I’ve seen quite a few movies over the last couple of months, but haven’t felt compelled to review any of them in full. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t react terribly strongly to any of them, with the exception of Biutiful, which I detested. So, instead of writing mediocre reviews of movies I don’t feel all that emotionally invested in, here are snort snippets containing my concise opinions of each film.
Guardians of the Galaxy
I found this movie really disappointing, mostly because I read nothing but favorable reviews of it. In contrast to the effusive praise it’s received, I found it to be utterly average. Then again, I’m don’t think I’m in the target demographic anymore. I feel like a sizable chunk of the new Marvel flicks are aimed toward a younger crowd (I certainly felt that way while watching Avengers) and Guardians of the Galaxy is continuing that trend. I adore Chris Pratt; he is hilarious and endearingly stupid on Parks and Recreation. However, as often happens when talented comedians are stuck in film projects and given boring scripts to work with, Chris Pratt is unforgivably underutilized in this movie. Stick in some totally random sidekicks, elaborate costumes and backgrounds, and the type of lackluster, hole-riddled plot that is so typical of superhero films, and you’ve made something that appeals to a lot of people for no good reason.
Overall rating: C
Under the Skin
Of the two strange movies that Scarlett Johanssohn starred in this past year, it seemed like Under the Skin was generally considered the better of the two. As such, since I had a lukewarm reaction to Under the Skin, I’m going to skip watching Lucy. Although Under the Skin is visually stunning– how could it not be, set as it is in melancholy Scotland? — it also makes very little sense. Not that that’s necessarily a negative thing; but in this case, it is. It doesn’t help that the gorgeous shots of the frosty Scottish hills are paired with some downright awful CGI sequences, nor it is a good sign when the only moment in which the film has much of an emotional impact is when a disfigured man finds himself one of Scarlett’s unfortunate victims. Points for creativity, but much was lost in the execution.
Overall rating: B
A Most Wanted Man
Oh my goodness, I almost left the theater halfway through this one. Its greatest weakness was being unforgivably, tremendously boring. Honestly, at this point the “terrorist narrative” has been so overdone that if you are determined to make a movie about it, it needs to be a damn good one. Unfortunately, this movie is not damn good. It’s just damn boring.
Overall rating: C-
I’ll put my most hated film in the middle so that by the time you’ve read the next two positive reviews, you’ll hopefully have forgiven me for my vitriol. I don’t understand how someone who directed Babel could make a film that I would hate with the very core of my being. I am fine with depressing films (come on, There Will Be Blood is one of my all-time favorites!), but I am not ok with pointlessly depressing films. This entire movie is basically Javier Bardem being miserable. He has two kids with his mentally unstable, estranged ex-wife and panics when he is informed that he has prostate cancer. He’s dirt poor, of course, so he can’t afford treatment. He’s involved in illegal immigration and labor, and manages to kill 20 of his workers by buying faulty gas heaters. Butterflies show up. He can converse with dead people. There is a kindhearted Senegalese woman who is his only hope. He dies. The end. AAAAAAAAGH. Please, please don’t watch this awful movie. I feel like it was nothing more than an Oscar-bait role for Bardem.
Overall rating: D+
Robot & Frank
I recently read an article about why robotic caregiving is unethical, so I was quite surprised when I ended up liking this movie. Bottom line, it’s too sweet not to like. An elderly man with Alzheimer’s (Frank) has become a burden to his family and a danger to himself, so his son buys him a robot programmed to aid older citizens. Frank and the robot end up bonding to a surprising degree, and there are many instances in which the viewer is prompted to reflect on the nature of robotic interactions — will there there a point in which robots are so sophisticated, and in possession of sufficient emotional intelligence, to rival human companionship? Robot & Frank provides fodder for these thoughts, but is refreshingly ambiguous in its refusal to offer a solid answer.
Overall rating: B+
I’m still not sure why I like this movie so much. It does star Jeff Bridges, so that’s one huge reason. I think it just boils down to the fact that it feels genuine. Country musician Bad Blake’s mixed history of financial success, emotional drama, and substance abuse seems contextually realistic considering how high-stakes the country music industry is in the United States. Maggie Gyllenhall is wonderful as always in her portrayal of a slightly cynical journalist with a deep appreciation for old-fashioned country music, who somewhat reluctantly starts a relationship with a damaged man several decades her elder. The stereotypical Hollywood ending isn’t there, and who knew that Colin Farrell could make such a convincing country singer? It’s heartfelt, well-acted, and a pleasure to both watch and listen to. So, in my book, it gets a rare…
Overall rating: A-
Have you seen any of these films? How did you feel about them? Do you disagree with me vehemently? I’m curious to hear your reactions, good or bad!