Rio 2 is set a few years after the first Rio and continues the story of Blue (Jesse Eisenberg) whom has now has three children with his partner, Jewel (Anne Hathaway). Blue and his family hear news that they may not in fact be the last of their species and so Jewel, who's almost too eager at times, drags the reluctant Blue in search of these rumoured birds. Upon arriving in the Amazon it doesn't take long for them to find a few more birds than they thought they were after.
Rio 2 tries hard not to rehash the first film, but in doing so results in a terrible, shoehorned sequel. The film tries its hardest to not be like the original, pull a Toy Story 2 and do something completely new and inventive. At the same time it attempts to chuck in essentially every character from the first film when none of them have any real impact on the film or are necessary in any way. They feel as if they're just in the film to be in the film. The character of Nigel is both the greatest and most entertaining aspect of the film, but he's also the most unnecessary and forced aspect of the whole movie.
The film is both overly predictable and clichéd. Aside from one situation to do with a battle between the red birds and the blue birds, there wasn't a single moment in this film that I couldn't foresee. The film follows the same, overused structure that we've seen three dozen times over. The entire plot is so cliché ridden that the film comes off as reused, predictable garbage that'll be tossed away and forgotten in a few weeks time, which I'm hoping to do.
The film, although appearing friendly on the outside, is surprisingly dark. I am probably over-analysing the film, but I found it to be overall quite grim. The fact that children's entertainment has fallen to a level that is this dark is very unsettling. The film not only revolves around the idea that "a happy wife equals a happy wife", which is sexist in its own right, but it also features several instances of vicious murders (there's actually a scene in which many animals are slaughtered, but it's looked upon in a comedic way) unnecessary kidnappings, sexual abuse (in my eyes, a forced/unwilling marriage is sexual abuse) and a sequence in which one character is tied up and tortured for no reason. It gets to the point where I was staring at the cinema screen in sheer terror.
To sum up, Rio 2 is another animated sequel to fall flat. The film is predictable, clichéd, recycled garbage that's both dull and forced. As well as that, the film also comes across as part sexist and part torture porn.
1 1/2 Stars
The Monuments Men is set in World War II and follows the true story of Frank Stokes (George Clooney) who is assigned, along with James Rorimer (Matt Damon) and five other unlikely heroes, to fly into Germany and steal back the thousands of priceless pieces of art that have been stolen by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. This film was originally slated for a 2013 release date, right when the Academy would be looking for Oscar-worthy films, but was hesitantly delayed until 2014, kicking it out of the 2013 Awards Season.
I was very much looking forward to this film, until the reviews came out. The trailers for the film, along with the true story it's based upon, made the film look promising. The incredible cast and crew, Clooney set to star and direct, only gave me more hope. When the film was delayed, practically everyone's hopes were diminished, but I tried to stay positive. Then when the reviews came in, the film is currently sitting on a rotten 32% on Rotten Tomatoes, I felt as if all hopes for this movie were practically gone. Nevertheless I ensured that once the film was available to me, and thanks to an Ultraviolet code trade it now is, I would still see it. Was it as great as I was first hoping it to be? Far from it, but it wasn't bad either.
The film's intentions are far greater than the execution. The film, along with the fantastic trailers, thinks that it's better than it actually is. It tries very hard to go down as a noble and courageous war film, but ends up being bland and generic. One of the reasons, for me at least, that makes this film watchable is the fact that it's a true story. Despite the film not being noble and courageous, the men who had to do this were. Their story needed to be told and for that, I respect this film more than I probably should.
The performances in the film are all incredible. The cast of this film is incredible so there was never a doubt in my mind that they would make this film, at least, watchable. They did far greater than that. The cast, while most not giving their greatest performances, were in fact, incredible. Like I said, I never doubted it. I am unsure of how true their characters are to the real people, but I can say this: they perfected the characters that we do see.
The humour fails to fit in. The film attempts to throw a reasonable amount of humour into the mix so that the film can be just a little more enjoyable than if it were a dark, serious and mature war film. The conclusion to this being a film that would work much better as a fully-fledged drama instead of a mostly dramatic war film featuring Bill Murray's failed attempt at jokes, which it is.
Many aspects of the film drag on for a few minutes too many. I didn't feel as though the overall runtime was a negative point about the film, but instead I felt as though some scenes have no reason to exist or drag on for as long as they drag on. There's a scene that's shown in the trailer when Matt Damon's character, James Rorimer, steps on an unexploded mine. This is one of the half dozen scenes in the film that deviates into the flow of the story and just doesn't belong.
To sum up, The Monuments Men contains several notable flaws, including unneeded scenes, a failed attempt at comedy and intentions far greater than the execution allows, but with these aside, the film can be a hell of a war movie.
Are We Officially Dating, or That Awkward Moment as it's titled in practically every other county, follows the story of Jason (Zac Efron) a young man who's just been dumped by a girl he didn't even realise he was going out with. His two best friends, Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mickey (Michael B. Jordan) are also recently single. The three make a pact to all remain single, but when Jason meets a young woman, Ellie (Imogen Poots), things don't go to plan.
The film tries to be your not-so-typical-rom-com, but ends up being your typical rom-com. Are We Officially Dating sets itself up to be, and for the entirety of the film thinks it is, something more than just a clichéd, unoriginal and predictable rom-com that girls can take their dates to for Valentines Day, but the final version of the film becomes just that. I give it credit for trying, but it doesn't quite try hard enough. The fact that it came out the day before Valentine's Day also didn't give it much hope to be anything more than recycled junk we've already seen.
There's only a few laughs to be found amongst all the so-called "serious moments". The trailer, oddly enough, got me laughing, but unfortunately they were nearly all the jokes in the film. The film begun with a strong first act. It was fairly funny and features a hilarious, but again recycled, situation where one character is mistaken for a prostitute. Done before? Yes. Still funny? Yeah, it's reasonably funny. As the film transpires down into its second and the third acts, the comedy seems to disappear and the film turns itself from a reasonably funny comedy to a boring romance.
The film is a major step back for Michael B. Jordan. Both him and Miles Teller starred in two of my favourite films of 2013, Fruitvale Station (Jordan) and The Spectacular Now (Teller). Michael B. Jordan begun his career by proving he's a fantastic actor and so when I saw that he was to be in this movie I was at least hoping it would be half decent. Unfortunately it seems like this is his first dodgy movie, and undoubtably not his final. Miles Teller's films on the other hand, can go either way. His filmography is all over the place, he's done some amazing films and he's also done some not so amazing films such as this.
To sum up, Are We Officially Dating tries very hard to be more than how it turns out, but after a reasonably funny first act the film spirals down into average acting, a dull story and overused romance clichés.
2 1/2 Stars
Transformers: Age of Extinction follows the story of Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), a broke inventor in desperate need of money. When collecting scrap metal, Cade comes across an old, broken down truck which he intends on stripping for parts. What he soon discovers is that this truck isn't just as truck, but is instead Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). This leads Cade into a series of situations that will put not just his life at stake, but the life of humanity at stake.
Transformers: Age of Extinction is the best Transformers movie we've had yet! If you read any of my reviews for the Transformers trilogy over the past couple of days then you will be fully aware that I am far from a fan of this series. So when I say that this is the best of the series, I don't mean that it's a good movie either. It just kind of exists. Between the countless flaws that this film has, there's actually a fun movie to be found. It's really unfortunate that this 'fun' aspect appears on just the rare occasion.
The action is exhilarating, but it doesn't make up for the remainder of the film. The film can be enjoyed if you go into it knowing full well that to enjoy this movie it is a necessity to switch of your brain. The film's surprisingly great when doing this, it's only when you think about it does it get bad, and unfortunately I thought about it.
The new characters are refreshing, but the performances aren't. What Transformers 4 tries to do is start all over again. New characters, new storyline and even a new logo. Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci are fantastic with the dull material they're given, but the supporting cast aren't at their level. Nicola Peltz, who is not too bad in the TV Show 'Bates Motel', can't act. She is, however, at least ten times better than Jack Reynor who's acting is so bad that even his accent decided to leave the movie on several occasions.
The dinobots aren't really worth the two and a half hour wait. One of the most heavily advertised aspect of this film is that the dinobots are going to play a role in the film. This is teased at many times throughout the first two and a half acts, but it's not until the final minutes of the final battle do we get to see them in action. Is it worth the wait? Sort of. As incredible as it is to see Optimus Prime riding on the back of a robotic dinosaur whilst slaying decepticons, it's all in the trails. The runtime, of course, is a major problem with the film. There's plenty of scenes that could have been shortened down or even cut altogether, but Michael Bay insists on making his films as stretched as they can.
To sum up, Transformers: Age of Extinction is by far the best film in the series with plenty of enjoyable action and freaking dinobots, but unfortunately the runtime is stretched, most of the performances are disgraceful and the film is just dull.
2 1/2 Stars
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the third outing in the Transformers series, and supposedly the final one (that didn't last long). The film concludes the story of Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) as he is living in Chicago with his new girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Hunting-Whiteley). Soon the decepticons bring on a new force which will allow them to transform Earth into their dying planet, Cybertron. Once again Sam must leave behind everything so he can help stop these unstoppable forces.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon tries to make up for the second installment, but ultimately fails. Most people will agree that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was atrocious, or die hard fans of the first may agree that it was a let down. Transformers: Dark of the Moon makes an attempt at putting this long dead franchise back on its feet, they try to do this again with the fourth installment, but they can just never do it right. Michael Bay needs to give up on this franchise already and start moving on to making other projects. Although I wasn't a fan of Pain & Gain, a lot of people were. I never thought I'd say this, but he needs to make more movies that are along the lines of Pain & Gain, just not Pain & Gain.
The humour is less offensive, but is unfortunately still present. Comedy is never the strongest aspect of the Transformers movies and for the most part it comes across as very racist and homophobic. This time around they try their hardest to make the film more drama oriented, but they just can't help themselves from throwing in unnecessary humour. This humour still isn't funny, but I'm more than thankful that they've dimmed down the racism, the homophobic business is a different story.
The special effects are outrageously brilliant. Since this is my third review for these Transformers movies, there's very little I have left to say about the special effects. The film's effects haven't quite outdone itself, but instead is on par with the previous two films. The action, although still flawed, looks sleek and elegant VFX-wise. There never has been anything to complain about with the special effects as they've always been at the top of their game.
The third act of this film is far from perfect, but close to decent. The third act of the film is when all hell brakes loose and the film goes into full on action. This action is very fun when it wants to be, but this doesn't mean it comes without flaws. One of the main reasons that it's superior to the rest of the film is that the first two acts just aren't good. The film clocks in at two and a half hours so the pay off isn't worth the wait. It delivers thrills, but the thrills can't make up for the first two tedious acts.
To sum up, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is slightly superior to the second installment, but it can't help the fact that the humour doesn't work, the action is flawed and the first two acts take too long to set up the occasionally thrilling third act.
1 1/2 Stars
Free Birds is the story of a turkey named Reggie (Owen Wilson). On the day before Thanksgiving he is selected by the president (Jimmy Hayward) to be the pardoned turkey, the turkey that will live with his daughter. Reggie soon meets a frantic turkey named Jake (Woody Harrelson) who has been sent to Reggie to assist him in going back in time to stop thanksgiving before it even begins.
Free Birds, admittedly, got a few laughs from me. The film is not a good movie, but it is not as bad as everyone is making it out to be either. I will get into the various problems I have with it later, but for now I'll start with a positive. Throughout all the juvenile, idiotic and dumb humour there is actually a few laughs to be found. They're rare moments, but they work. The problem with these jokes is that the film then goes on to milk them and make that one funny joke repeat itself at several moments throughout. The joke was funny once, but not on the second, third, forth and in some cases, fifth time.
The film's very over the top. This film is not aimed at me, but instead is aimed at a much much younger audience and there's not a doubt in my mind that they'll love it. They'll love how over the top, goofy and silly the movie is. Parents can put it on and it'll kill an easy hour and a half of their children's lives. But if the parent's are forced to sit down and watch the film then they'll understand the pain I had to go through at many moments. The film can get frustrating to watch as it's just clichéd, dumb, unoriginal and everything is forcefully exaggerated. I love animations, they are literally a work of art, and so I can forgive them from occasionally going into unrealistic and over the top territory, but I can't forgive what Free Birds did.
There are too many things to complain about in the third act. I will try my best to avoid spoilers, but if one slips out would you really care? The third act attempts to resolve everything, but by doing so they start a whole bunch of new problems. The film then tries to wrap all these individual plot lines up, but it's practically impossible to do so. What it does instead is create an absolutely dumb and just downright irritating ending as well as a twist that everybody saw coming.
To sum up, Free Birds has a few laughs, but ends up being one of the weaker animations in recent years. The film milks their few half decent jokes, it's clichéd, over the top, goofy, forcefully exaggerated and has an irritating third act.
Grace of Monaco is the true story of Grace Kelly (Nicole Kidman), a former hollywood actress who became royal after marrying Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth). One could argue about the plot of this film, but there would be no official outcome. Some would say it was about her attempt at returning to Hollywood, while others would say it's about the political dispute in Monaco. Some may even say it is about her relationship with her husband, but everybody would be both right and wrong.
Grace of Monaco is a real mess. The film sets itself up to tell the story of Alfred Hitchcock's (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) attempt to get her back to Hollywood, but this plot line is skimmed over and then forgotten halfway through the film. It is not until the closing title card when we are reminded that that was even a part of this forgettable film. This is presumably due to the film trying to cramp in as much as it can about Grace Kelly's life into its limited runtime, resulting in the audience left wondering just how much time had really past since the previous shot.
I would compliment the performances, but they're only decent in comparison to the rest of the movie. During my viewing of this monstrosity of a movie, I was under the impression that Nicole Kidman and Tim Roth were giving mighty fine performances. It was not until I left the cinema when I remembered all of their other works. They're not terrible in this film, but they just look uninterested in the film. They all look bored and that transpires to the audience, making us bored too.
The film's runtime, despite being only 100 minutes, was way too lengthy. I could happily watch a two and a half hour epic about the life of Grace Kelly so long as the execution was done right. Grace of Monaco was executed atrociously and therefore it was a struggle to successfully sit through the entire length of this marathon. I have never checked my watch this frequently in a movie all year and unfortunately checking my watch failed to get me out of the cinema.
Grace of Monaco is sure to stir controversy due to the opening title card. The film opens with a title card that states, please note that I'm paraphrasing it here, "This film is a fictitious account of real life events". This led to many doubts as to what really did happen in Grace Kelly's life. Perhaps it is just as untruthful as many other biopics seem to be, but it doesn't stop me from questioning how truthful the film really is. The whole film could have been a lie just so they could make what they thoughts was going to be a thrilling watch, but oh they were so very wrong.
To sum up, Grace of Monaco features a convoluted plot with too many events attempting to cram themselves into the already painful, and short, runtime. Not to mention, the performances are unfortunately dull, but as is the execution.
Edge of Tomorrow follows the story of coward officer, Major William Cage (Tom Cruise). After an alien invasion on Earth, Cage is forced onto the front line where he is killed alongside many of his fellow soldiers. Immediately after dying he awakens on the previous day, unharmed. Cage soon meets a special forces warrior, Rita (Emily Blunt) who explains that he must defeat the alien race if he wishes to move onto the next day.
The film takes familiar themes and scenarios and makes them its own. Everybody at some point in time has seen a film that features a) an alien invasion with only one man who can stop it or b) a movie where the main character repeats the same day over and over. Edge of Tomorrow uses these two very familiar themes to its advantage and turns them into an exciting, thrilling, fast paced film that will without a doubt go down as a classic piece of science fiction.
Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt are at their finest. Cruise plays a character that's both very unlike many of his previous characters, yet so very similar. Rarely does he get a chance to play a character that's a complete coward. He's unwillingly forced onto the battlefield, but by being forced he transforms into the character that we know and love, but again it's not quite the same. Blunt is also fantastic in the supporting role, giving an absolute ripper of a performance. She proves that women are just as capable as men, if not more capable, at playing kick ass characters in action movies, which most films don't dare to do.
The film is completely shocking at times, especially the suspenseful third act. The film verges on predictability, but a certain event occurs at the end of the second act that looses this completely. From then on out I had no idea what I was expecting to happen. The film could kill off every character and we'd still be left wondering if they're actually dead or if Cage recently woke up again in order to save them. This aspect of the film plays a major role as the storyline progresses too.
Edge of Tomorrow is a real mind bender throughout and it knows it. The film understands the fact that our minds are being warped as we sit and watch the film and so it plays off this concept frequently. It never needs to show every time Cage is killed or is forced to restart because of the sensational storytelling, witty dialogue and brilliant directing. It's not another action film where you can switch your brain off and it'll still have the same effect on you. Edge of Tomorrow tests the capability of our minds and I don't regret it in the least bit.
To sum up, Edge of Tomorrow takes familiar plot points and makes them its own with a fast paced story, exhilarating action, unexpected scenarios, great direction, top notch performances and witty dialogue. It's a classic in the making.
Begin Again tells the story of two unlikely pairs of musicians. The first, Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is a depressed, alcoholic music producer on the verge of wanting to kill himself. When he stumbles in drunk to a pub he hears the lovely voice of Greta (Keira Knightley), a heart broken song writer. Dan offers Greta a chance to make an album here in Manhattan. At first she is hesitant, but after a bit of convincing they begin on their musical adventure.
Begin Again fails to fall under the clichés that usually come with the genre. Begin Again is much more than just a musical bonding movie. The film has so many more layers to it than just what my synopsis serves and what the trailers tease. There is multiple points towards the end of the second act and near the start of the third act where the film feels like it's falling under a bunch of clichés and that it will end up being very predictable, but thankfully this never happens. The film picks itself up and dusts them off, making it a surprisingly original unoriginal movie.
Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo are brilliant in the leads. Begin Again, for me, is one of their standout performances. I couldn't imagine another actor/actors filling into their roles. The two bring such depth and diversity to these characters that we can't help, but know that these are people we should we rooting for and that we care for.
Begin Again is just a watchable movie. There are two films to come out in 2014 so far that are just damn watchable and rewatcable etc. They're Begin Again and The Wolf of Wall Street. Both have this feeling of freshness to them on every viewing, although I am mostly referring to The Wolf of Wall Street as I've only seen Begin Again once. Begin Again isn't a stress to get through or even takes up a long period of the day as it's runtime is just right. The film has many qualities to it that make me predict that it's a film I will come back to over and over again.
The film was hilarious at times. Begin Again manages to be classified, in part, as a comedy, but the humour is more upbeat and modern than the rehashed, but still funny, slapstick and over the top sex humour comedies we get frequently. The humour is occasionally relatable and never failed to put a smile on my face. As well as being funny, the film is also very moving and heart warming. It's definitely one of my favourite films this year and I look forward to seeing it again when it gets a wider release this August.
To sum up, Begin Again occasionally feels like it's going to be predictable, but soon picks itself up by avoiding this. The performances are sensational, the film can get hilarious, original and heart warming. It's just a very watchable movie.
Gabrielle follows the story of a 22 year old French woman with a disability named, well, Gabrielle (Gabrielle Marion-Rivard). She is being cared for by her mother and sister, but at the same time is living at a recreation centre with plenty of her special needs friends from her choir. Gabrielle falls in love with a 25 year old man named Martin (Alexandre Landry), but after attempting to have a more sexual relationship the two are forced apart. Because of this, Gabrielle strives to prove that she's capable of being an independent woman.
I'm going to begin by telling my own story. Prior to going into this film I had little knowledge of what it was about, yadda yadda yadda I've said this multiple times in the past week. It wasn't until I got into the cinema that I found out the film was in French, but luckily I have nothing against reading subtitles so it didn't lower my enthusiasm. By the time the film's closing credits rolled I was in love with these characters, I cared for them and tremendously wished that all would be well, although by that time I knew the outcome of the film. Gabrielle is far from the best film this year, or even one of the best, but as far as characters go this one shines.
The performances in the film are mind-blowingly realistic. Both of the main two actors are new to film, this being their debut movies, but this doesn't stop their talent from oozing out onto screen. Their captivating performances and realistic actions help to make this movie what it is. These performances spread far wider than just those two, however. The supporting cast are practically on par with more spectacular performances that helped to create a nurtured film that obviously has had a great amount of love put into it. Gabrielle feels as though it's be taken right from the director's heart.
The film gets very predictable as the story moves on. While I was rooting for Gabrielle and Martin and for the entire runtime was hoping they'd get what they want, I already knew the answer to my question. Complications do arise along the way and this led to a small moment or two of doubt, but as the film got going I already knew the outcome. This outcome was very much what I expected and while it's not a disappointing ending, it's exactly what you would expect.
To sum up, Gabrielle is very predictable and is far from being the best film this year, but it still manages to entertain with mind-blowingly realistic performances, developed characters and a director's obvious passion towards making the movie.