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Double Review: Interstellar and Big Hero 6

posters for Interstellar and Big Hero 6

Last week was a big one: both Interstellar and Big Hero 6 on the same day. This week: not so much. I was on vacation last week but have since seen both movies and found them worthy of talking about, so… double review time!

Interstellar
In a last-ditch attempt to escape a dying earth, an ex shuttle pilot leads a mission through a wormhole to find a suitable colony world.

Big Hero 6
A teenage robotics genius teams up with his dead brother’s friends and a health care robot to bring down the villain who ruined his life.

You really can’t go wrong with either as long as you’re in the target audience. Those who don’t like science might be bored by three whole hours of Interstellar‘s space rambling while grown-ups who don’t retain much of their inner child might find the bombastic action of Big Hero 6 silly and forgettable.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Review

poster from the Marvel Studios film Guardians of the Galaxy

I don’t read many superhero comic books, so before they started brewing up this movie, I’d never heard of Guardians of the Galaxy. I do watch science fiction films though, so even if this hadn’t been a Marvel movie I’d still have gone on opening night. Because spaceships! Handsome smugglers! Gun-toting raccoons!

A thief, an assassin, a revenge-obsessed father, a genetically modified raccoon, and a huge talking plant join forces to keep a world-ending weapon out of the hands of terrorists.

Guardians of the Galaxy is similar to The Avengers in that it involves a bunch of smartasses with diverse skills reluctantly teaming up to stop evildoers. The big difference for me was that while The Avengers was almost all infighting, actual plot actually happens in Guardians of the Galaxy, which makes it the better movie.

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X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

poster from the Twentieth Century Fox film X-Men Days of Future Past

Of all the superhero movies, the X-Men are my favorite. Except, of course, for X-Men 3 – an atrocity we fans avoid speaking of like it’s the movie equivalent of Voldemort. X-Men: First Class was one of my favorite movies ever. I was looking forward to Days of Future Past, not just because it’s the sequel, but because it promised to erase X-Men 3 from history.

Wolverine is sent back to 1973 to stop an assassination that will lead to an apocalyptic future full of invincible mutant-hunting super-robots.

I had some slight worries regarding time travel rules and the huge cast of mutants, but I’m happy to report that they were groundless. Though there were some themes that were repeated from other movies, everything else was great. I’ll buy the DVD for sure.

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Trailer Reviews for May 23, 2014

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST



This movie looks incredibly ambitious. It has a huge cast that’s been doubled on account of everyone having a past and a future self. I worry that since time travel is so tricky, they’ll break their own rules. And even if they don’t, won’t it seem really rushed and chaotic as they try to squeeze everybody in? However, I love the first two X-Men movies and First Class was amazing. If this movie does as promised and wipes out the atrocity that was X-Men 3, I will be a very happy person.

BLENDED



This is a TERRIBLE movie. Not only is it horrifically unfunny, it also sends the message that single women are soft carpets who can’t raise boys not to burn their damn house down, that girls raised by single men are all involuntary tomboys, and that people with kids are too dumb to go on a date without spitting in each others’ faces. I like the idea of a movie about a blended family coming together, but this movie is light years dumber than Yours, Mine and Ours.

THE LOVE PUNCH



I don’t understand why this movie is called The Love Punch but it looks MUCH funnier than Blended. I love Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan and the whole ‘adventures of hilarious older people’ genre. If I was going to a romantic comedy this weekend, I would pick this one. But I’m not, because X-MEN!!!!

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Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review

poster from the Sony Pictures film Amazing Spider-man 2

Spider-man and I have a weird relationship. I’ve read some of the comics, watched the cartoon, and I even own two of the movies. I think Spider-man is cool… as long as he doesn’t open his mouth. When he starts wisecracking I mostly just want to slap him. This latest incarnation is the mouthiest of all, but I keep going to see the movies anyway.


Spider-man struggles with his girlfriend’s decision to move away and his old friend’s need for his blood as a new electricity-based supervillain threatens the city.

There’s so much going on in Amazing Spider-man 2 (not all of it necessarily relevant) that it’s hard to boil it down to a coherent logline. Despite the logjam of subplots it all seems to work together somehow, so in the end the movie is about as good as a Spider-man movie could be.

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Trailers for May 2, 2014

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2



Spider-Man has never been one of my favorite superheros. Most of the time I feel like angsty teenage Peter Parker and his smarmy alter ego need a good hard smack upside the head. And I really don’t feel like they needed to remake all these movies again as a 3D special effects bonanza just so Sony doesn’t have to give the rights back to Marvel. However, even if I didn’t have a blog to write, I’d still be going to this movie, since my friend is a huge (and I mean HUGE) Spider-man nerd, and the Wolf Pack rolls together, yo.

JOE



While I like the idea of an ex-con rescuing a boy’s family from an abusive dad, this movie doesn’t grab me. Maybe it’s just because I don’t like Nicholas Cage, but I would want a story like that to be more uplifting and less mired in revenge and violence.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

poster from the Marvel Studios film Captain America Winter Soldier

Marvel has effectively put us on a money treadmill. All of their movies (and now the TV show) interlock, so if you miss one, you miss the clues that lead in to the next one. The best part for Marvel is that no one wants to get off the treadmill. Not even me, and I’m the one cynically pointing out that we’re running in place. The latest mile we’re paying for is Captain America: Winter Soldier.

A patriotic superhero from the 1940s struggles to adjust to modern anti-terror tactics while facing off against an enemy from his past.

I was really looking forward to the Winter Soldier aspect of this movie, so when I watched it and discovered that a more accurate title would have been Captain America and a Bunch of Crap About SHIELD, I was disappointed. If you’re dying to see more Nick Fury, maybe you’ll like it better than I did.

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Trailer Reviews for April 4, 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER



I can’t decide if the Winter Soldier’s identity is supposed to be a secret. Black Widow is talking like the guy’s a big mystery, but you can see his face a couple of times in the trailer. Even if you don’t already know the answer from reading comics, you’ll recognize him from the other movies. It doesn’t really matter, I suppose. I’ll still see it. I like Cap better in his own movies than in the Avengers, because he gets to be funny instead of herding cats around all the time. Also, that winged jet pack is awesome. If I was the Cap, I’d be like: where’s MY winged jet pack?!

CAS AND DYLAN



Let me guess – she has such a meaningful, heartwarming adventure with the dying guy that once he dies she writes a meaningful heartwarming book that gets published super easily, the end. I feel like I’ve seen all this before.

AFFLICTED



Okay, I applaud them for finding a different excuse for their characters to be filming every weird and horrible thing that happens to them, but it doesn’t make sense. Who is editing and uploading the footage to their blog once they’re dead or full of rabies or whatever? And whose first instinct when their buddy comes down with rabies is to grab the camera and take it with them to the hospital? Though illogical, the rabid hulk/spiderman chest camera shots are pretty cool.

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DVDs for March 4, 2014

catching fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Between accidental revolution/totalitarian government mind-f**ckery and harrowing teenage death-match game show action, Catching Fire was the third best movie of 2013… not that the Academy agrees with me, but when do they ever? I would also rate this movie better than the first Hunger Games, simply because they did away with the shaky-cam and gave Gale (the non-annoying point on the love triangle) more screen time. Read my full review for more or just go ahead and watch it right now.

Buy Catching Fire on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

12 years a slave

12 Years a Slave

Films that win best picture Oscars (like 12 Years a Slave just did) are almost always depressing. Frequently they’re boring and/or pretentious too, at least from the viewpoint of normal people. Thankfully 12 Years a Slave is actually good. It’s a true story based on the life of a free-born African American man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the 1840s. As the title suggests, the poor guy spends the next 12 years trying to get back to his family. The subject matter is depressing, but at least it has a relatively happy ending. Check it out.

Buy 12 Years a Slave on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

hours

Hours

Not to be confused with The Hours (a 2002 film about women and suicide), Hours is the story of a distraught father who has just lost his wife and is abandoned at a New Orleans hospital to keep his premature daughter alive on manual life support during Hurricane Katrina. It’s not based on a true story and it’s not particularly well written or made (about average for a B movie), but it is one of the last films Paul Walker had a chance to do before his accident, so if you’re a fan you’ll want to put it on your list.

Buy Hours on DVD.

girl rising

Girl Rising

I was having trouble finding another movie worth talking about on the release list for this week until I came across Girl Rising. It’s a documentary made to support the cause of making sure girls and women in developing countries are safe, educated, and able to direct their own futures. My Girl Guides and I learned about the Girl Effect (giving aid money to women/girls as a way of making sure it actually helps communities) a few years ago and I can tell you that the stories these girls have to tell are very compelling. So check out this movie.

Buy Girl Rising on DVD.

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DVDs for February 25, 2014

Whoops! It seems I accidentally did the DVDs for this week on February 4… which makes me wonder what actually DID come out February 4? Anyway here are those releases again, and this time it’s not a lie!

gravity

Gravity

The #2 best movie of 2013 (according to me) is now available to own! If you’ve seen it, you’re probably already pre-ordered your copy. If you haven’t see it – buy one now. It’s the thrillingest thriller I’ve seen in… possibly ever. Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut with a tragic past who struggles to stay alive in space after her shuttle is destroyed by debris. There are some science problems if you think about it too hard, but that doesn’t matter, because the rest of it is so awesome. Read my full review for more.

Buy Gravity on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

thor 2

Thor: The Dark World

Coincidentally, the #4 best movie of 2013 (according to me) is also available to own today. Thor himself may not be my favorite superhero (or even my favorite Avenger) but his movies are full of fun, action, witty jokes, and science. Fun science, not real science. In this one, Thor teams up with his (girl)fan-favorite brother Loki and portal-hop-battles an evil elf who wants to take over the universe with dark matter. Awesome! You can read my review for more or just go buy it already.

Buy Thor: The Dark World on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

nebraska

Nebraska

The quote on the DVD box, from the LA Times reviewer, says: “one of those movies I’ll watch for the rest of my life.” “Because it seems like it goes on forever,” my brain finished for him. This is one of those movies you either love or hate. If you’re into indie art house American slice-of-life drama, then you’ll think it’s the bees knees. If, however, you don’t, the prospect of a crotchety geezer trekking across a dreary black and white landscape to collect a scam lottery prize, occasionally stopping to argue with other local caricatures, will probably seem boring and pretentious.

Buy Nebraska on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

twice born

Twice Born

In Twice Born, Penelope Cruz plays a single mother who takes her teenaged son to Sarajevo so she can tell him all about his dad (Emile Hirsch), who died in the Bosnian war. Normally I’m all for depressing stories about Bosnia. I liked The Whistleblower, Welcome to Saeajevo, and Savior. But I think they would have done better to focus the depressingness on the conflict and the people caught up in it rather than trying to shoehorn in the same adultery/betrayal/marriage on the rocks drama that we’ve seen a million times. I recommend one of the other three movies I mentioned instead.

Buy Twice Born on DVD.

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