Mini-Review: The Heat

Works for the most part, but a tad too long

For maximum satisfaction, this buddy comedy featuring an unlikely combination of Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy should be seen with a group of friends. The movie is filled with gags and quips from start to finish, but I feel each one could only make about 50% of the audience laugh. So with the company of other people, there’s a higher chance of getting more out of this rather generic outing.

That said, the distinct factor of the film is really the chemistry between the two main leads as you discover how compatible their personalities are. You root for them and therefore you’ll most likely stay with them ‘til the end, no matter how ridiculous and dumb things get. There’s some bad editing involved at the climax, which all the more makes it look like they focused more on making jokes than constructing a worthwhile story. But hey, overall I still had a good time. Though had it been shorter it would’ve been a lot easier to overlook its problems.

GRADE: C+

Mini-Review: The Hangover Part III

Surprisingly mild, less wild, and more mature

There are few blockbusters left that can surprise you. In the final chapter of the Hangover trilogy, they abandon the original’s concept and instead give way for a more sober conclusion that respects the characters they have so often abused and ridiculed. It might not be a film people expected, but as much as it’s disappointing it’s also satisfying to know that they thought the story over. The lack of laughs is compensated by a more sensible plot. Some problems are still carried over from the last two installments but they are less annoying than before. Ken Jeong is still film’s the strongest asset, while the Wolf Pack has pretty much stayed the same. The movie is actually more dramatic than comedic, and that shift in tone has its advantages as well as problems, but its sincerity manages to keep it afloat without it ever falling apart.

GRADE: C+

Mini-Review: The Bling Ring

A straightforward expose lacking depth

There comes a point when you’re watching a film and you’re presented with something that’s being repeated over and over again and you start to feel numb and tired. Well, that’s exactly the case in Sophia Coppola’s The Bling Ring: a dramatization of real life events that doesn’t bring anything new to the table aside from Emma Watson’s provocative performance. The material is intriguing; eye-catching, yet I’m not sure if it warrants a feature film. By the hour mark you begin to question if anything interesting will ever happen. And by the time the story actually gets engaging the movie is almost about to end and is simply too little, too late. Coppola does deserve credit for her music and cinematography choices, but other than that there isn’t really anything left to commend.

GRADE: C

Movie Review #446: Stoker

Beautifully Disturbing

I’m not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing, but I really enjoyed my viewing of Stoker, a disturbing, psycho-erotic thriller directed by Park Chan Wook (Oldboy) and written by Wentworth Miller. His first American feature, Wook infuses the film with a dark, eerie atmosphere to support the story. And the editing and cinematography only makes it more effective. The three leads, Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode are all captivating; the first one especially. Their lack of regard for others aside from themselves detaches them from their humanity, but I can’t help but be drawn closer towards their characters. There’s no happy ending however, as the conclusion finds only one satisfied. But I’m not totally sure if he/she will be completely okay in the future.

The best thing I can take away from the film is a line narrated in the first few minutes: “Just as a flower does not choose its color; we are not responsible for what we have come to be. Only once you realize this do you become free. And to become an adult, is to become free.” I was a bit surprised how connected the first and last scenes were, so my suggestion to whoever will watch this is to start paying attention from the first frame.

GRADE: B+

Mini-Review: Much Ado About Nothing (2013)

Light-hearted romance with a tinge of childish comedy and mild drama

I admire Joss Whedon’s incredible talent for filmmaking. To be able to create one at his backyard – and a good one at that – without much of a budget is astonishing. While it’s arguable that his adaptation of the classic play by Shakespeare is profound, I believe he has done exactly what he envisioned the project to be. It took me a while to get used to the dialogue as I found the cast to be reading their lines than playing their characters at the beginning. But as soon as the story unravels the focus then shifts and therefore subduing my concerns. There are some intense dramatic moments, but it comes so rarely that I take more notice of the comedy and the love story embedded in it. Not one of those elements is elevated to great heights though, but that’s the most I can complain about. It’s just a sweet, light and well-handled movie – nothing more, nothing less.

GRADE: B

Mini-Review: Pain & Gain

Almost there, but not quite

Michael Bay’s Pain and Gain is 1/3 of an entertaining film, another third a mess and the remaining an excess. There are flashes of brilliance in his direction, showcasing striking visuals amid all the violence. Yet there comes a point where things come across as too much, as nothing else is brought into the table about two-thirds into the movie. The three leads Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie are fun to watch, though it’s nearly impossible to like their characters beyond the sporadic comedic quips they provide. The film eventually loses itself to tonal issues, and the complete package is almost a good one, but not quite.

GRADE: C+