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Monday, June 01, 2015

The Nicsperiment's 2015 Early Summer Movie Mini-Reviews

 photo Mad Max Fury Road First Big Chase Scene_zpsa9dzpcep.jpg
It's the summer! That means it's time for some two-sentence movie reviews, dawg! Do people still say "dawg?" Whatup, Catz? WORST INTRO EVER.

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem -- 5/10
It appeared at the camp in Grand Isle in the summer of 2008...or was it 2009...on the entertainment center shelf, a mysterious DVD with the initials "C hearts A," and it sat there for, until finally, I just couldn't take it anymore, and took it to my house. There, an illicit viewing, as I ate a mallard I killed last winter, and lo, the film was not a good one, a monster-mash directed by two of the foremost practical special effects artists of our time, shot completely in the dark so that none of their creations could be seen...and avast, a hidden BB, deep within the duck's flesh, at the vital moment, when finally, for a moment, the monsters became visible, chose its time to strike, my chewing, unguarded, my molar, chipped to oblivion, the tooth-breaking of destiny--also, post-Rescue Me Steven Pasquale deserves better than this..also, what the hell is the "Requiem" for?

American Sniper -- 8/10
I get that half the stuff in this movie was fabricated by Spielberg (the butcher, the Syrian sniper nemesis) before the project was passed on to Clint Eastwood, but this is still a moving portrayal of a soldier and veteran's life, regardless. Also, Bradley Cooper was great back in the day in Alias as Jennifer Garner's little buddy, but he so far eclipses that with this that I feel old, man.

Avengers: Age of Ultron -- 7/10
This movie had the misfortune of being viewed by me immediately after my first viewing of the immediate classic, Mad Max: Fury Road. As such, this is like pretty much all the Marvel movies, sans the excellent second Captain America film: a bunch of empty CGI spectacle against armies of CGI foes, a paint-by-numbers story, a general feeling of a heavy studio hand in all major creative decisions, and some delightful character banter to make the whole thing more bearable.

Birdman -- 7/10
Now I know why this movie won best picture over Boyhood: because above everything, Hollywood loves movies about itself. Michael Keaton's great, and the manic pace is admirable, but Boyhood is an incredibly deep film about the actual experience of being, and Birdman is a surrealistic fantasy about how wacky actor's lives and showbusiness are--if that's all you know, that's what you're going to vote for.

The Boxtrolls -- 8/10
I wish more movies--kid ones, adult ones (like movies for adults, not porn), whatever--had as much heart and creativity, as this one. Also, whoever got Steve Blum out of anime voice-dub purgatory deserves some kind of medal--Spike Spiegel should be in more movies!!!

Foxcatcher -- 8/10
Three great performances in the aid of one extremely uncomfortable, hard to watch film. Features an odd, stodgy cold that just never lets up.

Furious 7 -- 7/10
This is a nice send-off for the deceased Paul Walker, but unfortunately, franchise newcomer, director, James Wan, can't match the sublime action of past director Justin Lin's Fast Five, or the over-the-top insanity of Lin's Fast and Furious 6. Still, if I told you I didn't have fun watching this movie, or get emotional during its ending, I'd be lying to you--please Wan, though, cut the CGI and get back to Lin's practical-effects laden, real car smashing of the previous two films!

Mad Max: Fury Road -- 10/10
Years and years of complaining: will they ever make an artfully made, non-stop, largely CGI-free action movie, with no quick cuts, great acting, great story, great art design, great music, great, real physical stunts...such a movie's existence began to seem like a myth. Then, 70-year old George Miller took a break from making Happy Feet movies to finally deliver exactly what I wanted--everything listed above and more--finally, the perfect action film, and I can't stop listening to the soundtrack, either (seriously, has an action scene matched its score as well as the one below in the last 20 years?).

Pitch Perfect 2 -- 6/10
My wife-enforced viewing of the first film was a very pleasant surprise--a hilarious, irreverent film that had a heart, but didn't take itself too seriously. The second one made me chuckle a few times, but it feels more like a series of subplots, than a coherent, necessary film.

Still Alice -- 9/10
Again, was my wife's idea, but this is a great, horrifying, yet warm film, about a horrifying, cold illness. Julianne Moore and the filmmakers do such a good job of putting a human face on Alzheimer's Disease without once going for easy tears or paltry drama--it just feels real.

Whiplash --9/10
Blood, sweat, and blurry drumsticks, this movie has the audacity to feature two knockout performances in direct opposition to each other, Miles Teller as an aspiring drummer, and J.K. Simmons, as his abusive teacher, and not tell you how you're supposed to feel about everything at the end. The film might feature knockout editing set to its own jazzy beats, yet when the dust settles, the drummer's life may be ruined, his psyche may be damaged forever...but he is a better drummer: cinematic ambiguity like this is refreshing.

Nope...still can't see anything...
 photo Aliens Vs Predator Requiem Is Way Too Dark_zps7b49z5ia.png

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