August Osage County Yes, it was a 2013 film, but did not come to Dayton until January. There are just a couple small issues with the Oscars. Why out of the entire cast, was Julia Roberts nominated? Sure, she was really good in this film, but she didn’t lose herself in her character like Meryl Streep (who was nominated as well), Chris Cooper (Who deserved a nomination), Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Abagail Breslin, Dermott Mulroney (Julia Roberts performance was similar to her performance in My Best Friend’s Wedding, while the situation and Character should have been completely different. Durmott Mulroney was almost unrecognizable here), and Julianne Nicholson. And Why was Julia Roberts nominated for Best Supporting Actress when she had just as much screen time as Meryl Streep. Anyway, about the film: it had a great Ensemble cast that it used well. It created an atmosphere that let audience feel the August heat, despite viewing it in the middle of winter. It’s not necessarily a DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack purchase, but it’s a DVD buy. The film is effective. 4/5.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. It’s too bad this was released in January, during the extended visit of the polar vortex. That, probably had a negative effect on the box office numbers. With plenty of terrible movies becoming franchises (or good movies like The Hangover becoming terrible triologies), Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was a lot of fun, even if it wasn’t the most original film. Chris Pine was a good Jack Ryan, even if no one will ever match Harrison Ford. Kiera Knightley was a good love interest, who didn’t just sit back and look pretty. It’s not the kind of film, this writer would buy the DVD/ BlU-Ray combo pack or the special edition in ten years, but it would make a good addition to any DVD collection.
The Lego Movie It’s a lot of fun while encouraging, but not forcing people to think. Those are the types of films that get better on repeated viewings. It has a silly enough style that small children will be entertained (though they will be even more entertained when they watch it years from now and are old enough to get the jokes). And Adults are equally as entertained. It had symbolism of corporate control strangling creativity as well as interpersonal, parent-child relationships. This film is the type to buy the DVd/Blu-Ray Combo Pack as well as the special Edition in a few decades. 5/5.
The Monuments Men. It had a great cast and a compelling story. This writer desperately wanted to disagree with what critics had been saying. The execution of the story was sloppy, and the film was just plain boring. Hopefully the cast will get to work together in a better film. This writer may watch the film on TV during a nasty blizzard if there is nothing else to do, but only to give it a second chance out of affection for the cast. 2/5
Divergent It wasn’t a Hunger Games Rip-off. It’s about a teenage girl trying to survive in a dystopian future, but that is it. This writer is a huge fan of the book and saw the film from the perspective of someone who loved the book. The main issue was that people who were not the two leads, were not distinctive. There are four male characters in particular: One was a bully in the initiation class, one was a guy who struggled to keep up with the rest of the class, one was the main character’s own brother who was in a completely different faction, and one was a in the small circle of close friends of the main protagonist. These characters were completely indistinct from one another. The filmmakers could have made them more relevant as their actions all affected the plot, but this writer may have been confused if she hadn’t read the book. Hopefully the filmmakers put more effort into the sequel as they have good source material to work with. This writer will probably stick with the books. 2.5/5.
The Muppets Most Wanted Not the best Muppet movie, but it was still a lot of fun. There were plenty of laughs and the film continually and cleverly showed it was aware of how ridiculous the situation was (that’s what a good Muppet movie should do). It’s worth repeated viewings. Future Muppets movies should focus more on the Muppets instead of trying to use “big stars” to sell the films, but if it’s going to use big names people like Ty Burrell, Ricky Gervais, and Tina Fey are good choices because they are actually funny and don’t overwhelm their scenes. Anglophiles will delight in the cameos. It’s worth a DVD buy. 3.5/5
The Grand Budapest Hotel. Wes Anderson did some great genre bending with this film. He turned a Murder Mystery, Innocent on the Run, Heist, Period Drama, Thriller into an absurd comedy that was a story within a story within a story. It’s fun and thought provoking and it has several layers that blend seamlessly together. Whose story is it? It has a great ensemble cast, that unlike Monuments Men, actually uses really well. It’s worth the DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack purchase and the special Edition buy in a few decades. 5/5.
Captain America The Winter Soldier This is by far the best of the Phase Two Avenger films. Too bad it got an early April release as it’s better than just about every summer film so far. The only issue with the film is the fast motion used in some of the action sequences is a little jarring. Other than that, the film makes the most of screen time and doesn’t take for granted the fact that Marvel fans will come to see it. The Characters are all relevant. Nick Fury is the coolest he’s been in any Avenger film. Maria Hill is much more interesting than she was in the Avengers movie. Black Widow becomes even more awesome every time she is on screen. Sam Wilson (Falcon) was likeable, funny, and great in the action scenes. He also worked well with Steve Rogers, true to the comics. Agent 13 probably should have gotten more to do, but the rest of the film was so great that this writer is willing to excuse it as Steve Rogers getting to know Agent 13 in a similar way he got to know her in the comics. Steve Rogers himself was also fantastic. This writer loves the fact that, while he misses his time he is actually embracing the new era and looking to enjoy life (his list of things people are suggesting he check out). It’s a nice touch to not just have him moping around feeling sorry for himself, but actually trying to make the world a better place. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a thoroughly satisfying cinematic experience. The Russo brothers packed a lot into 2 ½ hours, but it all paid off. So many good things to say, so little space to say it. (though, on a side note, it’s a shame Edgar Wright will no longer be at the helm of Ant Man. He, like Joss Whedon and the Russo brothers, is a huge nerd with a love for the source material and would have put a lot of care into the film). This writer will definitely but the DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. 5/5.
Occulus This film does what great horror films should do. It leaves the audience more disturbed after watching the film. The acting, editing, cinematography, and everything else about the production all compliment the story telling. The Audience can follow the film easily enough, but are left to question what they just saw. It’s worth repeated viewings as it is the kind of film a viewer could derive a different interpretation on each viewing. This is a film for people who enjoy thinking and analyzing things. People who prefer to “check their brains at the door” could see another number of other horror films where the characters are just plain idiotic. It’s would make a good addition to any DVD collection. 4/5.