Posts Tagged ‘2013 movies’


Bunch Of Movie Ratings Added

January 21, 2015

I added ratings for every film I saw in 2013 and 2014. You can check those out here and here. Also, if you missed my poker goals for 2015, you can read that post here.


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire & Last Vegas (2013)

November 24, 2013

It would be nice if I could get to a point where I updated this blog on a daily basis. It really shouldn’t be that difficult to find 20 minutes a day (or even less) to write about something interesting that happened that day. My current excuses are that my schedule and my girlfriend keep me from doing much writing. I tend to work, hang out with Dina, stay up late, spend my free time playing or studying poker, and sleep away most mornings and early afternoons. Also, Dina doesn’t care much for sharing my attention, even with inanimate objects like computers and cell phones. Regardless, 20 minutes a day to write seems like a reasonable goal. But since I’ve had trouble updating this blog even a couple times a month, I’m starting smaller: one post a week and see if I can improve from there.

Obviously I like to write about movies, so what have I seen lately? Friday I saw Hunger Games: Catching Fire and I’m honestly not entirely sure how I felt about it. I read the first book, but lost interest very early into the second one so I have no basis to compare it to the source material. I will say I found it mostly enjoyable, even if it felt like it retread a lot of ground covered in the first movie. I was pretty excited when Jennifer Lawrence was cast as Katniss Everdeen, but this is probably the least interesting role I’ve seen her in. I’m looking forward to her next film American Hustle much more than I was this movie. Still, there are moments in Catching Fire that gave me goosebumps, particularly when Katniss and Peeta landed in Rue’s district on their victory tour. Truthfully, the story works best when Katniss is defying The Capital rather than when it focuses on it’s boring love triangle. The contestants in this Quarter Quell version of The Hunger Games which finds former victors facing off with one another are much more fleshed out and interesting than in the first film, but unfortunately, after quite a bit of build up the movie ends rather abruptly. I definitely thought: wait, where’s the climax? I wasn’t expecting too much of Catching Fire so overall, I found it enjoyable, but far from spectacular. Fans of the series will almost certainly enjoy it. 6/10

I also saw Last Vegas a couple weeks ago and it was also an okay movie. Obviously taking its cue from The Hangover, it’s a similar film for an older generation with a lighter sense of humor. Not many gross out gags, just a bunch of old guys gathering in Vegas for a wedding and shenanigans ensue that often play on their elderly state. The film is rather predictable, but I found it funny and liked it more than I thought it would. Older crowds with realistic expectations (i.e. recognizing none of these veteran actors are going to be on their A-game) should enjoy it quite a bit and even younger crowds should find it amusing. There’s not much meat to this movie so I don’t have too much to say about it. Worth a rental, I guess. 5.5/10


The Wolverine (2013)

August 2, 2013

Starring: Hugh Jackman
Director: James Mangold (Walk The Line, Girl, Interrupted, 3:10 To Yuma)

I can’t say I was too excited to see The Wolverine, but with a lack of other options that fit our time frame and a girlfriend and mother that refuse to watch movies in 3D, it seemed like the obvious choice. After the disappointing X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006 and the travesty that was 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine–a film so bad it killed off an entire franchise before it even started–my interest in the continuing sagas of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine had pretty much evaporated. Fortunately, Matthew Vaughn breathed new life into the the X-Men franchise in 2011 with First Class and then The Avengers put everyone on alert, and the result is a pretty good solo Wolverine flick.

Interestingly enough, The Wolverine acknowledges the previous X-Men films–even the shitty third installment that includes the death of Jean Grey–and manages to bridge the gap between time periods and tell its own story, all while not totally sucking. That’s an accomplishment after the terrible origin film. Obviously Hugh Jackman is great as the title character and while this film doesn’t really challenge the actor’s abilities, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the role.

Setting the film in Japan was a good concept. I liked seeing Wolverine interact with mostly human characters in an environment you wouldn’t really expect to see in a film about a mutant superhero. It was a breath of fresh air in the comic book genre. Although, there was a scene that takes place on top of a train that while kind of awesome and funny, is pretty ridiculous for the human Japanese characters. The two Japanese lead actresses did a good job and Rila Rukushima was particularly awesome as Yukio. In fact, aside from a two hour running time that feels more like two and a half hours, The Wolverine‘s biggest weakness is in its villains. Viper is the main villain in the film and is played by a Russian actress that I’m unfamiliar with. Not only is the character a Poison Ivy rip off, but a white woman playing the lead antagonist in a film with a Japanese setting seems wildly out of place. Everything about her sucks: the acting, the concept, the motive. Ugh. The climax is a face off with the Silver Samurai that, well, is just bizarre. Wolverine fighting ninjas and yakuza? Awesome. Wolverine fighting mutants and old, Japanese men in robot suits? Crap.

Basically, The Wolverine is an enjoyable film that could have been much better with a different final act and more interesting villains. As it is, it’s still a step forward from the last film in the Wolverine franchise, and the mid-credits scene (the best moment in the whole film!) is reason to be excited about the future.

Grade: 5.5/10 (Recommended/Rent It)

Replay Value: Not worth owning unless you’re a die hard fan. I’ll probably never see it again.
Sequel Potential: Wolverine will be making his next appearance in 2014’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past.
Oscar Potential: None.
Nudity: None.
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 67% Audience: 75%
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10

Recommendation: Not really worth theater prices, but something that’s worth watching when it comes out to rent. I’d rank the X-Men films as follows: X-Men: First Class, X2, X-Men, The Wolverine, X-Men: The Last Stand, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.


Man Of Steel (2013)

June 21, 2013

Starring: Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams
Director: Zack Snyder (Watchmen trilogy, 300, Sucker Punchy)

Quick Thoughts: What a spectacle. That was my first thought leaving the theater after watching Man Of Steel, which was probably my most anticipated film this summer. Director Zack Snyder can handle action. We know that much and those looking for a Superman that finally kicks some real ass, you’ll get it here. There’s plenty of super fights, massive property destruction, and a finale that is almost overwhelmingly heavy on action. It was enough to make me want to go back and see it in IMAX 3D.

Man Of Steel almost feels like you’re watching two films. The first half of the movie feels much like producer Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins while the second half plays out, well, like a Zack Snyder film. Much like Begins the first half of Man Of Steel switches between scenes of Clark Kent dealing with his unnatural abilities as a child and discovering himself as an adult. Unlike Begins, where you become quite invested in Bruce Wayne’s story, Man Of Steel seems a bit slow and I was pretty eager to move along to the Superman stuff. Also, the sequence on Krypton, in particular, is overly long and a bit confusing. The second half of the film feels a lot like an alien invasion movie. I kept thinking of Independence Day during the second act.

It’s interesting that DC took such a realistic approach with Superman right after The Dark Knight trilogy finished. Certainly, Snyder’s Superman would fit comfortably into Nolan’s Batman universe. Nolan has stated that he is finished with Batman, however, and Man Of Steel is supposed to be the first step towards an eventual Justice League movie; one that will likely feature a rebooted Batman. It’s all quite a mess and as a massive fan of DC Comics, I have to say I’m concerned.

Regardless, even with my ridiculous expectations for Man Of Steel, I’m pretty satisfied with the finished product. Henry Cavill is perfect as Superman, General Zod and crew are formidable first opponents, the action is amazing, and Russell Crowe is great as Jor-El. David Goyer took some liberties with the Superman mythos–notably on how Lois Lane and Superman first meet and Superman’s morality–but I thought these were handled delicately and actually made sense for modern (and more realistic) versions of the characters. Lois Lane is an investigative journalist, after all, and it’s always been pretty unbelievable that no one can figure out that Superman and Clark Kent are one in the same. With all the pressure from the crazy success of The Avengers and Marvel’s ridiculously smart blueprint for creating their cinematic universe, I’m nervous about DC trying to match it by rushing into a Justice League movie, but even so, I’m looking forward to Man Of Steel 2

Replay Value: I’m anxious to see it again in IMAX 3D.
Sequel Potential: Release date already announced and this character will eventually show up in a Justice League movie.
Oscar Potential: Maybe some visual effects and sound recognition.
Nudity: None.
Grade: 7/10 (Must See)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 56% Audience: 82%
IMDB Rating: 8.1/10

Recommendation: The critics are way off on this one. 2006’s Superman Returns is a 75% and sucks. Man Of Steel blows it away and I think even the critics would agree with that. I’ll admit it didn’t meet my expectations, but this is still an above average superhero film and a great reintroduction of the Superman character.


The Croods (2013)

March 28, 2013

Starring: voices of Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds
Director: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders (How To Train Your Dragon, Lilo & Stitch)

Quick Thoughts: This movie kicked all sorts of ass. As far as kids movies go, The Croods is the nuts. Filled with great animation, memorable characters, stellar voice acting, and a surprising amount of quality humor, The Croods is spectacular family filmmaking. Nicholas Cage as the dim, over protective father figure gives his most inspired performance since Adaptation. Perhaps he’s better suited behind a mic? The Croods are definitely a family you can get behind rooting for and their adventure will have you laughing out loud the whole time and walking out with a smile on your face. I do regret not seeing this in 3D, however, as the trailersI saw in 3D for it looked awesome.

Replay Value: I will probably add this to my own collection and think it would be great for kids to watch repeatedly.
Sequel Potential: Remember this moment: The Croods is a fantastic animated movie that opened to $46 million. By 2018, we’ll probably be sick of this family.
Oscar Potential: Pixar’s Monsters University will probably be stiff competition for the Best Animated Movie Oscar, but The Croods would’ve been a shoo-in if it came out last year.
Nudity: None.
Grade: 8/10 (Excellent)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 67% Audience: 86%
IMDB Rating: 7.5/10

Recommendation: Honestly, that 67% critics rating is absurd; The Croods is great fun for both kids and adults. The first must see film of 2013.


Safe Haven (2013)

March 6, 2013

Starring: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, Cobie Smulders
Director: Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules)

Quick Thoughts: I’ll admit to owning The Notebook, but nothing else that has been adapted for the movies in the Nicholas Sparks collection has struck my interest and half of the movies based on his books I don’t even remember coming out. Needless to say, I had no interest in watching Safe Haven and it’s 13% rotten rating had me absolutely dreading having to sit through it. But when you’re in a relationship, sometimes, them the breaks.

Well, Safe Haven certainly didn’t disappoint with it’s snail-like pace and uninteresting, predictable plot. The movie opens with Julianne Hough running away from an apparent law enforcement officer and settling down in a quiet town, hoping not to be bothered or recognized. It doesn’t take much running time to figure out who the real bad guy is and when the “reveal” does happen, it’s borderline insulting… but that doesn’t quite match what Safe Haven has in store for us later in film when the final twist is learned. I mean, Cobie Smulders (from “How I Met Your Mother”) had to be in this movie for some reason, right? Seriously though, Sparks takes the one touching moment he managed to find in his novel and then slaps the audience across the face one more time. Apologies for any potential spoilers here, but if you can’t figure this one out by the half hour mark, well…

I could go on listing reasons why I didn’t enjoy Safe Haven, but I didn’t want to waste my time watching it, so I’m certainly not going to waste too much time writing about it.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: None, IMO
Sequel Potential: None
Oscar Potential: Zero.
Nudity: None
Grade: 2.5/10 (Horrible/Skip It)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 13% Audience: 71%
IMDB Rating: 6.2/10
Recommendation: Boyfriends, if you’re worried about seeing this movie, you should be! I’ve seen more painful movies in my day, but I’d bet Safe Haven is the worst film I see in 2013.