Black Mass

Black Mass Poster

There is a lot going on in Black Mass.   It is a story that spans a long period of time.  It is a story about Whitey Bulger who was a South Boston gang leader that ended up on the F.B.I’s most wanted list for 20 years until he was caught in 2011.  Whitey Bulger is played by Johnny Depp.  Looking over Johnny Depp’s list of movies I see he played John Dillinger but overall has not delt with heavy characters that are as brutal and horrifying as Whitey Bulger.

Johnny Depp delivers an amazing performance as the Irish mobster.  Staring into the audience’s eyes with the blue eyes of Bulger you feel chills as he terrorizes across the country.  Truly wonderful, and very nice to see him doing something far different than his usual characters.

Black Mass the movie, while very good, is a bit scattered.  It is hard to get a sense of what is going on, and the criminal activity that is happening besides random killings.  The story has to deal with multiple locations, time frames and various illegal businesses and it gets a little lost trying to tell it all.  However the performances are so strong and that subject matter is not that important that it is forgivable.  The movie still entertains, frightens, and shows the grip he had on so many people.  It paints a picture of this person that I never knew about and delivers that story very well.

I enjoyed this movie very much, even with it’s flaws.  I think it is worth watching, and paying for.  It is violent, and heavy so be aware if you are looking for a little lighter faire.  It is worth seeing this weekend though if you are looking to hit the theaters and don’t want to go see The Maze Runner movie.

4 Stars for Black mass

Learning To Drive

Learning To Drive Poster

So Learning To Drive that is a movie that might be coming out in a theater near you this weekend, or perhaps next weekend.  It is most likely you have never heard of this movie, and do not know what it is about, or who it is for.  It is about a older divorcee, played by Patricia Clarkson learning to drive a car and creating a friendship with a Sikh Indian man played by Ben Kingsley.  As for who it is for, I am not sure.

What I do not know is this movie is not for 37 year old men in relationships that are not falling apart.  While I can see that this movie is a kind, sweet story about a woman lost in the world in the second half of her life, it did not speak to me at all.  I did not feel connected to any of the characters.  The story didn’t seem like something especially innovative, and it didn’t push the limits of that story into risky ground.  It is a story of a woman in New York going through a divorce and learning to drive.  That is it.  While I can appreciate the acting, and the struggle this character is going through if you are not a divorced 40ish something woman I can not see you really connecting to this movie either.

Learning To Drive really left me puzzled about who is going to see this movie and who is going to connect with this movie.  I can’t see many of my readers here wanting to go see Learning To Drive.  So I think unless you are the very targeted niche this movie is for you can skip this one.  There is just not going to be enough here for you.

3 Stars

We Are Your Friends

We Are Your Friends Poster

Have you ever seen a chill movie.  A movie with conflict and story, and all the things that have to come with a movie but done in a way that is just chill.  Like a sunday mid-day party with chill beats and some drama that is going on over in that cabana over there, but it is not effecting your party.  That is what We Are Your Friends feels like, and I am not sure if that is a good thing or not.

I liked We Are Your Friends because of this, it felt like Zac Efron’s Cole Carter was on the outside looking in at his whole life, and all of it was just going past him.  He is not paying attention or focusing on anything, instead being pulled all around by his friends, his attempts at celebrity, and the girl.   So nothing that is happening is a big deal, it doesn’t feel like a big deal, it just feels like another beat in his life.  You are tricked by the music and the beats and the pulse that those scenes trigger, you get excited and love what you are seeing.  You get into those scenes, and forget about everything else.  This is the problem.

When you look at the movie as a whole, it is a odd chill movie.  It deals with things like drugs, alcoholism and death, but in a way that doesn’t feel like it is a big deal.  These scenes happen and then they end, and then there is a party and running.  That is it.  The bottom doesn’t ever really happen for Cole Carter, and I think it is a worse movie for it.  It feels like an Sunday afternoon movie on TBS, when I think it was meant to be something far more real.  Instead you can watch it whenever you want and it isn’t going to have the meaning and punch I think that was intended.  So while entertaining, it does not deliver what it wanted, which was something more than just a movie about EDM.

So I would say you do not have to go pay to see this movie this weekend.  It is something you should watch on a sunny day, and when you are done go out to a pool party.

3 Stars for We Are Your Friends

American Ultra

American Ultra Poster

So surprise, the new movie about two stoners who get activated by the C.I.A. is not a comedy.  I just wanted to get that out in the open first.  This is not a funny movie, like they make it seem like in the trailers.  This is a hardcore action movie, with almost no message and no reason to really exist.  Take two of the most disliked people in Hollywood, put them together, and make them muted by making them stoned, in love and understanding of each others flaws and mental issues.  Then blow it up.   That is pretty much what American Ultra is, and I am not sure why it is a movie, except to maybe entertain you, which it can do, if you are ok with everything else wrong with it.

You have Mike and Phoebe, who live in West Virginia of all places, and who are useless pot heads.  He has major mental issues, and she for some reason stays with him.  Their lives seem awful and the choices they make are dumb.  Especially Phoebe, who like all Kristen Stewart characters seems to make really dumb decisions because of a boy that is not good for her.  Then some C.I.A. shit happens which does not make any sense at all until the last like 5 minutes of the movie and even then is a really weak plot, then the movie ends.  In between those two parts of the movie is guns and knives and stuff.  So if you are ok with ignoring the plot, and the characters, then you might have an ok time with this movie, because as an action movie it is fun.

In the moment I had fun with it, but if you think about the movie a little bit more and step back and see it for what it was.  It is of pretty poor quality, made shiny by some fun action scenes that barely keep it together.  I think maybe you can rent this movie or wait for it to be on HBO.  I do not think you need to go see it this weekend, it isn’t the movie you thought it was anyway.

2 Stars American Ultra

The Man From U.N.C.L.E

The Man From UNCLE Poster

Is it allowed for you to have two franchises?  I guess Harrison Ford did it, and now Henri Cavill gets the title as well.  Superman and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. which is going to be a franchise, if this movie does even slightly well.  With Alicia Vikander in it, looking awesome in 60’s dresses how could it not.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a fun, stylish, spin on the show from the 60’s.  It has a relaxed attitude, and doesn’t try to be a super spy movie, while being a super spy movie.  It adds elements of comedy with amazing costuming and color to bring together a very fun movie.  Superman does quite well as the American, but Armie Hammer as Illya the Russian doesn’t really deliver and is the weakest link in Guy Ritchie’s chain.

It has all the Guy Ritchie elements that he has perfected this last 20 years, with the zoons, montages, and global crime that he handles so well.  It stays grounded in reality and keeps to technology and style that was accurate for the time.  It all balances out very well, and delivers a very fun time.  The Man From U.N.C.L.E was a pleasant surprise, because I expected so much to go wrong.   If I could ask for one more thing it would be a little bit more comedy, or ribbing between the team, but that can grow with time, as this movie presents itself as a cliffhanger with more movie to come.

I think this movie is worth seeing and paying for.  I think it even works as a date movie, if your date understands they are going to an action movie.  It is not so intense that it would ruin a date night.  So go check it out this weekend and get two more of these made.

4 Stars Man From UNCLE


Vacation Poster

I feel like I grew up on the original National Lampoon’s Vacation, and to some extent European Vacation as well.  Not just watching the movies, but they seemed like they were about my life.  We did road trips to amusement parks all the time, and I just felt like I had a connection to these movies.  The first two are the only one’s I ever considered really amazing, and the rest were just beating a dead horse.  So when you make a reboot of something that has already been done to death and is something that is part of our culture, it is going to be hard to get over. I think they have a little bit of leeway with Vacation however, because there is not a lot of lore, or story arc.  The kids were never the same, and it was just a comedy, and it played out more like a sequel.  They did it right, a reboot that was actually a sequel.

So if you have seen the red band trailer, you know this movie is rated R and at least looks pretty funny.  I would say this is exactly my review of the movie.  It is Rated R and is pretty funny.  It isn’t going to win any awards and I had a fun time watching it.  I really like Christina Applegate, and I really liked that they had the woman doing some of the slapstick stuff, and making some bad decisions as well.  Equal rights for all idiots!  It was done very well.  It stood on it’s own and I could see this becoming a new franchise, as long as they keep up with the R rating and don’t water it down.  This movie also has one of the best opening credits sequences I have even seen, so make sure you are in your seat before the movie starts.

This is not the best comedy of the year, but it also isn’t a waste of time.  I would say even paying for this movie might be worth it, if you are looking for a comedy and already saw Trainwreck.  If you are looking for action though this weekend Mission Impossible wins out over Vacation.

3 Stars for Vacation


Pixels Movie Review

The reason I wanted to start writing movie reviews, was to stop paying for movies.  I went to so many movies, the expense was just getting so high, so I decided to figure out a way for me to save money on something I love to do.  I still love going to the movies most of the time, and I still love movies.  This is not my job, this is a side project that I do, and I do not see every movie.  So I think that is why I disagree with most critics on Pixels.

Pixels is a fun movie, it has jokes, video games, amazing CG, Peter Dinklage, and nostalgia.  It is a Happy Madison production, and it does follow Happy Madison’s formula that they seem to pull out for every movie, hot women, underdogs, random jokes, and not a lot of depth.  I think this is where the difference is between something who loves movies, and who’s job it is to watch movies.  Pixels if rated against Inside Out, or Ex-Machina is no where close to as good, but I don’t care, and you should not either.  Pixels is just a fun movie, it has a Giant Pac-Man, and an amazing Centipede, Q-Bert and so many other little awesome things in it.  It looks amazing, and for the most part is quite funny.  What else do you need?  This movie is a fun summer movie, and as always that is how I rate my movies.  How much did I have fun watching it or how much did I enjoy it, and I enjoyed Pixels quite a bit.

If you know you are getting into a Happy Madison production, and you accept that you will have just as much of a good time with Pixels as I did.  Ignore all the critics including me, and go see it if it looks good to you.  On the 3-D front, this was a conversion movie, so not natively shot in 3-D.  Which is a shame because if it was, I bet I would say go see it in 3-D.  It was still quite amazing looking in 3-D for a conversion movie, so you might even want to put up the extra cash for it.

4 Stars for Pixels

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