I went to 27 different movies and journeyed 39 time to the movie theater across the last three weeks in the Search For Stubs contest. We see nearly every movie as bloggers, but not every movie.
The best and worst part of this contest has been forcing myself to see every single movie with a major theatrical release.
It may seem like the easiest job in the world to see movies and review them. It is and it isn’t. One would be remiss to complain about such a wonderful perk that includes free screenings of theatrically released movies. But if you go to too many, they begin blending together. It becomes difficult to objectively review the movie because you are still fuming after the disaster of a prior screening or in awe of a brilliant one.
I definitely don’t want to review every movie I saw over the last three weeks – but I’d like to share a few brief thoughts on each – in the interest of justifying seeing a movie like Prom. Consider these Twitter-sized reviews and NOTE - the following reviews are solely my opinion and do not reflect that of Screen Rant. Oh, and the number next to some of the films represents the amount of times I screened it during the contest.
Thor - Marvel continues to seamlessly blend comedy and legend in the latest comic book movie. It has its flaws, like blatant abuse of canted angles, action scenes that feel too short at times, and an overall dark look that hurts the 3D experience. But in general, Thor is a funny, engaging, exciting and new product that feels like a relief from the current onslaught of sequels and remakes. You can check out our full review -HERE.
Top Gun 25th Anniversary – AMC Theaters provided an opportunity to see Top Gun on the big screen and I was not going to miss it. Goose still dies, Tom Cruise’s teeth are still off-center, the sun is still setting and the movie is still awesome. Top Gun is like a mid-80s version of the action movies we love today like Fast Five – those movies that just love to entertain.
Fast Five (3) - Everything about Fast Five is a blockbuster. When I visited the set last year, I told everybody this had potential to be the best in the franchise and by most accounts, that is true. The action is bigger and the hits are harder and The Rock is everything we’ve wanted him to be since his crossover from wrestling. You can check out our full review -HERE
Prom - The best way to describe Prom is to call it 10 Things I Hate About You 2 – if Disney made it with rookie filmmakers.
Memphis - It was a unique experience to see a Broadway musical in a movie theater. The first 30 minutes provide great behind-the-scenes details that enhance the multi-camera presentation that follows. The musical itself is pretty intense, and may not be for everyone – exploring issues like racism and music as one cohesive unit.
Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil - The worst movie released in recent memory.
Water For Elephants (3) - A total surprise. I did not know what to expect when I went to Water For Elephants. Christoph Waltz shines yet again as a mesmerizing and terrifying villain. The cinematography is breathtaking and the story is just as heart-breaking as it is heart-warming. If you like classic romances, you will most likely enjoy this one.
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family – I had never seen a Tyler Perry film prior to this and must say that while 90% of it was unwatchable, Madea comes across as one of the funniest characters on screen right now – and almost made the experience worthwhile.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules - The franchise continues, but there is little entertainment value for those without a family. The supporting characters of this movie are so bumbling that their comedy is almost unbearable, but this franchise has served as a potential launch vehicle for a few careers in stand-up comedy at dive bars.
Insidious - The third act of this terrifying film makes up for an otherwise predictable movie. Once the spirit hunters enter the movie, everything fills with life and adds a much-needed punch. Overall, though, the ridiculous music and poor editing made for a movie that isn’t worth a trip to the theater.
The Conspirator - A slow, dull, biopic that tries too hard to preach about modern-day political inequities rather than explore the impact of major events in their own time. Still, it serves its purpose and looks gorgeous doing so. The lighting deserves an award of its own and took all my attention away from the boring action it illuminated.
Your Highness (2) - With a star-studded comedy cast and a $50 million budget, Universal still couldn’t muster enough laughs to secure a classic comedy. Yet, it felt like it was supposed to be. Danny McBride and James Franco are so comfortable together that their chemistry flows naturally, but they just didn’t pick the right movie in which to share it. Then again, the presence of Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel made the whole thing worthwhile. You can check out our full review - HERE.
African Cats (2) - African Cats is one of the best nature documentaries I’ve ever seen. While Planet Earth is unrivaled in its massive scope, DisneyNature wisely found a narrative just as intriguing as any other created by a studio. The lions and cheetahs in this documentary are presented with grace and fury so awe-inspiring it will prevent even the man with the world’s smallest bladder to stay in his seat for 90 minutes.
Rio - The animated movie didn’t look great when trailers first released and didn’t improve much upon final viewing. Riddled with cliches and an uninteresting storyline, Rio looks nice but lacks the emotional punch it desperately forces upon its viewers. If it only embraced its fluffy substance it could have been a fun, feel-good movie.
Scream 4 (3) - Hayden Panettiere returns to the big screen looking better than ever. The opening 10 minutes are hilarious. Those are about all the compliments I can think of. You can check out our full review - HERE.
Adjustment Bureau (2) - Thomas Newman’s score headlines a surprisingly great adaptation of this Philip K. Dick story. I tend to enjoy most of his adaptations, but something seemed missing throughout the promotional campaign here. Yet, not a single scene went by in the theater that I did not enjoy. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt share brilliant on-screen charisma and the movie provides that rare opportunity to think about your own life in the context of the fictional story. You can check out our full review - HERE.
Cedar Rapids - The indie comedy scene is one that rarely gets enough viewers. Cedar Rapids is another example of a hidden gem that will hopefully get a second wind on home video. The trailer presented a movie about a rivalry, but it turned out to be much more of a buddy comedy than I expected, headlined by the always hilarious Ed Helms and John C. Reilly.
Source Code (3) - Clearly inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, Duncan Jones’ sophomore film has proven him to be a worthy director to watch. Jake Gyllenhaal has a great time playing a character caught in a bizarre but compelling mystery and keeps the movie flowing amidst the potential for repetition. Once the twists begin turning, the movie hooks you and doesn’t let you go – up until a confusing final scene. You can check out our full review - HERE.
Battle: Los Angeles (2) - One of the many alien invasion movies of the year hit theaters with as much testosterone as the other heavy-hitters that launch the summer slate. The only difference is the acting was twice as bad. But all the bad acting in the world couldn’t hurt the entertainment value of the epic disaster movie that tore Los Angeles to shreds. You can check out our full review - HERE.
Trust - David Schwimmer’s harrowing take on the impact of rape is all too real. Clive Owen plays the role of devastated father unflinchingly and deserves unbridled praise for it. Schwimmer’s turn as director is not over, but hopefully he can seek out more light-hearted material.
Hanna - Saoirse Ronan stars in one of the most unique movies of the year so far. The Chemical Brothers’ score is just as original as the style of the movie itself. The story isn’t as new as some might think – but the way it is approached is unpredictable, gorgeous and atmospheric. You can check out our full review - HERE.
Rango - Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp have reunited, but the product is quite different from the Pirates of the Caribbean. The off-beat comedic style hasn’t changed much, but Rango is as much a Western as the classics that inspired. Like many animated films, it embraces its ability to mock pop culture and still tell a tale can only be accomplished through animation. Speaking of animation, the world designed by ILM is gorgeously rendered. You can check out our full review - HERE.
Born To Be Wild 3D - The short documentary provides a look at two inspiring stories that few know about. The beauty of a good documentaries is the uncanny ability to present the unknown in its true form. Put a great 3D camera in the mix and Born To Be Wild is a terrific use of technology to tell a story about two animal lovers who did good without any technology.
Limitless (2) - Bradley Cooper gets in Robert De Niro’s face in one of the most memorable scene of the year so far. That scene also closed out a movie that was highly entertaining and decidedly fresh. I left the theaters desperately craving NZT equally as much as more movies from director Neil Burger. You can check out our full review - HERE.
Arthur (2) - Russell Brand doesn’t change a thing from his typical brand of raunchy comedy and I wouldn’t have it any other way. He is a hilarious comedian, but found himself in a movie that was untimely and dragged at times. Helen Mirren is a great character and Greta Gerwig can be added to the list of quirky leading ladies like Zooey Deschanel that seem to headline romantic comedies these days. The second viewing was much tougher to watch than the first, but it still had a few worthy punchlines and earned its place amongst early 2011 comedies. You can check out our full review - HERE.
Hop - When a studio makes a movie around a holiday, they rarely create a memorable film. Only a few Christmas movies and a Halloween tale or two have become classics. Hop is another miserable example of cash cow holiday merchandising. The recycled story was a cop out in every way and the actors seemed like they were dying for a paycheck. The movie business would have been better off without Hop.
Soul Surfer - The formulaic story could have been the most inspiring film of the year so far, but instead it was hilariously bad. In almost every way possible this movie missed its opportunity to share a powerful true story. When I first heard it on ESPN, I was moved to tears. When I first saw Soul Surfer on the big screen, I was embarrassed.
Share your thoughts on the movies I saw over the past three weeks in the comments section below.