Posts Tagged ‘jennifer lawrence’


X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

December 23, 2016

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner, Nicholas Hoult
Director: Bryan Singer (X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Superman Returns, X-Men 2)

Bottom Line: Judging from the trailers, this movie looked every bit as messy as Batman Vs Superman so I skipped it in theaters and now having watched it at home, I can see my fears were completely justified. It’s terrible. When an X-Men movie starts off in ancient Egypt and looks more like a sequel to The Mummy you know things are not looking up. Oscar Isaac seems like a highly capable actor, especially in last year’s Ex Machina, but his portrayal of Apocalypse will probably go down as one of the worst roles of his career. The rest of the new cast adds little to the overall story. The new Cyclops is kind of cool, but Sophie Turner is horribly miscast as Jean Grey, feeling nothing like a young version of Famke Janssen’s take on the character. I was excited to see Jubilee in action for the first time, but she is merely a background character.

I wasn’t looking forward to director Bryan Singer’s return to the franchise – especially after Matthew Vaughan did such a good job with X-Men: First Class – but he managed to bring his original trilogy and the reboot together seamlessly in X-Men: Days Of Future Past, making a solid movie out of a concept that could have been executed so poorly. Well, he couldn’t save the mess of a script he’s dealt here and history repeats itself, as the X-Men franchise once again delivers two good movies and a third one so bad it’s likely going to need another reboot.

This movie is all action spectacle and little else. You’ll likely be looking at your phone after 15 minutes.

Replay Value: Another X-Men movie that doesn’t exist to me.
Sequel Potential: I think the franchise dies again with this film, but Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has another adventure due out next year with Logan.
Oscar Potential: How about Razzie potential?

Grade: 2.5/10 (horrible/skip it)


My Top 5 Actors and Actresses in 2016

November 18, 2016

I just finished watching Trumbo starring Bryan Cranston and it inspired me to think of my favorite actors of the current film era. This list in no way reflects a life time of work – so legends like Pacino, Nicholson, and De Niro are notably absent – it is simply a list of the actors or actresses I’d most like to see in a movie if it came out tomorrow:

1. Leonardo DiCaprio
2. Christian Bale
3. Benedict Cumberbatch
4. Daniel Day-Lewis
5. Bryan Cranston

Comments: Leo has been the most consistently awesome actor of the past 15 years. The Wolf Of Wall Street, Django Unchained, Inception, and The Departed were all my favorite films of their respective release years – and only The Wolf Of Wall Street represents one of his five total Oscar nominations. Dude is crushing. Bale was a great Bruce Wayne (and a good Batman) but he’s on this list for his work in The Fighter, American Hustle, The Big Short, and American Psycho. Cumberbatch has leaped up on my list because of his brillaint work as Sherlock Holmes and his Oscar nominated performance in The Imitation Game. Plus, he was perfect casting for Marvel’s Doctor Strange, giving an unheralded superhero an extra level of credibility. Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t always star in movies, but when he does, he usually gets nominated for Best Actor and then he usually wins – he’s the only actor in history to win Best Actor three times. Cranston’s peformance in “Breaking Bad” is one of the best you will ever see. He’s just now establishing himself as a big name in the movies, getting an Oscar nomination in his first major starring role in 2015 for Trumbo. I haven’t seen The Infiltrator yet, but I’m sure he’s great in it and I suspect he’s going to be one of the most consistent actors in the next 5-10 years.

Honorable Mentions: Tom Hardy, Denzel Washington, Michael Fassbender, Jake Gyllenhall, Ryan Gosling, Idris Elba, Eddie Redmayne, Christoph Waltz

1. Jennifer Lawrence
2. Amy Adams
3. Meryl Streep
4. Kate Winslet
5. Scarlett Johansson

Comments: Jennifer Lawrence was basically unknown in 2010 when Winter’s Bone came out and garnered her first Best Actress nomination. She’s been nominated for an acting Oscar in four of the last six years, including a Best Actress win for Silver Linings Playbook, and has starred in the ultra successful Hunger Games franchise, establishing herself as the most talented and most successful young actress in the world. Adams has 5 acting nominations since 2006 and her performance in Enchanted was far better than that movie deserved. It’s highly likely that she will be nominated for this year’s Arrival as well. Not much to be said about Meryl Streep. She’s the GOAT. 15 acting nominations in her career – and only one win (a crime!). Kate Winslet has become this generation’s Meryl Streep. None of her movies really jump out at you as great, but her work in them is undeniably phenomenal. She has 7 acting nominations since 1996, but only one win (The Reader). Scarlett Johansson has quietly put together a very impressive and largely overlooked resume. Maybe it’s her overwhelming beauty or the fact she’s played an Avenger five times in the past six years, but Scarlett has been giving great performances since Ghost World and The Man Who Wasn’t There in the early 2000s. She’s still searching for her first Oscar nomination.

Honorable Mentions: Charlize Theron, Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren, Marion Cotillard, Natalie Portman


Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2 (2014-2015)

November 29, 2015

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore
Director: Francis Lawrence (Catching Fire, I Am Legend)

Bottom Line: Mockingjay, the finale of the film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series, clocks in at a brutal 4 hours and 30 minutes – and it’s excruciating. I liked the first movie just fine and the second one I felt was okay, but this final film is 4.5 hours of not much at all. Katniss has escaped the Quarter Quell games and is now holed up with the rebel alliance, a group of people led by Julianne Moore’s President Coin looking for someone to rally behind as their poster child and Katniss Everdeen fits the bill perfectly. And that’s what Mockingjay part 1 is and very little else. It’s a total snooze fest. Part 2 might be worse. In that film, the rebels march towards the capital to take out President Snow, which seems like it might have a climactic end to it, but even Snow’s demise is a let down and so is the whole finale.

I love me some Jennifer Lawrence, but I’m grateful that her ties to this series are over. It’s just not that good. Katniss is a good character, but I’m not sure anyone else in this series is. I just hate to see Lawrence’s talent wasted on something so simple. I’ve never been a fan of the two main guy characters in this series. The Jacob-Edward love triangle is trite and takes away from Katniss’ real fight, which is with the Capitol. Honestly, how necessary to the plot is the character of Gale? How likable is Peeta? These characters only exist to provide side conflicts for the heroin. Mostly, Mockingjay was way too long and for a blockbuster popcorn flick, it seriously lacked action. This movie had two hours of material that could have hit the cutting room floor, but the new trend in Hollywood is to break the last book of a successful movie franchise into two parts. It was smart for Harry Potter, but it’s been utterly ridiculous for everyone else that has tried it.

I would only recommend either of the Mockingjay movies to someone that is already predisposed to liking them. Or maybe they won’t. My wife has been watching Harry Potter on repeat to wash the taste of this movie out of her mouth. If you like the concept of The Hunger Games, I’d recommend Koushun Takami’s novel Battle Royale or the Japanese film adaptation of his book; it’s way more interesting, violent, and action packed, with none of the silly love triangle filler.

Replay Value: No way I’d ever watch this last entry again.
Sequel Potential: Is it possible? The Hunger Games are a cash cow, so some sequel or spin off or remake will almost certainly surface some day.
Oscar Potential: Maybe some technical categories, but probably not.

Grade: 3.5/10 (Forgettable/Just Skip It)

SPOILER: How is Collins going to kill off Primrose after Katniss sacrifices her life for her and sets the whole series in motion? I can’t imagine how fans of the series would be happy with that ending.


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


Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

March 3, 2013

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver
Director: David O. Russell (The Fighter, Three Kings)

Quick Thoughts: David O. Russell follows up The Fighter with another powerful film in Silver Linings Playbook. This film tackles mental disorders and broken relationships, but is still a love story at its core. Russell seems to have a knack for coaxing great performances out of his casts. After earning three acting nominations for The Fighter, the Silver Linings Playbook cast managed four. De Niro gives his best effort in at least ten years, Lawrence cements her status as the best young actress in the business, and Cooper is shockingly awesome. Truly, in most years without a Daniel Day Lewis movie, Cooper deserves an Oscar. The material handled here could easily be presented in an annoying fashion, but the cast makes it work…wonderfully. The end result is a sweet and troubled love story, the kind of which a man shouldn’t have to be dragged to the theater to see.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Worthy of owning.
Sequel Potential: None…however, Lawrence and Cooper have signed on to Russel’s next project, along with Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner, and Amy Adams. Holy crap.
Oscar Potential: A Best Actress win for Lawrence (the first of many?), nominations for Cooper, De Niro, Weaver, Russell, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Nudity: I don’t recall, but Seth MacFarlane noted at The Oscars: “and Jennifer Lawrence’s boobs we haven’t seen at all.”
Grade: 8/10 (Excellent)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 92% Audience: 88%
IMDB Rating: 8/10
Recommendation: A fantastic movie featuring great performances. A love story both sides of a couple should appreciate.


Winter’s Bone (2010)

February 17, 2011

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes
Director: Debra Granik (Down To The Bone)
Quick Thoughts: Meet Jennifer Lawrence. The 20 year old actress gives one of the best performances of the year in Winter’s Bone. How often does a young and relatively unknown actor or actress completely carry movie on their backs? Not often, but that’s the case here. Lawrence plays Ree Doddy, a 17 year old country girl that finds herself struggling to get by while caring for her two younger siblings because their mother is incompetent and mute and their father has disappeared. The law comes looking for Ree’s dad and gives notice that if he doesn’t appear for a court date, they are going to have to give up their property, which sends Ree on a hunt for her father and into the dark and twisted roots of their family tree. It’s a haunting film. We’re talking about a world where its commonplace to offer your 17 year old niece a joint as a sympathetic gesture because you’re husband just got done physically threatening her and there’s nothing wrong with teaching your 12 year old brother and six year old sister how to shoot a hunting rifle because they just might have to provide for themselves in the near future. It’s a grim tale and Ree really has no one to turn to because her family, immediate and extended, are all involved in cooking up crank. And don’t fuck with grandpa cause he will have your ass beat if you start asking questions. Or maybe kill you. Oddly enough, she finds an ally in her Uncle Teardrop, played by John Hawkes in an Oscar-nominated performance. At first, Teapot is painted as your typical drug-addled, abusive hick, but Hawkes turns the character into something deeper and sinister. Speaking of Oscar nominations, Lawrence got a well deserved nomination and even though Natalie Portman is heavily favored to win the statuette, Jennifer Lawrence is a serious darkhorse candidate. At any rate, her performance is better than Annette Bening in The Kids Are Alright or Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit. Winter’s Bone is at times heartbreaking, intense, and gripping. A true sleeper in 2010 and one you shouldn’t miss.
Viewings: 1
Replay Value: More of a one time film than something you keep on repeat.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: Four nominations: Best Actress for Jennifer Lawrence, Best Supporting Actor for John Hawkes, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Nudity: None.
Grade: 8/10 (Excellent)
Recommendation: Winter’s Bone has been overlooked by the masses, but it’s one of the better 2010 films I’ve seen. A solid thriller with some standout performances.