MoviePass Reviews 2015 (T2)
These are my MoviePass Reviews for the second trimester of the year. It was supposed to be by the quarter, but time keeps on slippin’. I’m currently at 57 films seen out of my #100MoviesIn2015. Tonight, I’ll see Hitchcock's classic Psycho, then Black Mass the day after. I still need to see 42 films more films over the next 13 weeks if I want to hit my goal. That’s almost 4 movies a week. Yikes! Luckily, I have MoviePass—hence, these MoviePass Reviews. What is that you ask?
MoviePass is a card that allows you to see unlimited films for \$30/month — (http://movi.ps/referral). I love it. As you can tell, I’ve seen loads of movies this year. You can read the first trimester of MoviePass reviews here. I originally started my free two week trial on January 15, 2015. There are other reviews of the service, but I can honestly tell you that it’s the best entertainment decision I’ve made since buying a projector six years ago.
How to Optimize MoviePass
A lot of MoviePass reviews complain that it’s advertised as “unlimited movies” in theaters when it’s only one movie a day. This is a non-issue for me. I usually see about 2-3 movies on a good week. Most of the time I only see one movie on a day, but I just optimize my MoviePass if I don’t have weekend plans. The cool thing about MoviePass is that you can buy tickets in advance. My solution to seeing more than one movie in a day is buying an advanced ticket. I’ll show up on a Wednesday and buy a ticket for Saturday. This means that I can see a movie with that ticket and also check in for another movie if I decide to see something else. The great thing about movie theater folks is they are super nice. I buy advance tickets all of the time. Many times I miss the showings. If that happens, show up with your unused advance ticket. They’ll either give you a re-admit pass or you can use it to get another ticket for a different movie. Voila. So simple. There’s actually a bunch of optimizations. I can write a post on how to use MoviePass for free if enough people comment and ask for it. I’ve been thinking of other MoviePass reviews I can write other than just the films. Maybe the theaters? After tonight, I will have earned back \$165 and 70 concession upgrades from AMC theaters alone. I’ve seen over \$700 worth of movies this year for just under \$75. If you’d like to sign up, do so here: http://movi.ps/referral.
When Not to Sign Up for MoviePass
I have a friend. I’m not going to say his name, but he’s on Twitter \@cjpendergraft. You should follow him. He signed up for MoviePass in February and canceled it in May after seeing less than 5 movies. He just wasn’t going to the theater. From June until now, he’s seen more than 10 movies. He says he’s going to sign up again in October. He’s a lil fatheroo. Do not sign up for MoviePass if you aren’t going to theaters. A good way to engage is to start a scrapbook of movie tickets or write short MoviePass reviews. Make a habit of it all.
29 Micro MoviePass Reviews
Dope – 9.5
The only reason this movie doesn’t have a ten is because I think there needs to be some time before something is labeled perfection. This film accomplished everything it set out to. It was a hilarious comedy and the drama was compelling and genuine. Perhaps what really makes this movie so good are its arguments. Malcolm (Shameik Moore)’s final turn and speech on the “slippery slope” was a great moment, but his college essay illustrating what he learned and how that reflects our culture was amazing. The hood was a nice touch of visual rhetoric. The outlandish moments of comedy were handled well. The sophisticated comedic sequences helped balance those moments out. I think Dom (A\$AP Rocky) was a little under-utilized, but he was great in the scenes he was in. The soundtrack was amazing. I saw it three times in theaters. Rick Famuyiwa has made his masterpiece, despite what one of the horrid reviewers desecrating Ebert's name had to say. This movie is nothing short of dope.
Jurassic World – 8
Let’s be honest. A Jurassic Park movie is only as good as its raptors. Luckily, Blue and his team didn’t disappoint. We expect wondrous dinosaurs, thrilling chases, suspenseful hiding, and a huge battle at the end. I can honestly say that Jurassic World provided the best of all of these. The only thing that would’ve made it better is if the children were more than props and if the “love story” was meatier. I can’t complain, though. In place of that, it was also able to work in a level of social commentary which I’m sure was unsettling to some. Who goes to see a dinosaur movie and expects to consider how imperialism, capitalism, and white supremacy have poisoned our culture? Let’s just say, I know why Indominous Rex was white. I didn’t walk to see this movie a second time in theaters. I had to “RUN!”
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – 7.5
On first viewing, I enjoyed this film, but not as much as I did the second time. Honestly, I was a little bothered by the depictions of Earl as this magical negro who liked to say "titties." And of how I wanted to know more of the dying girl's background. I realized I should probably read the book. I liked how the story of the film never got in the way of itself. The direction was interesting, the cutaways to the animated sequences were well-placed and added a unique charm. Their homage films were great. Rachel (Olivia Cooke) and Greg (Thomas Mann) were the focus of the central relationship throughout the story, but it was Earl (RJ Cyler) who stole the film and held the true emotional core/understanding. I liked the unreliable narrator aspect of it all. It did a good job operating within the young-adult-cancer-romances conventions, but could've worked against them a bit more. Nick Offerman, Greg’s dad in the film, was good, as was Molly Shannon. I wanted to know what happened to Earl, but it was Greg's story, so meh. Would've been better as an ensemble, but was still a touching and funny story.
Batman v. Robin – 7.5
Teckevinally, I saw this at Wondercon and not with MoviePass, but it was in a theater and I’m going for #100MoviesIn2015. I didn’t like Son of Batman. It felt really forced. The direction left a little to be desired. This film, though, may be one of the best in the DCAU, and that says a lot. The action sequences are stellar and well-placed throughout. The story’s theme centered on the relationship of trust between Bruce and Damien works well. Not to mention, the group that shows up. Yes. Batman Versus Robin is the best DCAU feature since Under the Red Hood, but not quite as good as The Dark Knight Returns. Because, let’s be honest. When you successfully adapt that story, it’s hard to top.
Dragonball Z: Resurrection of F – 7.5
Yes. Yes. Yes. Toriyama-san is back! Great blend of action and comedy. The theme of the conflict between Goku and Vegeta pushed even further than it was in the series. Frieza’s return was wonderful. The fight scenes—wowsers! Wait, I just realized, is this available to stream yet? I might go watch it again right now.
Straight Outta Compton – 7
This movie started out super intense. The actors were all pretty good, but Ice Cube Jr. killed it. It has a nice wedding of theme and action. The problem happened about two-thirds of the way through this unnecessarily long movie. It stopped telling a story and became fan-fiction. There was no need for Tupac to be in this movie. Snoop, maybe, but he wasn’t even utilized. It was great how they all hugged in the end. I’ll definitely re-watch the first half of this movie again. If nothing else is going on, I’ll play the other half while typing up blogs. F. Gary Gray’s directions was great, tho.
Ant-Man – 7
It was fun, funny, and kinda funky. This is probably the best “first” superhero movie since Iron Man and Batman Begins. Hopefully it doesn’t go the route of Stark because the second and third films in that series were terrible. The characters were all great in this film. The action was decently paced. The fight scenes were phenomenal and funny. I can’t wait for the Wasp to join.
The Visit – 7
I have a weird relationship with this movie. I watched the trailer for it and thought it was going to be M. Night’s comeback. I thought it would be brilliant. Then I saw that it was a Blum House production and lost all faith. Watching it, I was uncomfortable. Not because of the naked grandma, she actually had a nice butt. Not because of horror-comedy, truth be told it’s one of my favorite genres when done well. Not because of the well-done framing and camera movement which was a perfect balance between “teenage handheld” and directed camera operator. I was uncomfortable because everyone was laughing so hard at the little rapping white boy. This broken non-corporeal representation of what Shyamalan and popular culture see as Blackness distilled into this cooning white kid wearing invisible blackface. Maybe I could’ve shrugged it off if his sister hadn’t called him “etkevinally-confused” or if it was played in a context other than a minstrel show. There were boycotts of Get Hard, but the theatrical version of that film actually treated its characters with care. It was aware it was being insensitive and tried to hit broadly, then complicate the characters by implicating the system in which the characters were in. The character of Tyler, who raps and adds “ho” to the end of every verse was created out of ignorance. Back to the film: I didn’t expect it to end how it did—SPOILER FOLLOWS. IF YOU CONTINUE TO READ, YOU WILL KNOW HOW IT ENDS. YOU SHOULD SKIP TO THE NEXT REVIEW IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN IT—It could’ve been interesting if the grandparents succeeded in killing the kids or somehow got away. It would’ve made for an interesting The Visit 2 with the “grandparents” doing it again with another set of kids somehow, but the audience knowing it wasn’t them the entire time. He only would’ve needed another reason for the kids not to have known the grandparents. But that could’ve been an interesting tension in the movie. The kids could’ve suspected it, and it would’ve been loaded with dramatic irony.
Spy – 7
I was expecting this movie to be terrible. I had already planned on walking out, falling asleep, or sneaking into another movie if it was too ridiculous and broad. This is probably the best film that isn’t St. Vincent that Melissa McCarthy has been in. The writing for Jason Statham’s character may have been over the top at times, but everyone had a great chemistry. The story was competently written and legitimately funny. Rose Byrne was definitely a standout.
Mad Max: Fury Road – 7
The truth is I’m actually torn on whether I’d watch this again, but I’m leaning toward “yes.” It was a wild chase movie. It was wholly entertaining the first time through. It had a strong cast. I just don’t know if it mattered or was suspenseful enough that I’d enjoy it a second time. I think I’ll watch it again out of curiosity, but not desire.
Ricki and the Flash – 6.5
Diablo Cody likes to start with unlikable characters and use the script’s major dramatic question to argue for how that character is a decent human being. That's one of the reasons I like her scripts. She's also witty and isn't afraid to take it "there." This film just felt safe. Meryl Streep was great, of course. It was just surprisingly quiet. I did love the mother-daughter relationship and the mother-stepmother tension, though.
Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation – 6.5
The first half of this movie was so boring. It was all setup. The payoffs weren’t even that good. The twists were fairly expected. The second half was thrilling. It was fast-paced, the villainy was nice. And the ending? Enjoyable.
Cinderella – 6
This was a mildly entertaining live-action retelling of the classic fairy tale. When adapting a much-adapted piece, the best films try something bold and new or add an interesting twist. This adaptation did not. It was sufficient. Cate Blanchett was a rotten stepmother, not quite evil enough for me, though. And the writing didn’t allow enough room for motivation, but Lilly James was really charming. The best moment in the entire movie was, “I forgive you.” That was a nice touch.
Pitch Perfect 2 – 6
I never saw the first Pitch Perfect. Honestly, I didn’t even see every minute of this one. It was funny. Friendship, yay! Competition, yay! I was surprised at the politically incorrect tone of the humor, but it was refreshing. This genre is usually stale. Nice to see this decent example.
Paper Towns – 6
Such a promising story! Such a great lesson. The characters were also fairly well-developed … but … the ending. It ran out of steam near the third act. I’m sorry, John Greene, but Jesse Andrews wins this summer.
Inside Out – 5.5
I remember very little about this movie. The external world of Riley was much more interesting than the world in her head. It seemed more like an exploration of how the brain works for kids instead of an entertaining story for kids. Good concept, boring execution. It was shiny, though.
Trainwreck – 5
I love Amy Schumer. She just doesn’t know how to write long-form stories yet. The story was very generic, but the bit jokes were funny. It had its moments, but this was just a less-than-generic rom-com with a gender swap. Schumer’s name did a lot to promote this movie. It has prompted me to re-watch older Apatow movies because I thought he was a better director than this. The scene which was supposed to be homage to Woody Allen’s Manhattan was ridiculously sloppy. It made me aware of how poorly shot the whole film was. I wonder if his writing hid the bad direction or if he’s just incompetent with someone else’s work.
Ted 2 - 5
The jokes were really funny in this movie. The story was absurd and barely existed. The difference between this and say Trainwreck is there was no real intention to tell a story. There was a bit so funny in this movie that I missed half of the next scene because everyone in the theater was laughing too hard.
Vacation – 5
Most people hate this movie. It’s actually not that bad. The problem is that it’s made in the style of a ridiculous 80’s American farce. They aren’t particularly good. Neither is this movie, but if you watch it on its own terms it has some funny moments. Those moments are mostly when there’s a little dramatic irony. The vomiting was dumb. The language was cringe-worthy and useless sometimes. We never care about the characters. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo weren’t really utilized for comedy. That wingman hut tub scene, though, ha! If you do like it, you'd probably like We're the Millers (2013). It also features Ed Sudeikis, but is funnier American farce.
Avengers: Age of Ultron – 5
I’m not sure what I could say that hasn’t already been said about this movie. It would’ve been better if it was thirty minutes shorter, there wasn’t an out of place “love story,” and it had a better villain. Ultron wasn’t a powerful villain. Each of his sentinels were easily dispatched. They weren’t a real threat. Do you know who would’ve been a real threat to the Avengers and force them to change the way they fight? The Vision. He was wasted. He should’ve been under the thrall of Ultron as Queen of the big bad and maneuvered against the Avengers until the second to last sequence. Ah well. We got to see Hulk vs. Hulkbuster Iron Man.
San Andreas – 5
Things blew up and fell apart. Dwayne Johnson saved folks. There was a story. The character motivations, everything really, felt expected. I did enjoy it while it was on. That girl's stepdad was a jerk, haha.
Welcome to Me – 4.5
This could’ve been good. Kristen Wiig was great. The premise was interesting. It just meandered on screen. It is a completely forgettable film.
Hot Pursuit – 4
It was simple, basic, and barely entertaining. But Sofía Vergara was lovely, Reese Witherspoon was adorable, and they have great chemistry. It would have been better if they only had a script with fewer clichés and interesting plotting.
True Story – 3.5
There was a lot of sitting together and uninteresting discussion in this movie. If I was at this movie alone, I would’ve walked out.
Fantastic Four – 3
There was very little conflict in this movie until the third act when an all-powerful Doctor Doom started exploding the heads of everyone he encountered and then tried to blow up the world. The normal chemistry between Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller was absent. Kate Mara was competent and cute. There wasn’t enough written for Jamie Bell. This script failed because it began as a small coming of age story at the beginning with a theme that revolved around friendship (yay, Chronicle), but it ended as a generic superhero movie circa 1999.
Age of Adaline – 3
Another example of what happens when you don’t have any conflict in a story until the third act. It was super melodramatic and ultimately pointless. I’m sure it works better as a book because it allows more interiority. As a film, meh. The reveal in the third act would’ve been better revealed closer to the midpoint and explored through the rest of the movie.
The Gift – 2
Wow. I like revenge stories. I really like suspenseful thrillers and mysteries. It’s too bad that this had no suspense, wasn’t at all thrilling, and the only two mysteries weren’t teased well. I liked Edgerton’s earlier film with his brother, The Square. He was also good as Tom in The Great Gatsby. This movie was sloppy. It might’ve been played better as a comedy with unreliable characters. It was melodramatic and boring. Nice reveal at the end, though. I guess that’s why others like it so much.
Tomorrowland – 1.5
Directionless. Pointless. The character motivations were so constructed and phony. The visuals were only mildly interesting. George Clooney’s charm was even muted. Raffey Cassidy did well. I have a feeling this script was more Lindelof than Brad Bird.
Aloha – *
I don’t think it would be fair for me to rate this movie. The first two sequences were so bad that I walked out of the theater. I had very little idea of what the direction of the movie was going to be or why I should care about any of the random gibberish spewing from the characters’ mouths. I bet that’s why it didn’t do well. I really like Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone. I wish they were in a better movie together.
1-3: Horrible. I regret subjecting myself to this
4-5: Just below average, but not a complete waste of time
6: I didn’t waste my time, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it again
7-8: Accomplished what it set out to do and I’d watch it again
9-10: Nearly perfect. Highly recommend it as art
MoviePass Reviews 2015 Second Trimester Conclusion
I’m excited because the award season is coming along with the San Diego film festival. I really want an opportunity to see Tangerine. I think it’ll be really good. One of the things I may do is a list of Top 10 Upcoming Films and predicted MoviePass Reviews. I’ll also review the app soon, but only if you comment and share your thoughts. Thank you for reading. What have been your favorite movies this year so far?