Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Age of Adaline

I can't even begin to tell you the number of times I've seen the trailer for this over the last six months or so. Finally I was like, Dammit okay! I'll go see this. I was in the mood for a romance movie anyway. And as far as these types of movies go, this was actually pretty good.

The Age of Adaline tells the story of Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively)- a young widowed mother who, after a car accident, is rendered ageless. She spends the next several decades changing identities, moving every so many years, and never getting too close to anyone out of fear they'll discover her secret. The only one who knows is her daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn). At a New Year's Eve party in the present day, she meets Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) and they eventually fall in love. But a weekend at his parent's house threatens to uncover the truth.

The movie tries to explain Adaline's condition with some scientific talk which is such bullshit. There's nothing wrong with a simple fantasy if done right.

Blake Lively gives her best performance so far. It's hard to portray someone who physically looks to be in her late 20's but mentally is over 100 years old. But she really pulls it off. Everything from the way she carries herself to the way she talks is very convincing. I absolutely loved her scenes with Ellen Burstyn. I wish the director had spent a little more time on this interesting relationship between a mother and daughter.

I also liked Michiel Huisman (whom I'm already a fan of since he's on Game of Thrones) in this. He's charming in his own way. Some of his dialog isn't great, but it never felt too cheesy.

The great Harrison Ford plays Ellis's father William. His role is kind of small but VERY important. I can't say too much without spoiling it, but his performance was very touching.

My one big complaint is the use of narration. It was completely unnecessary! There are moments where they literally describe everything going on in the scene. I could see it for myself and didn't need it spelled out for me. When will these directors learn that showing is better than telling?

The Age of Adaline is certainly one of the better romance movies I've seen in a long time. Is it sappy? Absolutely. But I still enjoyed watching it and I think you will too.

My Rating: 8/10

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Child 44

Lets be honest- there really isn't much being released in the next few weeks while we all wait for Age of Ultron. So I figured I'd check this movie out. It hasn't been advertised all that much. Hell, the only reason I knew about it was because I am a huge Tom Hardy fan. And once again, he gives a brilliant performance. As far as the movie itself, I kind of have mixed feelings about it.

Child 44 is based on a book written by Tom Rob Smith. It's set in the Stalin era of the Soviet Union and tells the story of Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy)- a disgraced member of the military police force who, along with his wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace) begin investigating a series of child murders. Of course, there's more to this story than it seems.

I found the first half of the movie to be extremely boring. It moved at such a slow pace that I could feel myself nodding off at times. Of course, this could also have been due to the fact that I hadn't slept much in the past few days.

The movie was also very dark. Not only in terms of the tine, but the lighting as well. For example, there was this fight scene where I couldn't tell who was who or what was going on half the time. I get what the director was trying to do but damn.

Also, whoever they hired to edit this should never work in the film industry again. The way it moved from one scene to the next (mainly in the first half) was so poorly done. Once scene in particular that stood out to me was a love scene where the camera is moving up and there I was all excited thinking I'm about to see Tom Hardy's ass in all it's glory. But then it quickly cuts away to something else. I wanted to scream, Fuck!!!! Why are they doing this to me? It made me so frustrated! I'm taking half a point off my rating just for this alone. Inexcusable.

I've talked a lot about what I didn't like, but once it got to the second half and Leo and Raisa really begin investigating and trying to find this serial killer, it became this really good, intense, on the edge of your seat thriller.

I also loved Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace's powerful performances. The two of them work so well together and have such amazing chemistry. It was interesting to see their relationship develop from the beginning of the movie to what it is at the end. In the middle of all this bleakness is a very touching love story.

Child 44 is not for everyone. Probably the only people who will see it are fans of historical thrillers or of any of the actors in here. But if you can get past the first half, it's worth checking out.

My Rating: 7/10

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Longest Ride

I had never planned on seeing this movie in theaters. If you've seen one Nicholas Sparks movie, you've pretty much seen them all. I've said it before and I'll say it again- there hasn't been a decent Nicholas Sparks movie since The Notebook. But I figured I'd give this a chance since I've already seen most of the movies that are out right now. To my surprise, I actually liked The Longest Ride. Was it as amazing as The Notebook? Absolutely not. But it was still pretty good.

The Longest Ride tells the story of Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson), a college student about to embark on her dream job at an art gallery in New York. She meets Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood), a champion bull rider trying to make a comeback. Even though they come from two completely different worlds, they of course fall in love. One night as they're driving home from a date, they stop and help an elderly man named Ira Levinson (Alan Alda) who has just been in a car accident. Through a series of letters he had written to his beloved wife Ruth, we learn the incredible, sometimes heartbreaking, story of their life together. Their story inspires both Luke and Sophia.

Make no mistake, this film is loaded with almost every cliche you'll find in a Nicholas Sparks movie. Takes place in North Carolina? Check. A kiss/love scene that takes place in the rain or some equivalent? Check. Someone dies? Check. I could go on and on.

I give director George Tillman Jr. a lot of credit though for trying to create a decent romantic drama. And for the most part he succeeds given what he had to work with. I really enjoyed the bull riding scenes. While I've never been a big fan of the sport, he somehow made it interesting. 

Through a series of flashbacks we see Ira and Ruth's love story played out. This was by far my favorite part. Their relationship felt much more realistic than Luke and Sophia's. 

That being said, while I wasn't too impressed with Britt Robertson's performance, I thought Scott Eastwood was great as Luke. It's crazy how much he looks like his father. He's very charming and has the potential to be a really good actor. I'm look forward to more movies from him. 

If you're a Nicholas Sparks fan you're going to love this. While The Longest Ride isn't the best movie ever made, I would watch it again if I'm ever in the mood for a sappy romance movie. Give it a chance.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Furious 7

It's hard to believe but the Fast & the Furious franchise is now 14 years old. I absolutely loved the first movie and have been watching ever since. Hell I even sat through those god awful second and third ones. Honestly, just skip them and watch the first and then movies 4-7. That being said, did I ever imagine I would be sitting here writing a review for a seventh movie? Absolutely not. Furious 7 is by far the most ridiculous and over the top one yet... And I loved every minute of it!

Furious 7 finds Dom (Vin Diesel) and the rest of his crew moving on from the events of the last movie and leave that life behind. Unfourtanetly, their past comes back to haunt them when Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) seeks revenge for what happened to his brother Owen (movie 6's villain played by Luke Evans).

James Wan takes over as director and I think he does a really good job, especially considering he's done mostly horror movies up until this point. I also give him a lot of credit for being able to finish the movie after Paul Walker's death. Since Paul only completed about half of his scenes, they had to use a combination of cgi, body doubles (including Paul's brothers), and stunt doubles. It was edited so well that I couldn't even tell the difference for the most part, except for a few brief moments where it was obvious cgi if you looked really close. 

Even though the action keeps getting crazier and crazier, I had so much fun  watching this movie. It was nearly two and a half hours but it sure didn't feel like it. Although I'm convinced that somewhere along the line (a deleted scene maybe?) Dom and his crew gained superpowers. That's the only explanation I can think of for what they are able to pull off. There's no way a normal human would be able to survive what they do. 

I can forgive them for that though. What I can't forgive them for is the terrible dialog. It's too distracting and I had to take off a point it was so bad.

Overall though, I really enjoyed Furious 7. If you liked the other movies than you'll love this. I know Vin Diesel said there would be an eighth movie, but I wish they would end it here. It tied everything up nicely and it was very respectful to Paul's memory. The last ten minutes had me tearing up. 

Who am I kidding, whenever an eighth movie is released, I'll be there opening night :)

My Rating: 9/10