was so they could finish it, which might be the case. But it’s still in February.”

“I’m also worried, given the simplicity of the story (this is basically Snow White), that the Wachowskis diluted their own instincts to make something that would make money.”

“But you know what? This needs to prove it’s a disappointment. I’m gonna remain positive.”

3.5 stars. This isn’t going below 3. There’s no way it goes below 3. And I don’t think it will get to 4, even though I hope it does. Gotta stay positive on this one.”

“This way, I can rightly put it on the Most Disappointing Movies of the Year list if this doesn’t pan out.”

What I actually thought about it:

“We all saw this one coming.”

“This is not very good at all. This is them trying to appeal to everyone. It’s basically Cinderella mixed with The Matrix mixed with some sort of Shakespeare.”

“The climax of this movie is a scene at the DMV.”

“No idea what they were going for here. I figured they tried to manufacture a good movie, since their last two movies (while great), no one saw. I can’t tell with them, if they can ever make a good movie again. I hope they can.”

“This one was a huge misfire, and if I really wanted to guess correctly with this, I would have figured it went where it did. This had disappointment written all over it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

The climax of this movie really is a scene at the DMV. And then Channing Tatum is part wolf, Sean Bean is a bee, lizard people, dogs and cats living together — it’s fucking chaos.

This is easily one of the five biggest disappointments of 2015, just because the Wachowskis have proven themselves such unique voices in cinema who manage to create beautiful and amazing films despite not necessarily having them be successful (Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas). And here they are, seemingly having forgotten how to tell a story, or worse, trying recreate past success by repeating formula. And there’s fucking LIZARD PEOPLE IN THIS MOVIE. And not even the good kind of lizard people.

* * * (3 stars)

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

The Voices

What I said about it back in January:

“Oh, I think we all know how excited I am for this one.”

“If you don’t know anything about this movie… don’t find out. Don’t read anything, don’t watch anything. Just see the movie. Trust me on that.”

“Do you like interesting movies? Do you like unique movies? Do you like funny movies? Do you like dark comedies? Do you like really dark comedies, where the laughs come from some of the most disturbing situations? You need to see this one.”

4 stars. If this movie is done even mostly right, I’m getting 3.5 stars.”

“If they manage to translate this script as-written to the screen, down to a very specific music choice at the climax of the movie… it’s gonna get to 4 stars. And I’m going to rank it very highly come the end of the year. Cannot wait for this one.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I had very high hopes for this movie. Very, very high hopes. Because the script was one of the best I’d ever read. It was so fucked up and funny. And the fact that this movie even got made is a miracle. But, of course, I was worried all along. Because it’s an easy movie to fuck up.”

“While it’s not everything I hoped it would be… it’s pretty damn close.”

“It feels like almost all the dialogue from the script is there. They get a lot of the fucked up dark comedy out of it. I feel like certain things could have been done better. The script makes perfect use of “The Macarena,” which the movie does not. And if the movie had actually went through with that and done what the script did, then this would have been a top 10 movie of the year for me. Maybe top 20 at worst. But it didn’t. So I’m left with a very solid movie that I really like, that doesn’t fuck up a great script.”

“It’s a better version of Draft Day, in that regard. It doesn’t fuck up the script, but it also doesn’t get the most out of it that it could.”

“If you don’t know anything about this movie, go see it and don’t read about it.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I haven’t gone back to watch this again, but I have such fond memories of the script that even if the second viewing of this isn’t as good as the first, it would only end up being 3.5 instead of 4. I still think this was really good. The script was so funny, and the movie, while not reaching the dark comedy heights of the script, is a really sickly funny movie that I’m so glad got made.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Ballet 422

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Part of the Great Documentary Purge of 2015.

What I actually thought about it:

“It was fine. Showed a ballet being produced and performed. Short. Effective enough.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Okay.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Seventh Son

What I said about it back in January:

“Oh boy. This has looked like a disaster since day one. The moment they dumped it here, we all knew. I mean, we all knew, but this way, they confirmed it.”

2 stars.”

“Not even gonna pretend like I think this can be any good.”

“If this makes 2.5 stars, I’d be surprised. Not pleasantly surprised, but surprised.”

“This looks like an I, Frankenstein level disaster. Which means, not Unforgivable, but bottom 15 most likely.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This was the piece of shit we were all expecting.”

“Goddamn, was this bad. Not Unforgivable, just because, like I, Frankenstein… we knew what we were getting. But man, was it awful.”

* * (2 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It takes a special kind of movie for me to guess 2 stars and for it to actually be 2 stars.

This was just a mess. This is what happens when someone so blindly tries to follow the trends (YA, Game of Thrones) they don’t look at the fact that they have a really terrible idea, script and movie on their hands.

This is the piece of shit we deserve, but not the one we need right now.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Love, Rosie

What I said about it back in January:

2.5 stars.”

“I don’t even know if I went three before, but now for sure this is 2.5. Gotta figure indifference.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This is a great movie in theory.”

“It’s definitely one of those movies that probably would have done better a decade ago. And with a better director.”

“It starts to strain credulity at times, but overall, I liked it, and I wanted it to be better than it was.”

“I will recommend this movie for people to see, just because I think there’s a lot of good in here that doesn’t quite attain the level of great movie.”

“If you’re someone like me who will always overrate a movie with a good concept that doesn’t live up to that concept, because you spend the boring moments thinking about all the other possibilities of how the story could be told and how you’d have told it differently, which makes you think the movie was better than it was, then this is for you.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I actually enjoyed this. I think the general premise is good, and while it doesn’t quite get all the way to “good movie,” it’s perfectly fine. It’s a drama that they play as a comedy for parts of it. And the tonal shifts don’t quite work. But like I said, I’d rather a movie with a good premise that doesn’t quite live up to it than a movie that’s just fine but not special. At least here I was able to think of how this could be better. So I’m all right with this movie.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Accidental Love

What I said about it back in January:

“This used to be called Nailed. And it used to be directed by David O. Russell.”

“Until they shut down production. And then he reevaluated his priorities and came back as an Oscar darling. But the movie stayed in limbo and now the producers recut it and are putting it out to try to make some money off of it.”

“How this can turn out to be good is beyond me, but I’m willing to give it a shot.”

“I’ll say 3 stars since there’s gotta be at least some of Russell left in there.”

“But I’ll also say… there’s a chance this could be Unforgivable. We’ll find out. It’s coming out in two weeks.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s awful.”

“Jessica Biel has moments of being good, but otherwise, the whole thing is just tonally not there at all.”

“It’s a gigantic mess of a movie that doesn’t know if it wants to be a comedy, rom com or satire. And maybe that’s because Russell never finished it or got to be in the editing room to handle the tone. I don’t know.”

“It’s hard to figure how much of this is actually owed to Russell himself. Since at least 40% of the finished product is footage he shot.”

“I do know, however, that this movie was not very good. And it’s only because I like the cast that I was able to get through it and call it flat out indifference.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’m being lenient when I keep this at 2.5 stars, but it was watchable. It’s just a giant mess. And it’s actually the kind of movie that shouldn’t exist. I’m toying with the idea of just how low this is gonna go for me, but let’s see where we end up.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I only heard about it like ten days before it premiered. Originally I wasn’t going to give a shit, but I heard how fucked up it was, and everyone at the office started talking about it, so I binged the whole thing right before the last episode.

What I actually thought about it:

“It was really good. And fucked up. Most people know about this because of the press it got.”

“What you know about it is better than the actual documentary. You don’t need to see it if you know about it. It’s just pretty good. But it is interesting as hell, in terms of talking about with friends. So that’s worth it.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This is one of those that was fun to watch and talk about, but honestly you don’t really need to go back and watch if you know the story. The fun was seeing all the news come out and actually affect the news cycle for six weeks.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Fifty Shades of Grey

What I said about it back in January:

“This one is all hype. This won’t be any good at all.”

“I’m gonna be nice. 2.5 stars. But there’s a chance I won’t like this at all. I’d be really shocked if this even got to 3.”

What I actually thought about it:

Mike Watches Fifty Shades of Grey

* * (2 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’m gonna stick to my guns and say this isn’t an Unforgivable movie. Because to me, sure the movie is offensively bad on a lot of levels, but I see this as a base example of capitalism. A shitty book was written, and somehow it made millions of dollars and sold millions of copies. And these people said, “Let’s make money off the movie rights.” And they made a shitty movie based off of preexisting shitty material, and stupid people went to see it and it made millions of dollars. That’s not Unforgivable, that’s smart. It’s not their fault the material they had to work with was shit. Their job was to churn out a movie before the fervor died down and make $200 million. They actually made $500 million, in all. You know how much they spent on this movie? $40 million. No problems with this one except when I’m watching it.

* * (2 stars)

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

Hits

What I said about it back in January:

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I wasn’t disappointed. It wasn’t great, but it was interesting. I got through it. I’ll give it a solid okay.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Meh. Solidly okay, but nothing memorable.

How close was I?: Exact.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

What I said about it back in January:

2.5 stars.”

“I’m too old to really think this is any good. It’s for children. Indifference is the only option.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. That’s something.”

“I thought more of the movie would be out of the water. It’s really only the last 20 minutes. But the stuff in the water is what’s entertaining.”

“Overall, we got an enjoyable episode of Spongebob that the kids will enjoy. Can’t ask for more than that.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

The key for me liking this slightly more than I thought was that most of the movie was animated and underwater. That’s SpongeBob. That’s what I enjoy. It’s a very smart and funny show. So instead of a movie I had to sit through, I got a movie I enjoyed. So that was good.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Kingsman: The Secret Service

What I said about it back in January:

“I was so excited for this in October, and I couldn’t understand why they bumped it to Valentine’s Day. It makes no sense.”

“It feels like quality, but this looked like something that was dumb fun. I heard really positive things. It’s a bizarre choice. The only thing I can guess is that they somehow knew John Wick was gonna do well and stayed away from it, but this happened pretty early. This was like, three months out that they changed it. I don’t know.”

“I feel like I should guess a strong 3 for this one, but fuck it, 3.5 stars. Simple, fun action. Matthew Vaughn. I’ll take a shot with this. It was completed before they moved it and I was gonna go 3.5 then. So let’s assume it was just a dumb choice.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This was fun as shit.”

“It’s ridiculous, and there’s too much fast-mo and CGI, but overall, it’s a fun throwaway action movie.”

“No substance at all, but it’s entertaining. That’s all you need. Won’t hold up at all for me over the rest of the year, but I could see a tier three happening with this. It’s just the right amount of ridiculousness to not be terrible.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This was really fun. Still think I enjoyed Man from U.N.C.L.E. more, given the choice between the two, but still — fun. Good, unclean fun.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Last Five Years

What I said about it back in January:

“The musical version of (500) Days of Summer. That’s really all I need.”

3 stars. VOD. Can’t go the 3.5 I’d want to go. I’m gonna try to do the VOD thing this year. Prove that it’s actually a thing.”

What I actually thought about it:

“LOVED this.”

“I like that it’s an adult-themed musical. I also like that the songs aren’t done in the same style as you’d expect.”

“Definitely one of my favorites so far. This will probably end up bottom tier two top tier three for me come the end of the year.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This was a lot of fun. Don’t remember it much from 10 months ago, but I did really like this. Probably I’d go 3.5 if I watched this again, but fuck it, let’s keep it 4. It’s a modern musical where all dialogue is sung. Like a hipster Umbrellas of Cherbourg. The Beanies of Silverlake.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a full star.

The Lovers

What I said about it back in January:

“Pretty sure I’ve been tracking this since 2012.”

3 stars. Maybe I’m letting the synopsis blind me, but fuck it.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This was on my list of movies I was tracking for at least two years. At least.”

“It doesn’t make a shit lick of sense, and there’s a reason this never came out.”

“I should know better than to track movies that don’t come out after two years. But at that point I feel obligated, and… just don’t bother with this. Pretend it doesn’t exist like most of the world.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

At least this was also part of the Directors List. So I don’t feel so bad having to see it. But I thought this was boring as shit and forgot about it the second it was over.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus

What I said about it back in January:

“Spike Lee’s new movie. Black vampires. Not feeling it.”

“Spike’s been pretty bad lately.”

2.5 stars.”

“Kinda wanna go 2. But we’ll hope for indifference.”

What I actually thought about it:

“What happened to Spike Lee?”

“I don’t know what it’s supposed to be about. Stuff just… happens.”

“You can blame it on him not having money, but the writing and directing is also a lot of it. It’s like Red Hook Summer. I’m not sure what the point of them was, and what anyone is getting out of them.”

“I like it when Spike Lee has something to say, or can use his talents to make studio material more interesting. It seems he’s more interested in the Knicks at this point.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Funny that I said I wanted to go 2. Because I really almost went 2. But I’ll stick with 2.5, because I ultimately didn’t care.

It was pretty incoherent, though, and I’m pretty sure most people feel the same way about it. Come back to us, Spike Lee.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Rewrite

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s a Hugh Grand rom com. This would have gotten a wide release a decade ago. Now, it only came out in the UK and is waiting to maybe get a VOD release here.”

“Damn. What happened to that genre?”

2.5 stars. Gotta VOD downgrade.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Complete rom com garbage. Yet I enjoyed it.”

“Hugh Grant is always likable when he’s in his element.”

“You can telegraph the movie from start to finish. Completely contrived all the way through. (ALL the way through.) But the rom com is so dead and buried it’s nice to see someone try.”

“I enjoyed this. Most people won’t, and that’s understandable. You’re grasping at straws if you think this is good, but if you really need a rom com, it’s exactly that.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I do enjoy a good bit of rom com garbage. Sue me.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

The Duff

What I said about it back in January:

“I heard mostly positive things. Not totally feeling it. But I won’t go too negative.”

“Gonna say 3 stars. This could go either way.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s way too over-the-top. I’ll start there. This reeks of first script.”

“It’s likable. I like that Mae Whitman got to star. She’s great. Overall, the cast is good, and it doesn’t get too outlandish.”

“Don’t look for anything particularly empowering or meaningful, but it’s a decent enough high school movie.”

“The problem with these is that everything always becomes heightened. More so than actual high school. The idea that people actively don’t acknowledge this girl’s existence isn’t realistic. Not that it needs to be realistic, but that takes things to this comic level that doesn’t help the movie. It’s fine though. It could have been worse.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

The first act is somewhat interesting, and the middle section is by the numbers, and the ending is totally contrived and undoes what the rest of the movie sets out to do. Also, like I said the first time — stop heightening reality for these movies. It does them a disservice. Look at this movie next to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. And that movie is also heightened.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Queen and Country

What I said about it back in January:

“John Boorman’s final movie. It’s a spiritual sequel to Hope and Glory, his best movie. It was about his experiences as a child growing up during World War II. It was great. He was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for it in 1987.”

“I’m excited based solely on that.”

“I’m saying 3.5 stars.”

“I should probably say 3, but I’m excited, and the ‘first’ movie was really great.”

What I actually thought about it:

“A sequel to Hope and Glory. I didn’t expect it to be as great as that movie is, but it’s worthwhile.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

That’s about it It’s worthwhile. But it’s nowhere near what that original was. But I like that Boorman got to go out on his own terms. Good for him. The man made Point Blank and Deliverance, but Hope and Glory is still my favorite of his.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

What I said about it back in January:

“I’m gonna give it the sequel drop. 2.5 stars. Maybe it gets to three. Didn’t look great.”

What I actually thought about it:

“The first one amused me. This one got by well enough. I laughed just enough and enjoyed myself just enough to give it 3.”

“It’s not a good movie by any stretch. It’s actually pretty offensive in a lot of ways. It represents the bad side of male comedy. But whatever. I got through it and didn’t hate it. So that’s fine. Easily forgotten, though.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I was sufficiently amused. I will likely never go back and watch this again. But for the once — fine.

* * * (3 stars)

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

McFarland, USA

What I said about it back in January:

“Kevin Costner is really going back to the sports movie well. You’d think he’d only bother when it was something truly worth it, given his track record in the genre. I guess he’s doing it by sport now. Wants to have a classic in every sport.”

“This one… doesn’t look like a good one. Track movie. Do not care.”

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Way better than I thought. Actually one of the more underrated movies of the year.”

“When Kevin Costner does a sports movie, he doesn’t fuck around.”

“It’s really watchable. You can actually enjoy this even if you don’t give a shit about track. It’s more about community and stuff. Has its fair share of cliches, but its quite enjoyable.”

“This surprised me.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This really surprised the shit out of me. I thought easy 2.5 stars, do not care, ignore it and move on. I was actively engaged in this movie and actually really enjoyed it. That said — contrived as hell and generic in the literal definition of the word. But I did enjoy this, and I really did not think that I would.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a full star.

The Hunting Ground

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I decided I was going to watch as many documentaries on the shortlist as I could in order to best guess the category.

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s not an easy watch, but this is one of those documentaries that is so important you have to recommend it. Because I know people who went through this kind of stuff.”

“It’s fucked up how colleges handle issues like sexual assault.”

“They better nominate this.’

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This is one of those big issues that no one seems to want to deal with (a la gun control, a la police brutality against minorities, a la gender equality in the workplace, etc). We need more

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Deli Man

What I said about it back in January:

What I actually thought about it:

Final Thoughts:

How close was I?: N/A

Focus

What I said about it back in January:

“I’m excited for this.”

“Don’t necessarily think it will be good, given Will Smith’s track record of ever-mediocre product over the years.”

3 stars. We’ll let this figure out what it’s going to be.”

“I want this to be good.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I was leery from the jump.”

“The writers and directors did Crazy, Stupid, Love, which I hated. (You can read my hatred here.) So I didn’t expect this to be particularly good.”

“This movie is pretty entertaining. At times. Other times, it’s generic as shit and completely predictable. Other times it’s downright awful and cliche.”

“The best sequence in the movie is the Super Bowl, where the bets keep increasing. The explanation afterwards is fucking ridiculous, but the moment from when it starts until she picks the number is terrific. The rest of the movie — did not care.”

“For that sequence, and Margot Robbie being terrific, 3 stars. I can’t, in good conscience, bump it up to 3.5. Cannot.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This is one of those movies where it pays to have an internal rubric of how to guess things. Will Smith, Margot Robbie, con artist movie. You think 3.5. But, the guys who wrote and directed a movie I hated and another that I enjoyed moderately. And it’s coming out in February. Immediately that’s red flags. Plus, Will Smith. A red flag that takes a second to realize it’s a red flag. You can’t go higher than 3 here. And I was right to not do so. This was exactly what I thought it would be. Some interesting con artist shit, get you through unscathed, but ultimately you know where it’s going and how it’s going to end. This met expectations all the way through. (Though that Super Bowl sequence was well done.)

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Lazarus Effect

What I said about it back in January:

“So, Flatliners, but as a shitty reverse thriller?”

“I mean, we’re not starting on a high plane, but it’s something.”

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Found footage. NOPE!”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I think the previous statement about covers it.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is March.

http://bplusmovieblog.com

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