Monday, June 17, 2013

Fun Size (2012)

IMDb plot summary: Wren's Halloween plans go awry when she's made to babysit her brother, who disappears into a sea of trick-or-treaters. With her best friend and two nerds at her side, she needs to find her brother before her mom finds out he's missing.
Directed by Josh Schwartz. Starring Victoria Justice, Jackson Nicoll, and Chelsea Handler.

(Mild spoiler ahead.)

For a movie about a girl and her brother, her brother is in it very little, which turns out to be great, because he is the least interesting part of the movie (especially when it turns out at the end that the one thing that made him interesting isn't even true). Get rid of the whole "my brother annoys me" plotline and you've got a pretty decent, if typical, teen story about not giving into the pull of popularity. It's hardly a good movie, but it does have a moment or two. I particularly like when the mom breaks down at the party - it has a very truthful ring to it. Totally acceptable for young teens, not worth watching for adults.

As a complete side note, I find it eye-rollingly ridiculous that the characters mock the name "Keevin" when other characters in this movie (including one who was doing the mocking) are named Wren, Roosevelt, and, uh, Fuzzy. 2.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1075 out of 1945, below Biloxi Blues and above The Toy That Saved Christmas.

March of the Penguins (2005)

IMDb plot summary: A look at the annual journey of Emperor penguins as they march -- single file -- to their traditional breeding ground.
Directed by Luc Jacquet. Starring Morgan Freeman.

I understand people really like penguins. I get that. But even with animals as cute as these, I can only watch them for about 10 minutes before I get bored and wish there were some people in this movie. It's well-made, I suppose, so I'll give it a couple stars for that, but I don't have a great grasp on what makes a well-made animal documentary different from a poorly-made one, as they all end up boring me. If you like penguins, you should definitely see it, but I was glad when it was over. 2 stars.

Flickchart: #1827 out of 1944, below Anne B. Real and above Hop. I feel bad rating it this low, but it really did nothing for me.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Struck by Lightning (2012)

IMDb plot summary: A young man recounts the way he blackmailed his fellow classmates into contributing to his literary magazine.
Directed by Brian Dannelly. Starring Chris Colfer, Rebel Wilson, and Allison Janney.

Chris Colfer is quite a talented young writer. While I don't think the ending of this movie quite works (it seems a little tacked on rather than thematically uniting the movie), he managed to avoid nearly all of the pitfalls he could have encountered during this film. It doesn't feel too cutesy or quirky, and it nicely blends serious issues with lightheartedness, all done without too much self-awareness or precociousness. Overall, it's well worth the watch, as Chris Colfer and Rebel Wilson's characters are delightful and easy to root for, and Colfer does an incredible job of playing a very likeable hero. I enjoyed this. It's not incredible, but I liked it. 3.5 stars.

Flickchart: #733 out of 1943, below The Devil's Backbone and above Hitchcock.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Lifeforce (1985)

IMDb plot summary: A race of space vampires arrive in London and infect the populace.
Directed by Tobe Hooper. Starring Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, and Frank Finlay.

All right. I have a fondness for cheesy sci-fi, but let me just come right out and say that THIS MOVIE IS RIDICULOUS. Heh. "Vampires in space" is a silly premise but one that could totally work if done right, and this movie just went crazy with it, with ridiculous plot device after ridiculous plot device, plenty of B-movie-level writing, and bizarre acting that kept making me giggle. I still kind of enjoyed it, but no way could I ever say that it was a good movie at all. Fun, but ludicrous, and it has enough moments that made me go, "Wait, what? Really?" that it gets bumped down just slightly from the 3 stars I was going to rate it. 2.5 stars.

Flickchart: #938 out of 1938, below Meet Joe Black and above Spy Game.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

She's the Man (2006)

IMDb plot summary: When her brother decides to ditch for a couple weeks in London, Viola heads over to his elite boarding school, disguises herself as him, and proceeds to fall for one of her soccer teammates. Little does she realize she's not the only one with romantic troubles, as she, as he, gets in the middle of a series of intermingled love affairs.
Directed by Andy Fickman. Starring Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, and Laura Ramsey.

This movie is loosely based on Twelfth Night, my favorite Shakespearean comedy. Though both stories have a pretty far-fetched premise, Twelfth Night is clever and entertaining throughout, while She's the Man is a series of dumb jokes, lame romantic gestures, and flat characters. It has nowhere near the charm or the wit of the original play, and, as always, Amanda Bynes comes very *close* to being funny, but keeps ruining it by overplaying it with an air of, "Yeah, I know this is funny stuff." Doesn't work for me at all, and I'll be happy when it disappears from my mind, forgotten, in a couple weeks. 1 star.

Flickchart: #1764 out of 1937, below Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and above Clash of the Titans (1981).

Friday, June 7, 2013

Warm Bodies (2013)

IMDb plot summary: After R (a highly unusual zombie) saves Julie from an attack, the two form a relationship that sets in motion a sequence of events that might transform the entire lifeless world.
Directed by Jonathan Levine. Starring Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Analeigh Tipton and Rob Corddry.

(Spoilers ahead, because the ending of this movie was ABSOLUTELY COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS.)


This has the potential to be SO GOOD. The first ten minutes were SO GOOD. Creative, funny, self-aware... looked like we were heading in an awesome direction.

And then began the spiral into stupid.

It started with zombies who had barely been able to manage the word "Hungry" at the beginning of the movie suddenly speaking in sentences. Caveman-esque sentences, sure, but sentences. For no reason. And then groups of zombies that believed in love. For no reason. And then dead hearts that started beating. FOR NO REASON. And then all the zombies are talking in full sentences and have memories. FOR NO REASON.

Oh, and the secret ingredient to their cure? Apparently it was... being accepted and appreciated by humans. Which is horrifically stupid on its own, but even more so because IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE IN THE PLOT. Nobody was accepted and loved at the beginning. They all just started being cured magically. No acceptable explanations. Nothing that makes sense. It's one of the most frustrating uses of the "Love cures everything!" trope in recent years.

Even that could be accepted if the movie had kept its snarky tone from the first half, but instead the narrator goes almost entirely silent and the movie plays it completely straight. It could have been *hilarious* if the movie parodied the ridiculousness of the trope. But, nope. It was like the first half was written by a smart, snarky adult and the second half was written by a 13-year-old girl who read too much Twilight.

The first 40 minutes of this movie were easily like 4 stars for me, but it went so far downhill so fast that it gets ONE STAR for being the MOST disappointing movie I have seen in a while. grumblegrumblegrumble

Flickchart: #1726 out of 1936, below Meet Me In St. Louis and above Jules et Jim.

The Good Doctor (2011)

IMDb plot summary: A young doctor goes to unconscionable extremes in order to remain in the service of a female patient with a kidney disorder.
Directed by Lance Daly. Starring Orlando Bloom, Riley Keough, Taraji P. Henson, and Rob Morrow.

OK. This could have been a really interesting movie, but it really missed the mark. The casting of Orlando Bloom didn't work at all. I was hoping he'd impress me with acting chops when given the opportunity, but... no. As with all his work, he's just very wooden. He doesn't convey any actual human emotion until a very strange scene near the end where suddenly he overacts like crazy.

The story's a good one, but it's frustratingly executed, because it shows us things entirely from this doctor's perspective but never bothers to actually give us a look inside his head. There's no one to sympathize with, no one to care about. I had great difficulty discerning the motive behind his actions, due to vague writing and Orlando Bloom's non-acting, so whenever he did something awful I found myself yelling at the screen, "WHAT? WHY?"

Given all that, it's just the nail in the coffin that the final 3 minutes or so are complete nonsense, and it ends at the least coherent spot possible. In the end, it's a sloppy and disappointing flick. 1.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1322 out of 1935, below Pulp Fiction and above The Fifth Element.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Fourth Kind (2009)

IMDb plot summary: A thriller involving an ongoing unsolved mystery in Alaska, where one town has seen an extraordinary number of unexplained disappearances during the past 40 years and there are accusations of a federal cover up.
Directed by Olatunde Osunsami. Starring Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas, and Will Patton.

(Some spoilers ahead.)

I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Not nearly as cheesy as I expected, though the middle got pretty hokey. The movie did some of the better "based on a true story" gimmicks I've seen, splicing reenactments with "actual footage" to make it look more believable as an actual story. It did a good job of setting up an atmosphere, and they made a very smart move to never actually show the aliens. Still a pretty straightforward "true story" horror flick, but they did what they wanted to do pretty well. 3 stars.

Flickchart: #909 out of 1934, below Ponyo and above Casino.

Monday, June 3, 2013

¡Three Amigos! (1986)

IMDb plot summary: Three unemployed actors accept an invitation to a Mexican village to replay their bandit fighter roles, unaware that it is the real thing.
Directed by John Landis. Starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short.

While I highly doubt I'll remember this movie a year from now, it was certainly fun viewing. Some great comedy actors during their best years, an entertainingly ridiculous plot, and enough laughs to make it worth the watch. I really have very little else to say about it - it's an unmemorable but fun enough little comedy. 3 stars.

Flickchart: #705 out of 1933, below Seeking a Friend For the End of the World and above Nanny McPhee.