No-Spoilers Movie Reviews – September 2015
In theaters now (or Redbox):
The Fantastic Four
Is NOT fantastically crappy. Really. I’ve seen worse. But I can understand why most movie critics loathed this latest incarnation of the beloved comic book. Yes, the first half is exactly as it should be: funny, inspiring, easy to relate to. (Who doesn’t love a boy genius who wants to teleport?) The second half? Devoid of humor. Dreary. Sorely lacking in “Look at our cool new super powers! Let’s be a team and triumph over Victor von Doom!”
You expect more from the writer-director who brought us a fresh perspective on superheroes in Chronicle. (It’s not all his fault; we don’t have time to get into it here.) But the guys are hot, the music’s cool, and the price of admission is $1.99 at the discount cinema for a movie that cost $120 million to make. Sweet.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials|
Even more thrilling than the original, although some movie-goers might protest the addition of a particular type of monster, trendy in blockbuster flicks these days. The newcomers ramp up the suspense-thriller action times a gazillion, so quit your whining.
Also cool, in retrospect, are elements of Star Wars, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Matrix, Divergent, and even Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (in a scene featuring Alan Tudyk of Firefly fame. Long live Wash!). GenXers will enjoy a special appearance by a certain Mystic Pizza and Dogfight alumna.
The phrase “mad cap” comes to mind about three-quarters of the way through this quirky coming-of-age film starring Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha, Greenberg). Veering slightly into “annoying” territory, the movie abruptly turns into a play in which every character on stage runs around like a frog in a blender and everything the characters say is quick/witty/oh-so-charming. Frankly, it took me out of the story.
Still, Mistress America is an enjoyable ride, especially for writers who can laugh at their younger selves. Plus, if anyone is worthy of being the object of a girlcrush, it’s Gerwig.
Crush on, ladies.
The Skeleton Twins
The opening scene is tragic and hilarious, which describes the entire film. Actors Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader love to specialize in “awkward.” As estranged twins who reunite after more than a decade, they hit every cringe-worthy note on the suicidal-brother-sister love-you-hate-you scale.
And it’s brilliant.
On DVD at your local public library:
Christoph Waltz won the Oscar for best supporting actor in this 2012 Quentin Tarantino classic, and after the first scene, you’ll understand why. A bounty hunter with a sexy German accent and heart of gold who despises slavery? Insert dreamy look.
Kind, razor-sharp, and the quickest draw in the West, Dr. King Schultz trains freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx) to become his partner and rescue his wife from a sadistic plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). Tarantino justly won the Academy Award for Best Writing/Original Screenplay. Grit your teeth through the comically bloody gunfights (here a squirt, there a squirt, everywhere a squirt, squirt), because it’s all worth it. The last scenes will make you stand up and cheer.
“They Suck at School.” Ignore the marketing team’s weak tagline and dive into this fun and witty big screen version of Richelle Mead’s best-selling novel. Fans of TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (or anything by writer-director Joss Whedon) will enjoy Rose’s sassy personality and pop culture references as she protects her best friend Lissa, from the evil undead. The setting? Boarding school for vampire royalty and their half-human/half-vampire guardians. I know. Pretty awesome. Doesn’t hurt that Rose’s mentor, Dimitri, is a tall, swoon-worthy Russian dude. (Sorry, Angel, but I think you’ve met your hot-love-interest match. Spike, on the other hand, could give Dimitri a run for his rubles.)
Pride and Prejudice
“Apparently it’s a flawless masterpiece,” Sheldon says in a glum tone on The Big Bang Theory after he realizes it’s pointless trying to find fault with girlfriend Amy’s favorite book.
Jane Austen’s classic novel of manners is a satiric look at class, education, marriage, and morality in early 19th century England. The 2005 version stars Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennet, the second of a country gentleman’s five daughters who dream of marrying up. Along comes the seemingly cold – and very wealthy – Mr. Darcy who clashes with the cynical, intelligent Lizzy. Of course, they hate each other. At first. The ballroom scene is enough to make me want to toss on a corset and voluminous dress, say goodbye to breathing, and fill all the blank spaces on my dance card with “Fitzwilliam Darcy.”
I may not rest until I own this one.
For extra credit, watch the rom-com Austenland, starring Kerrie Russell, and be sure to sit through the credits. If you’ve never seen Jane Austen’s beloved characters rap, you haven’t seen anything.
Katherine Valdez believes in life, liberty, and the pursuit of fabulous entertainment. Follow her @KatValdezWriter on Instagram and Twitter, www.KatValdezWriter.wordpress.com, and www.facebook.com/AuthorKatherineValdez.