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2016: The Year in Reviews (January)

End of the year, time to recap. Every January, I go over everything that’s schedule to come out, and a bunch more stuff that isn’t yet scheduled. Based on what I know at that time, I guess my eventual ratings for them.

So what ends up happening is, I watch everything over the course of the year, writing up reviews articles every four months, recapping and rating all the films I saw during that period. Then, in December, I post these articles, which contain both the initial guess and the actual rating, along with a final rating, which is based on how I feel about the film having had time to sit and digest it for a period of time.

I do it to see how accurately I can guess ratings for movies a year in advance, but really it serves as a way to give a complete picture of my feelings about each movie I see.

Today we’re recapping January:

Here’s how my ratings system 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. (2015 examples: Inside Out, Mad Max: Fury Road, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Steve Jobs.)

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars) — I loved the film, but not unconditionally. Four and a half stars means a likely top ten appearance, and for sure a top twenty spot. Rarely does a four and a half star film fall below top 15. (2015 examples: Anomalisa, Brooklyn, The Revenant, Sicario, Son of Saul.)

* * * * (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 great 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, especially after a year or two. (2015 examples: Beasts of No Nation, Bone Tomahawk, Crimson Peak, Dope, Grandma, The Walk.)

* * * 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 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 versatile ranking. Three and a half star films never make it above tier two (though not many will end up there), and most of them are tier three or four. (2015 examples: Cop Car, The Danish Girl, It Follows, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Mississippi Grind, Spy, Tangerine.)

* * * (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. (Though I still might hate it. That’s a completely different discussion.) 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. (2015 examples: 45 Years, By the Sea, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, San Andreas, Southpaw, Trainwreck.)

* * 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. 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. (2015 examples: The Age of Adaline, I Smile Back, Minions, Paper Towns, Pixels, While We’re Young.)

* * (2 stars) — Two starts means that I just did not like the film. For the most part it’s competently made (though not always), but it’s either part of a genre that I don’t like (horror movie, shitty thriller, Nicholas Sparks), I was utterly bored by it, or it’s one of those movies that really annoyed the shit out of me. Decent chance it could be Unforgivable. (2015 examples: The Boy Next Door, Fifty Shades of Grey, Hot Pursuit, Seventh Son, The Visit.)

* 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 films. 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. (2015 examples: Superfast, Vacation.)

* (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 sequel or being something that’s too easy to make Unforgivable (like a Friedberg and Seltzer movie. One we knew were gonna be a piece of shit going in). But in any case — they’re really awful movies that shouldn’t exist. (2015 examples: none.)

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. (2015 examples of 0 star films: none, thankfully.)

2015 + Unreleased Films

The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Oscar nominee.

What I thought about it:

“It’s enjoyable. 100-year-old guy (the only logic issue here is how well he moves for someone supposed to be that age) escapes from the old folks home and gets into some shit.”

“Nothing outstanding, but it is better than I thought it was gonna be.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, it’s fun. Not something I need to see again, but I enjoyed it.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Documentary.

What I thought about it:

“Fun documentary. Music is always a good thing for a documentary to be about, because it’s more likely to hold my interest.”

“Plus this is about a music store where all the employees did drugs and shit all night and talked music during the day. If there was a way to do that with movies, I’d be down for that.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Fun documentary. Music docs are usually a good bet with me.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Babysitting 2

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I’d have tracked it, but there was never a guarantee that I was gonna be able to see it with proper English subtitles.

What I thought about it:

“I loved the first movie, and this one does a nice job of continuing the adventures of the characters, repeating a lot of the same stuff that made the first movie great, while also not really doing anything that feels remotely exceptional.”

“It has moments that are really funny, but a lot of it feels like ‘story’ and not jokes.”

“They didn’t fully repeat the first experience, and tried to do something different that also told an actual story, and some of it works and some of it doesn’t, and it’s still amusing.”

“I also realize that no one in this country has even seen the first one, let alone this one, but trust me when I say the first one is great.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Loved the first one, really liked the second. You could do worse for a comedy franchise.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Bad Batch

What I said about it back in January:

“This is the follow up film by the director of A Girl Walked Home Alone at Night.”

“And it’s about cannibals.”

“Based on her previous film, and the fact that its about cannibals — 3.5 stars. I’m excited for this.”

What I thought about it:

“Saw this at an early screening and really enjoyed it.”

“Its a pretty simple movie, and it focuses you solely into a specific story with a lot of broader universe building around it in such a way that kept me very interested.”

“Definitely keep an eye out for this one when it comes out next year. You’ll think it looks weird, but there’s definitely a lot more that works here than doesn’t.”

* * * *  (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I definitely liked this. I saw it so early there’s not even a poster for it yet. But it’s good. I feel like for most it’ll be a 3-3.5 star movie that you’ll enjoy but not love. But who said that’s a bad thing?

* * * *  (4 stars)

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

Before I Wake

What I said about it back in January:

“Don’t think I’m gonna see this, but if I do, 2.5 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“The premise is good, and it’s made well enough, I just don’t care about these kinds of movies.”

“Such is the case with me and horror movies.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I just didn’t care. Usually I say that I just didn’t like it and not that it was a bad movie, but what does it say that, despite the bankruptcy, the movie’s been pushed at least twice since then?

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Brand New Testament

What I said about it back in January:

Really liked this quite a bit. Tried to see this last year but was unable to. I like that they took a really great premise and then ran with it. It’s completely bizarre but in the best way possible.

What I thought about it:

“Really liked this quite a bit. Tried to see this last year but was unable to. I like that they took a really great premise and then ran with it. It’s completely bizarre but in the best way possible.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s good. Weird, but good.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Bronx Bull

What I said about it back in January:

“This hasn’t come out for what, four years now? Five? I’ve been tracking this from the beginning. Still hasn’t come out, still no indication that it ever will.”

“After this year, I’m gonna give it a blanket 2.5 star rating and just see if it ever does get released. But for this year, we’ll keep an eye out for it.”

What I thought about it:

“I’m just happy it didn’t make me angry.”

“It’s actually almost watchable. I almost thought about making this 3 stars. I’m happy I didn’t hate this the way we all thought we would.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s not good, but I didn’t hate it. Which is the best you could ask for with something like this.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Connection

What I said about it back in January:

I mentioned it — mid-entry — while previewing another film.

3.5 stars on that. I’ll see that too. But I don’t want to go back and write up a full entry. The number is all that matters.”

What I thought about it:

“Solid procedural/crime thriller out of France.”

“It’s the French side of The French Connection, with the cops trying to take down all the people supplying heroin to the U.S. Good shit. Completely missed this last yer.”

 * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Real solid.

 * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Dad’s Army

What I said about it back in January:

3 stars. I’d be shocked if this was anything but.”

What I thought about it:

“It’s amusing.”

“I think what sustains it is actually the throwback schtick-y, slapstick kind of humor. It makes it feel more timeless, which helps, since the story is predictable all the way through.”

“I was sufficiently amused by this.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Amusing enough to get you through. No need to ever see this again though.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Embrace of the Serpent

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Oscar nominee.

What I thought about it:

“It was cool. Black and white, surreal as shit. It was enjoyable. Like a South American Aguirre. Very arty.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Liked it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Family for Rent

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing.

What I thought about it:

“Enjoyable French movie. Premise is interesting. Doesn’t amount to a whole lot, but I was amused enough.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s fun enough.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

From Nowhere

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing.

What I thought about it:

“It was very well put together. I’m not even sure if this has a release date yet, but it’s a very solid indie film that’s worth seeing whenever they do put it out.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I liked it. Nice little indie.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Hitchcock/Truffaut

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Tried to see last year and it was impossible to find.

What I thought about it:

“I wish it were more.”

“I wanted more discussions, more films. Shit, give me the full 7-hour doc treatment with them talking about everything. That’s what I want.”

“Otherwise was solid. Mostly felt like a good primer for the book. And if it gets people to read the book, that’s okay.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This was awesome. Of course it was gonna be awesome. Look what it’s about.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

James White

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Tried to see before end of last year, never got the chance.

What I thought about it:

“Solid film. Really well made, and you can see the director having a story to tell and the energy to tell it well.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Liked it. Indie movie with good performances that deserves an audience.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Janis: Little Girl Blue

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. This was out last year yet somehow I totally missed it.

What I thought about it:

“Can’t believe I missed this last year. Had to remedy that. It was good. I enjoyed it. Didn’t love it, but definitely a well-made film. Also always a treat to hear Janis sing.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Didn’t love it the way I love a lot of music documentaries, but I did like it. And Janis. Janis is great.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Krampus

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. 2015 film. Did guess 2.5 stars, though, last year. So well count that.

What I thought about it:

“Meh. Did not care. Not surprising.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah this wasn’t for me.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Long Way North

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. We got it as a screener.

What I actually thought about it:

“Looked nice. Well animated. Didn’t love it, but solid.”

“The hand drawn aspect is enough to keep me invested in your movie.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Solid animation, decent enough movie.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Look Who’s Back

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I’ve been hoping this would eventually make its way over here, and then it was on Netflix out of nowhere.

What I thought about it:

“Spoiler alert: it’s Hitler.”

“Here’s the premise: Hitler wakes up in a vacant lot in Germany today. He has no memory of the past 70 years. Society is what it is today, and he’s still Hitler. So he’s going around (and they shoot it Ali G style, which works with the narrative), interacting with real people, who all thing he’s some sort of comedian or method actor. So he’s going off on these Hitler rants, and they’re thinking he’s hilarious.”

“The movie is also really funny. It’s not really edited to evoke a full story, but it’s still hilarious the kind of shit he says to people. Highly recommend this one.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Really liked this. If this premise isn’t enough to make you want to see it, I don’t know what will.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Lure

What I said about it back in January:

“All I heard was that it’s a foreign musical about mermaids who start a band.”

“Not even gonna overthink it — I’m in.”

“Don’t need anything else, just let’s see what this is.”

3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

This was fucking insane. Vampire mermaid musical. Absolutely fascinating shit.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Enjoyable

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Mr. Pig

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s about a guy who goes on a road trip with a pig. Starring Danny Glover.”

“It’s Danny Glover and a pig. (Or as women call it — Lethal Weapon. Zing!)”

“I’ll see this.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s a movie about Danny Glover and a pig. Are you not mildly interested?”

“It’s basically an indie, but it is engaging. It’ll keep your attention, even if it doesn’t amount to a whole lot.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I liked it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Odyssey

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing.

What I actually thought about it:

“Jacques Cousteau biopic.”

“It’s decent, but feels more like a broad biopic that checks off moments rather than get deep into characters in any meaningful way.”

“I wish they’d gone a little deeper, but as it is, it’s watchable.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s fine. Could have been better, but it’s okay as it is.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Search

What I said about it back in January:

“Michel Hazanvicius’s follow up to The Artist. A remake of the Fred Zinnemann movie from 1948 with Montgomery Clift. Though it’s set in Chechnya.”

“I heard it was overlong, too melodramatic, and the war scenes didn’t gel with the other stuff.”

“But I like Hazanavicius, I like the original film, and I heard he cut it down. So I’ll continue with 3.5 stars, even though I’m sure it’ll let me down.”

What I thought about it:

“I was so excited when they announced this. And then it didn’t come out, and that worried me a bit, because reviews were decidedly mixed. And then it didn’t come out again the following year. Which really concerned me.”

“This still hasn’t come out. And I see why. It’s overdone. Too serious, and just doesn’t translate as well as the original did in 1948.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Definitely a disappointment, coming off The Artist and making a remake that actually makes sense. It just doesn’t work. It’s overdone and almost feels like it’s going for awards and not trying to make the movie on its own terms.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Queen of the Desert

What I said about it back in January:

“They held it for a full year, are releasing it in the next month or two, and I heard middling things about it.”

“Still, 3.5 stars. Gotta trust Werner. I’m sure it’ll be 3 and I’ll be wrong, but if you can’t trust a director with a track record, who can you trust?”

What I thought about it:

Werner Herzog making an Out of Africa type period piece. Weird choice. Not a particularly great movie. I think because I don’t like the cast that much. But it’s fine. Nothing great. Most people will find it boring, and even worse, the Herzog fans are gonna what the fuck he’s doing. This doesn’t seem to be a film for anyone.

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This was boring as shit. A disappointment coming from Herzog. There’s not a whole lot for me to like here at all.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Secret in Their Eyes

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. 2015 film. Did guess 3.5 stars, though.

What I thought about it:

Couldn’t get to this last year because it completely disappeared. Decent film, not great. Kind of overdone. Micast, I feel. Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman — maybe not the best choices. But what do I know? Ejiofor is good, and otherwise they got enough out of it for me to like it, but not really something I’ll want to go back and see. I imagine the original is much better.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Trespass Against Us

What I said about it back in January:

“In.”

3.5 stars.”

“Fassbender has shown impeccable taste. No reason to think otherwise.”

What I thought about it:

This was kind of like watching Snatch purely from the perspective of Brad Pitt and the gypsies. Fascinating movie.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Good stuff.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact

A War

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Oscar nominee.

What I thought about it:

“Foreign Language nominee. It was solid. Not much more to say.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yup. That’s about it. I liked it, I pretty much forgot it within a few weeks of seeing it, and here we are.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

January

The Forest

What I said about it back in January:

“So this is a horror version of the Gus Van Sant movie? (The critics at Cannes would argue that already exists.)”

“I’d like to skip this. But in case I don’t, since it is January and these movies end up getting watched because nothing else is going on — 2.5 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“I almost skipped this. Thought it was gonna be complete horror bullshit. But actually it’s a psychological thriller, and I liked how it didn’t go overboard on the jump scares and the usual horror bullshit.”

“For that, I was very okay with this movie, and 2.5 stars is definitely better than I was expecting to get out of this.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Wasn’t great, but it definitely did way more than I was expecting. So that’s a plus.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Anesthesia

What I said about it back in January:

“This is the third year I’ve been tracking this. They’re finally dumping this on VOD. After all this time, I have to go 2.5 stars and let this win me over.”

What I thought about it:

“I had some worries about this, because it wasn’t released for two full years. But it managed to be okay”.

“I got enough out of it to give it 3, but it’s not something I’d strongly put a stamp of ‘I liked this’ on.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Flat 3. Wasn’t great, but did enough to keep me sufficiently amused. Also pretty sure no one else saw this.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Diablo

What I said about it back in January:

“WESTERN.”

“It’s VOD, but it’s a western, so I’ll see it, and I’ll be fine with it.”

3 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“Surrealist western. Reminiscent of High Plains Drifter and the sort.”

“Not great. Most people will hate this. It had its moments. And it’s a western, so I’m fine with it. Otherwise, nothing particularly groundbreaking here.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I remember the 3 stars being generous, but it is a western, and I am predisposed to being more okay with the genre than others. So I’ll stick with the 3.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Lamb

What I said about it back in January:

“It sounds weird, but it’s been getting good reviews.”

“I have no idea what this is gonna be, but I’ll trust the positive reviews.”

3 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“Really solid film that could have turned real creepy real fast.”

“Still kinda creepy.”

“I don’t know why I enjoyed it, but I did.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

The material is unsettling, but the film is oddly watchable. Might not have gotten such a strong review if it weren’t so early in the year, but I rate them as I see them, and this was a solid 3.5 star movie.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

What I said about it back in January:

“Michael Bay made a Benghazi movie.”

“Crazy how they have no faith in this, even after all he did for that studio. At least give him the decency of putting this out in February or March or April and not January.”

“I mean sure, we’re all expecting this to be closer to Blackhat than Zero Dark Thirty, but still… Bay knows how to direct a movie. How can you not assume 3 stars here?”

“Maybe 2.5 and it’s not good, but it’s either 2.5 or 3. Bay has earned at least that much, even if he’s being dumped in January.”

What I thought about it:

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I liked this. I watched it on an airplane, which might account for the extra half a star. But I liked it. The action was really well put together, and the plot wasn’t as badly written as his other movies have been. I generally like his stuff, and I’ll take generic set up over bad set up. And the action really did hold my interest. I’m not gonna think too much into it, because it is, in a way, glorifying military contractors, but in terms of pure entertainment value, sure. Much better than what January usually has to offer.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

Ride Along 2

What I said about it back in January:

“The first movie was marginally entertaining. This is going to likely be more of the same.”

“I have the option of going 2.5 stars and assume the sequel decline or go 3. This is where I was with Hot Tub Time Machine 2.”

“I feel like the second I go 2.5 stars, it’ll be 3. So I’ll just say 3 stars and let this be worse.”

What I thought about it:

“Nope. First one was barely okay. This one — did not care, please stop making them now. That’s all.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Please stop making them now. You made your money, you got paid on a sequel. Move along.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Norm of the North

What I said about it back in January:

“Yeah…. animated movies in January… these don’t go well.”

“2.5 stars. It could even drop to 2. Remember The Nut Job?”

“Oh, and Rob Schneider is voicing Norm. It can be 2.”

“Actually, let’s make it 2 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“I mean… clearly.”

“A talking Polar Bear comes to New York, voiced by Rob Schneider. You know you’re not getting anything good here.”

“And it’s not that unholy a piece of shit to waste time on. It’s bad, we know it, we’ll move on.”

* * (2 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This is one of the worst movies of the year. But it won’t be Unforgivable because it doesn’t deserve my time.

I mean, Rob Schneider voices a talking polar bear. Was there any sort of positive expectation in this?

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Band of Robbers

What I said about it back in January:

“I wasn’t interested the first time I heard about it, but now I think it could be okay.”

3 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn reimagined as modern day ne’er do wells trying to pull off a low level heist.”

“Not for me at all. Barely held my interest.”

“Maybe worked as an intellectual exercise for a class or something, but as a movie, not particularly interesting. Oh well.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, did not care about this at all. Moderately intriguing premise, but otherwise generic execution.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Moonwalkers

What I said about it back in January:

“Seems fun, but not great overall.”

3 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“Moderately entertaining. The idea is pretty good, the execution is weird and not optimal. ”

“I got enough out of it for January.”

“I’d rather watch the actual Stanley Kubrick version of the moon landing conspiracy than this.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

That about covers it. Only in January could you watch this. Otherwise, just watch the actual moon landing. You’ll get more out of it.

How many times are you gonna get that review for something? “Just watch the actual moon landing.”

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Benefactor

What I said about it back in January:

“Could be 3, but after all this time of it not coming out, I’m going with 2.5 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“Weird, unbalanced movie that doesn’t really have much to say.”

“Gere gives another solid, underrated performance, but the film around him doesn’t go much of anywhere for it to matter.”

“Mostly it’s worth watching if you ever decide to go back and appreciate Richard Gere, because the past decade has been him giving terrific performances in small, underseen movies.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Movie’s not good, and because they quietly dumped it, most people don’t even know this exists. Only worth it for Richard Gere and nothing else. Whenever we decide to appreciate how good he is as an actor and how we’ve taken him for granted for so many years, people will go back and say, “You know, he was actually good in this one too.” Or maybe just say, “Oh, he made this movie and it exists.” Which I guess is better than nothing.

* * * (3 stars)

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

The 5th Wave

What I said about it back in January:

“It looks like alien invasion YA bullshit.”

2.5 stars. Looks like generic YA shit.”

What I thought about it:

“It’s generic YA bullshit. You know my deal with these.”

“The one thing I took from this — they fucking murder some people. Chloe Moretz actually murders people. Which is different.”

“Otherwise — there’s an apocalypse, and then aliens take over the bodies of people or something… I don’t know, it’s stupid.”

“Capably made, but not interesting or unique in any way. So basically, standard YA bullshit.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I think that about sums it up. Capable, but not unique in any way, and pretty much just stupid YA bullshit.

I like that she murders people though. More cold blooded murder in YA movies.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Boy

What I said about it back in January:

“This is by the director of The Devil Inside, a movie I skipped. And this will likely be the same.”

“But just in case… 2.5 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“Did not care.”

“I watched it purely because it was January and because I had so little else to watch it was easy. Otherwise, had this come out in June or something, I’d have skipped it entirely. Because I knew.”

“I basically ended up bored throughout and didn’t care about any of it, which is to be expected with a film like this.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

The problem with me watching movies like this is that I go in saying, “Either the outcome is A, and it’s generic, or it’s B, and I hate it and want no part of it.” Either way, I’m not gonna like it. The best thing usually is for me to skip these kinds of movies. But I never learn, do I?

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Dirty Grandpa

What I said about it back in January:

3 stars. These usually go by easily. Not expecting anything good, but I assume it’ll be passable enough.”

What I thought about it:

“This annoyed this shit out of me.”

“Zach Efron doing the same thing he does in practically every movie. Either he’s the straight man or the douchebag. So it’s like a half a facial expression worth a change but otherwise the same performance”.

“There’s nothing likable about this. It’s offensive, sexist, not particularly funny.”

“It’s the kind of movie that treats and old man (or anyone) calling people gay as funny. There’s a scene where they try to get humor out of mistaken child abuse.”

“Everything about this movie is wrong, and I want to forget this even exists as soon as possible.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

There’s a chance what you’re about to read might not be my final thoughts. But in case they are, fuck this movie. It was terrible and I’m ashamed at everyone involved for thinking this would be funny.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Exposed

What I said about it back in January:

“Dumping on VOD, so I have to assume drop. 2.5 stars. Maybe it can hit 3. The trailer doesn’t look particularly promising.”

What I thought about it:

“Boring movie.”

“All revolving around a supposed ‘miracle’. So it has religious overtones. Nope. Do not care.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I forgot about this movie ten minutes after I finished it. I’m also pretty sure I’m one of like, fifty people who ever saw this. Don’t worry, you’re not missing anything.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Fifty Shades of Black

What I said about it back in January:

“Marlon Wayans made another parody.”

“A Haunted House was shit. Most of his parody movies are shit.”

“The original was shit. How could this be any better?”

“I’m wanna say 2.5 stars, because I think it would be funny if this movie were better than the original. Let’s be honest, though — this will be bad.”

What I thought about it:

“I got about two minute into this before I said, ‘Nope!’ It didn’t pick up from there.”

“This had about as much appeal to me as A Haunted House. 2. With about the same quality of subject matter it’s ‘parodying.'”

“If I could sum up this review, and my thoughts about the film in two words, I guess those two words would be STOP IT.”

* * (2 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Seriously. STOP IT.

* * (2 stars)

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

The Finest Hours

What I said about it back in January:

“It looks like a completely fine movie. Had this come out in June, I might have ventured to go 3.5 stars. But this being set for end of January, I can’t have any faith in this to be anything other than a perfectly watchable, yet cliche as shit, by the numbers rescue/disaster movie.”

3 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“I like that it was a period piece. And that it didn’t go overboard on the sentimentality. Otherwise there’s not a whole lot here.”

“It’s Disney doing a disaster movie. So the edges are softened, the risks are minimal, the formula is ever-present, it’s designed to be watched on Starz two years after it comes out and for people to enjoy it in an easy way.”

“It succeeds, even though it’s not particularly great.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s good enough to watch the once. I liked it enough. The fact that it was set in the 50s counted for a lot. It’s generic in almost every way, but generic does tend to mean perfectly watchable in a lot of cases.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Jane Got a Gun

What I said about it back in January:

“Do we believe this is actually going to come out?”

“It’s a western. I feel bad dropping this to 2.5 stars, so I’m gonna stick with 3 stars and wait to see if this is as bad as the chaos surrounding its production and release makes it out to be.”

“Let’s not unfairly shit on something before it gets its day in court.”

What I thought about it:

“The amount of problems this film had, it’s almost a miracle it turned out as watchable as it is.”

“It’s clear the film is compromised. So much of it reeks of them not having the money to do much else.”

“Not great. Mostly forgettable, but it got the western bump from me. Mostly it’s just unfortunate it turned out this way.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s not great, and it only made 3 because I like westerns. But this was one of those movies that was never gonna turn out great, given the production troubles. There were clear budget limitations with this, and the fact that that made it almost halfway decent is a miracle in itself. All things considered, this should have been worse than it was.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Kung Fu Panda 3

What I said about it back in January:

“Yeah… the first one was cute. Did not give a fuck about the second one. So let’s not mince words: 2.5 stars. I won’t care about this one bit.”

What I thought about it:

“Was done with this franchise after the first one.”

“It’s DreamWorks, which means they milk these things dry, and even if they hit with a really good first movie, the successive sequels and TV shows and straight to DVD movies kill it violently and bury it in the backyard, and continue beating it just to make sure every last cent is squeezed out. And I’m not a fan of that.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’ve stopped caring about this franchise. The first one was amusing, I don’t even remember the second one, and this one was just something I watched because it was January and there was nothing else going on. I’m completely indifferent to this franchise at this point.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Grease Live

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. TV special that I found out about the day it aired.

What I thought about it:

“I watch all of these live musicals because even if the show is a disaster, there’s still the fact that people put in work to execute this in one take, flubs and all.”

“Within the first five minutes, my jaw dropped at how well this was done.”

“The rest of the show was absolutely wonderfully staged and choreographed and executed.”

“I was giddy by the hour mark because of how incredibly put-together this show was.”

“I can’t quite count this as a film for my year-end list, but this was one of the most impressive and entertaining things I saw all year, and wish all live musicals were done like this from now on.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This was really incredible. I have such a deep respect for everyone whose idea this was, who planned and executed this. This was the best live TV stage musical I’ve ever seen. Granted, I don’t have that big a history of them, but still, this was really, really great.

How close was I?: N/A

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is February.

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