May 29, 2016

WIWTW #48 (XL Edition)

Apologies for not having a WIWTW last week, but I was away on a much needed week-long vacation. I recharged my batteries, ate a lot of unhealthy food and got sunburnt so you could say that I had a great time.

I was way out of Montreal (5 hour drive or so) and I had no internet and no TV even. It's a refreshing state of affairs honestly. I did manage to watch the odd movie on my laptop if I wasn't feeling too exhausted from all the hiking of the day though. So fear not, I do have some recaps to share.

Anyway, so this week's WIWTW covers two weeks worth of movies even if you'd think it only looks like a typical week for me. We'll be back to how things usually are next week.

Now on to this week's WIWTW.

But first...
 

Some News (That I Actually Care About)

  • Sam Mendes officially announced his departure from the James Bond franchise, even if we all knew. @A.V. Club
  • Box office report: In a rare head-to-head match up between two blockbusters opening on the same weekend, X-Men: Apocalypse came out victorious as Alice Through the Looking Glass took a tumble. Fox should be happy with the $65 million that X-Men made, but the reality is that it's a pretty significant reduction from the $110.5 million that X-Men: Days of Future Past made in its opening weekend. It'll be interesting to see the legs that this most recent Bryan Singer superhero movie has, but the international gross should help things quite a bit. Disney has had nothing but non-stop success for some time, so a misstep was inevitable. With only $28.1 million on a $170 million budget, it's not looking pretty for Alice. Just like X-Men though, the international box office is going to help immensely, but at this point it'll just be to staunch the bleeding. The Angry Birds took third place with $18.7 million and Captain America: Civil War added $15.1 million to its coffers for a fourth place finish.
  • Is the X-Men franchise just a little too bloated and impossible to follow at this point? Here's a call to reboot the whole thing. @The Hollywood Reporter
  • Fox is delaying the final installment of The Maze Runner a little under a year to January 12th 2018 as opposed to February 17th, 2017 as a result of Dylan O’Brien's injuries. Poor kid, hope he'll be alright. @Entertainment Weekly
  • It's rare to see studio heads actually come out with the truth about their terrible movies, but that's what Lionsgate's Jon Feltheimer has done. Let's be honest, it's pretty much an apology to make people come out for the final movie due next summer. @HitFix
Video of the week: I seriously need to see this movie one day.

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Number of movies watched: 9

Average rating: 5.50
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May 15th

 

Tape (2001): Best Movie of the Week Award

Rating: 7.5/10

What is it: A Richard Linklater drama set in a motel room

There's something very compelling about movies set in a single location and that's what Tape is. Two characters reunite after a couple of years since the last time they saw each other and things escalate from there (all in real-time). Linklater makes everything fit together very nicely and the three actors put on quite a show while keeping everything natural and grounded. Ethan Hawke is probably the most noticeable of the bunch, but I have to say I really enjoyed Uma Thurman the most as she really leaves her mark despite only being there for maybe half the film. The story takes some very interesting twists and is way more intense that I expected it to be, enough to leave me almost breathless by the end.

May 16th

 

VeggieTales: Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Noah's Umbrella (2009): Worst Movie of the Week Award

Rating: 3/10

What is it: The second VeggieTales ripoff of Indiana Jones

The first Minesota Cuke movie was OK by VeggieTales standards. I mean I gave it a 4 which is among the higher scores I've given to a VT movie. Unsurprisingly, Big Idea has found a way to make Noah's Umbrella even worse. It borrows mostly from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and it makes you wish that it didn't. The one-liners are pitiful and I don't know who came up with the idea of giving the villain a Tweety Bird speech impediment, but they should not be working on children's entertainment again. The same could be said about the rest of the team responsible for all the poorly written songs and the late 90's era animation.

May 17th

 

She's All That (1999)

Rating: 5.5/10

What is it: A teen romantic comedy based off of George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion.

Watching the opening credits roll, I couldn't believe all the big names that She's All That had. Besides Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachel Leigh Cook, we got Matthew Lillard (who's a bit irritating here to be frank), Paul Walker, Anna Paquin, Kieran Culkin, Usher, Lil' Kim, Gabrielle Union, Clea DuVall and Chris Owen. OK, maybe they're not all A-listers, but that's a pretty big pack of recognizable names. Anyway, She's All That is extremely formulaic, but is that surprising? What's surprising is how much I actually liked Freddie Prinze Jr. here. Sure his character is cardboard, but he's likeable and so is Rachel Leigh Cook. She's All That isn't going to wow most people, but the two leads make it a perfectly acceptable time waster.

May 18th

 

One in the Chamber (2012):

Rating: 4/10

What is it: Generic-looking direct-to-video action thriller #48539

I admit, One in the Chamber is pretty dumb and it looks pretty dumb. It's also still really weird to accept that Cuba Gooding Jr. does this kind of movie now. He certainly doesn't make this movie any better, but I guess it's a positive that he doesn't make it worse either. On the other hand, Dolph Lundgren really does put his best foot forward and he's great. While his performance isn't going to win him awards, he's a blast to watch and he's funny to boot. The action itself is poorly shot (complete with lots of shaky cam and wonky editing) and the villains are generic to a T, but Lundgren alone really does this a fun B-movie. Sure it's cheesy and predictable, but it is what it is.

May 19th

 

U Want Me 2 Kill Him? (2013)

Rating: 5/10

What is it: A UK drama/thriller about teens and instant messaging

Set in 2003, the very edgily titled U Want Me 2 Kill Him? is apparently based on a true story about high school students and the dangers of instant messaging. Having people talk over the internet (or over text message on phones) is always a bit difficult to represent convincingly in movies I find and UWM2KH? doesn't really change that. The scenes of characters messaging each other lack realism, despite the actors' best efforts. Jamie Blackley is however pretty enjoyable as the lead I guess, but the character he plays seems to be lacking in the brains department because it's quite obvious what's going on before it all unfolds. The more UWM2KH? progresses, the more ridiculous it feels.

May 22nd

 

Nothing to Lose (1997)

Rating: 5.5/10

What is it: A buddy film that puts an advertiser and a street criminal together

Nothing to Lose is pretty much like any buddy cop film you've ever seen, except that the two buddies aren't cops. There's Nick Beam (Tim Robbins) who's a depressed advertiser and there's Terrance or "T" (Martin Lawrence) who's a street smart criminal. There's nothing all that original or unique about it, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least mildly entertained. A lot of has to do with Martin Lawrence who puts on perhaps the best performance I've ever seen out of him. He's honestly hilarious and Nothing to Lose owes a lot to him. Robbins on the other hand could've been played by anybody. John C. McGinley has a pretty good turn as a rival criminal however.

May 26th

 

U.S. Marshals (1998)

Rating: 6/10

What is it: Sequel to the mighty thriller The Fugitive minus Harrison Ford

It wouldn't really make sense to have Harrison Ford at the center of another manhunt now would it? But anyway, Tommy Lee Jones is back and he's got another major case involving Mark J. Sheridan (Wesley Snipes) who escapes from a prisoner airplane after a crash landing. Robert Downey Jr. is also involved as a fellow agent to Samuel Gerard (Jones). The end result is nowhere near as thrilling as the original and I mean nowhere near. It's competent enough though, although it does feel a bit bloated at over 2 hours long. Having Gerard back with all the intense glares and tough one-liners make this enjoyable enough though, as does Wesley Snipes in of the the most hilarious get ups I've ever seen.

May 27th

 

DC Showcase: Jonah Hex (2010)

Rating: 6.5/10

What is it: An animated DC short showcasing its Western character Jonah Hex

I've already seen the train wreck that is Jonah Hex so I had a bit of an idea of what to expect in this short film. I also expected it to not be completely horrible. It's a "smaller" kind of story, one involving only a few characters and no "save the world" kind of narrative. While playing around with several Western tropes, this short has a very pleasing story and I came away impressed. There's some very solid voice acting as well. My big beef? The animation which comes off as very choppy and lacking in depth. Besides that, you're better off watching this 13 minute short than the a-little-under-90-minutes feature that seems to have a lot in common with a corpse.

May 28th

 

Woman in Gold (2015)

Rating: 6.5/10

What is it: Based on the true story of Maria Altmann trying to reclaim a family painting

The reception for Woman in Gold isn't all that positive and I can see why. Besides a script that rewrites history a little too much, Simon Curtis tugs at the heart strings a little too hard for my liking and a little too often. While there is indeed a strong emotional payoff, the script is littered with all these other mini emotional payoffs that are overindulgent and reduce the effectiveness of the scenes that truly work. I enjoyed Helen Mirren's performance, but Ryan Reynolds seems miscasted the more the film goes on. Full of flashbacks to the past, I in fact enjoyed these scenes more than the modern day scenes. The strength of those scenes in the past are why I'm giving this one a positive score.