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Review: Nothing Bad Can Happen photo
Review: Nothing Bad Can Happen
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

The German title of Nothing Bad Can Happen is "Tore Dances," something I knew from the beginning thanks to the multiple attempts I have made at learning German in my life. It's one of the few things I remember, but I'm glad it's something I knew from the outset, because while a name like "Nothing Bad Can Happen" is immediately off-putting, "Tore Dances" is not. No movie called Nothing Bad Is Going to Happen is going to end well. I mean, seriously. Right off the bat, you see that and you call bullshit. "Tore Dances," on the other hand, leaves a bit more to the imagination. It's also a bit less marketable (people are definitely more interested in seeing something bad happen than watching Tore dance), so I can understand why the change was made.

But let's talk about why Tore dances.

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Review: Coherence photo
Review: Coherence
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Coherence is part of a genre that will be heretofore referred to as "subtle sci-fi." Mention sci-fi to anyone and they'll think of Star Wars or Star Trek first. And they'll think of those films because that's what we've been bred to believe sci-fi is. These are worlds unlike our own, whether they're far in the future or a way in the past. They may feature people who look like us, but their characters don't really live like us. They're surrounded by robots and aliens and guns that shoot lasers. They're the things we imagine our technology will be capable of.

What people won't think of is Coherence, even though it's firmly entrenched in that genre. They won't think about it because the world of Coherence is the same one you and I am writing in and the same one you are reading in. There's no special technology, nothing that distinguishes their world from ours. Everything feels real not just on a dramatic level but on a visceral level. You believe that these people are in this position, and you wonder if maybejust maybeit could happen to you.

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Review: 22 Jump Street photo
Review: 22 Jump Street
by Matthew Razak

Despite being proven horribly wrong when 21 Jump Street film came out and it turned out to be hilarious instead of horrible I was once again a doubter when news hit that 22 Jump Street was coming along. The first one worked and here comes the obligatory sequel that will just recap all the old jokes and ruin it was my line of thinking.

Sometimes it's good to be wrong... twice. I suppose I shouldn't have been so suspect with basically the entire creative team returning for the film, but how was I supposed to know they'd actually make a comedy sequel that was both different from the original and smart in its own way. It's not something movie studios usually do, but both Jump Street films have proven that the series (please let there be more) is all about pointing out or expectations and then destroying them.

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Review: How to Train Your Dragon 2 photo
Review: How to Train Your Dragon 2
by Nick Valdez

Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon was refreshing. Setting new standards for book adaptations and animated films, Dragon somehow was everything you look for in an entertaining kid's movie. It had a tight hero's journey story (that was nuanced enough for adults and respected kids' intelligence), good looking visuals, a great voice cast, and it managed all of this while being cute as a button. 

Good thing its sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2, keeps the momentum going as it raises the bar for sequels going forward. With how prevalent inadequate sequels/prequels/reboots have been in Hollywood lately, I'd forgive you for fearing Dragon 2 would suffer the same fate. Luckily, we don't have to worry about that one bit. Cheap little throwaways are not going to cut it anymore. 

We've got a contender for Best Animated Film of 2014 right here folks. 

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Review: Lullaby photo
Review: Lullaby
by Nick Valdez

Disease dramas are in a subgenre that certainly has more misses than hits. If not done in a certain way, you can turn an emotionally stirring story into a schmaltzy mess. Often films find it incredibly difficult to find a balance, but as such with real life, there's no rule book or true direction as to how to deal with death. Filming this very unnatural, awkward run through the five stages of grief could lead to a good film. 

But when you condense that into two hours, there's not a lot of room explore. Sadly, that seems to be Lullaby in a nutshell. A film that really wants to walk through the five stages of grief when it really should jog at a brisk pace. 

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Review: Edge of Tomorrow photo
Review: Edge of Tomorrow
by Matthew Razak

With Jupiter Ascending getting pushed back to February Edge of the Tomorrow might be the last of the original summer action movies left standing. Yes, it's an adaptation of a short Japanese novel, but that is still more original than the majority of sequels and and remakes taking up the rest of the summer. As such it had me very interested for it despite the lack of buzz.

It's also an insanely interesting concept. Basically you're getting Groundhog Day, but with mechs, aliens, Tom Cruise and Emily blunt. Throw in the underrated Doug Liman as director and you've got a movie that ten years ago would have been a tent pole, but instead is struggling for relevance. It shouldn't be because other than one tragic flaw it's an absolute blast. 

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Review: Maleficent photo
Review: Maleficent
by Nick Valdez

I've been anticipating Maleficent for a long time. As a big Disney fan, I don't usually like when Disney decides to make a live action version of one of their properties (101 Dalmations is worse than you remember, trust me), but casting Angelina Jolie as the titular witch was enough to pique my interest. 

Trailer after trailer showed off how good Jolie looked in costume, Lana Del Rey's amazingly dark "Once Upon a Dream" cover, and even made me interested in the whole "this is the TRUE story" angle. But the entire time I've been worried that the actual film might not live up to the mountain of hype I'd made for myself thanks to the recent glut of lackluster gritty fairy tale reboots. Thankfully, the final product isn't too far off the mark.

Maleficent is like a fine ham and cheese quiche that might not have been baked long enough. It's still good, but some bites are a little more raw than others.

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Review: A Million Ways to Die in the West photo
Review: A Million Ways to Die in the West
by Nick Valdez

Seth MacFarlane's directorial debut, Ted, was a welcome surprise. It was a mix of a charming friendship, un-ironic love of the 80s, and gratuitous amount of raunchy humor. Like the best episodes of MacFarlane's Family Guy, it managed a fine balance between all of those things to provide a high quality product. With his sophomore effort, A Million Ways to Die in the West, I was hoping things would be a little less, well, sophomoric. 

A Million Ways starts strong, but as it continues, it feels like a million years as joke after joke is thrown out with hopes that one of them works. As jokes continually fail, and extraneous scenes pile onto the film's near two hour run, I soon realized I'd rather die in a million different ways than continue watching this juvenile mess.

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Review: Blended photo
Review: Blended
by Matthew Razak

Blended is Drew Barrymore and Adama Sandler's third movie together after The Wedding Singer and  50 First Dates. Evidently that's a thing now. Like they make a romantic comedy of sorts with each other every ten years. Because it's a thing we're supposed to think fondly of their return to the big screen.

The problem is that after Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2 it is physically impossible to think of Adam Sandler fondly anymore. He has spent and and all good will he's built up previously and now any movie starring him should be an instant red flag of suck. With the bar set so incredibly low is it actually a good thing to say that Blended is surprisingly not the worst movie ever? No, I suppose that's still a bad thing.

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Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past photo
Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past
by Nick Valdez

The X-Men movies have a troubled past. Three out of the six previous films have been critically ripped apart. Yet in spite of their dubious quality, each of the X-Films have done extremely well commercially. Basically, no matter how bad we might say the franchise has gotten, there's still a desire to see each one. I know I still watch these movies hoping they'll nail it someday. 

But where does that leave the seventh film in the X-Men series, Days of Future Past? After rebooting the franchise, rebooting Wolverine's origins, changing directors multiple times (and will sadly have to do that once again thanks to recent unfortunate events), and creating a continuity so convoluted no one knows what's going on anymore, Days of Future Past has quite the mountain to climb. 

Luckily for both fans of the X-Men and fans of comic book movies in general, Days of Future Past says "F**k all that" and delivers the best X-Men film to date. 

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Review: Million Dollar Arm photo
Review: Million Dollar Arm
by Matthew Razak

A feel good sports movie from Disney? I don't think anyone was expecting anything to earth shattering from Million Dollar Arm. Life lessons will be learned. Sports will be played. People will change. It's the kind of thing that Disney has become a pro at, and your enjoyment on Million Dollar Arm will rest entirely on whether or not you're tired of sports movie cliches.

Also, John Hamm is just a damn charming man. Damn charming.

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Review: Godzilla photo
Review: Godzilla
by Matthew Razak

When that first roar hits you know they did this thing right. There's a chill that will go down your spine if you're a Godzilla fan. As he moves you'll wonder at how they found that perfect balance between rubber suit and actual monster. This is Godzilla.

Godzilla's previous American outing was a sin against all things good in the world, but this one, this one knows what's up. Well, at least when it comes to giant monsters knocking the sh*t out of each other in the middle of cities. That's what really matters, right?

There's plenty to be said about the new film, and it isn't all positive, but in the crucial aspects -- the ones that have always made Godzilla fun -- it succeeds. 

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Review: Don Peyote photo
Review: Don Peyote
by Nick Valdez

Whenever someone mentions Dan Fogler, I'm suddenly interested. He's a comedic dynamo who always seems to choose interesting or niche projects. Directing his second film since 2009, Fogler displays acting ability that he really hasn't be able to show off yet. With Don Peyote's strange, but cool tale, Fogler has a grand spectrum of insanity.

It's just a shame that the rest of the film falls apart. 

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Review: Neighbors photo
Review: Neighbors
by Nick Valdez

I had completely written off Neighbors. Coming off of Seth Rogen's last starring role in This is the End, the first trailer for Neighbors underwhelmed me. I've gotten used to Rogen acting, writing, and directing his own films so I was a little concerned when Rogen placed himself in someone else's film. Was his lack of major involvement going to impact the overall quality of the film? Should you expect less because Rogen didn't write a lot of it himself? 

Thankfully not. Even with some groan inducers, Neighbors is a little smart. It just needs to reign it in a bit. 

[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of South by Southwest 2014. It is being reposted to coincide with the film's wide release.]

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Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 photo
Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
by Nick Valdez

The first Amazing Spider-Man failed to live up to the "Amazing" in its title. But while it wasn't perfect, it certainly had potential to become something great. Like with most superhero franchises, there's always a promise of better stories once the origin is out of the way. Despite some troubling advertising the last few months (the barrage of trailers, the announcement of yearly sequels and spin-offs), I still found myself looking forward to the The Amazing Spider-Man 2. 

When done in an amazing, spectacular, or superior fashion, Spider-Man movies could be the best comic book films out there. More so than any other superhero, Peter Parker is relatable. He's just a goofy guy who's in way over his head sometimes. And the same thing can be said of this movie. 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is in way over its head. When power is handled irresponsibly, you get a fun but awkward web of a film. 

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Review: Brick Mansions photo
Review: Brick Mansions
by Nick Valdez

Brick Mansions is a complete surprise. I had no prior knowledge of it going in (didn't know it was a remake of the French film, District 13), and decided to finally see it when one of the trailers managed to grab my attention. I had completely expected generic action, maybe some cool guy lines from the late Paul Walker, and maybe it'd be fun. 

What I didn't expect was how much fun I'd have. It's grandiose, silly, but most importantly, it never once loses an ounce of sincerity. Brick Mansions is stacked, and that's a fact. Ain't holding nothing back. 

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Review: The Other Woman photo
Review: The Other Woman
by Matthew Razak

The Other Woman is a raunchy comedy that wants to be taken emotionally seriously while promoting the fact that woman are awesome and can easily take the lead in any kind of film. It basically wants to be Bridesmaids, but unlike that modern comedy classic it instead comes off as crass and completely insulting to the very female characters it wants to glorify. Falling quickly into tropes, stereotypes and comic cliches it veers dangerously into trouble as its attempt at female empowerment turns into the worst case of justice porn this side of a serial killer getting killed at the end of a horror film. 

It's a despicable film that clearly has no idea what it's doing as it contradicts its own themes constantly throughout its entire run, eventually landing in a big puddle of false feminism that would set the movement back years if anyone actually cared about the movie. Oh, and there's a pooping scene. Because when you're not actually funny you always run to poop. 

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Review: Soft in the Head photo
Review: Soft in the Head
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Every once in a while, I see a movie that feels truly unique, and when that happens I tend to obsess over the process instead of the result. For better or worse, some films are just different, and while I definitely appreciate that difference, sometimes I really just have to wonder why.

Soft in the Head is different, and I spent much of the film wondering. I never found an answer.

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Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier photo
Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
by Nick Valdez

Captain America: The First Avenger is my favorite film out of the Marvel line up (which is why I claimed this review). Captain America has always been my personal favorite Marvel character due to a mix of that cool Saturday morning cartoon aired on Fox Kids, his stance during the Civil War comic event, and how fun he is to play in the Marvel vs. Capcom series. Beyond that, Steve Rogers has always been a character that spoke to me personally.

When stripped of the Americana facade and super human strength, you have a stagnant man within a world that's constantly changing around him. A real fish out of water. In a post-Avengers world, when it seemed like we'd finally get an America movie that delivered on the promise of the first, we're left with The Winter Soldier

That's not to say it's devoid of entertainment. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is like a wiffleball bat; a fun toy with no real weight to it. 

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Review: Divergent photo
Review: Divergent
by Nick Valdez

Back before the final Twilight film hit theaters, I wrote up an article in which I discussed whether or not certain Young Adult book films would be the "next big thing." My initial outlook for Divergent looked good, but that was way before The Hunger Games became stupidly popular. Sure it's hard to compare the two franchises, but in true post-apocalyptic fashion, one can't survive as long as the other does. 

In order to succeed, in order to distinguish itself in a growing sea of teen books, movies, and same looking franchises, Divergent needs to diverge enough from the norm to stand out. Too bad we have to wait for a sequel to see if that happens. 

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Review: Sabotage photo
Review: Sabotage
by Matthew Razak

I've been hyping Sabotage since I first heard about it. I'm a huge Arnold Schwarzenegger fan and a huge David Ayers (End of Watch) fan so the two together sounds like sweet, sweet cop action bliss. Ayers is great and melding action and drama while developing actual characters and Schwarzenegger is great at... well... being in action movies. Things looked pretty good.

It was easy to get excited to because the supporting cast was really solid and the trailers actually advertised the film in the right way. Heading in I was certain I was going to have a good time at this movie. You know what? I did. 

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Review: Noah photo
Review: Noah
by Matthew Razak

To preface this review I'd like to point you towards this article, which explains how I, as a DC film critic, finally got to see Noah ahead of time. Basically, Paramount for some reason thought it would be grand to screen the film for only religious critics, and when they got called on their crap threw the company that does the screenings under the bus. On the plus side they did arrange a screening so I got to see Noah ahead of time for this review (which was embargoed until today despite opening last night).

But that really has nothing to do with Darren Aronofky's biggest movie yet. At $130 million dollars this isn't the small budget fare we're use to seeing from him. Instead it is an epic in the most biblical sense of the word. It's a daunting task to retell a story about faith in a increasingly secular industry, and the way Aronofsky goes about that is very interesting.

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