Late 2014 / Early 2015 Movie Reviews

I am a sucker for movies of all kinds. Lucky for me, there isn’t much else to do around my small town over Christmas break besides head one town over and hit up MJR. Somehow – even with a week and a half-long trip to Florida that split my break in half – I managed to go see six movies over my three week-long break. I also gave in and watched The Interview online, so that makes seven. Seeing as though I’m heading back to college tomorrow, I figured that I would go ahead and share my reviews of the movies I devoted my time and money to. Here they are, in the order that I went to see them:

Horrible Bosses 2  4 stars

Image via screenrant.com

Okay, admittedly, it’s a little late to be talking about this one. It’s been out since the end of November. The original cast returns for the sequel. Once again, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis are out for revenge, while Jennifer Aniston and Jamie Foxx return in supporting roles. Christoph Waltz joins the cast, doing what he does best by playing the villain. Why didn’t anyone tell me that Chris Pine was going to be in this?! He plays Waltz’s sociopath son, and looks damn good while doing it.

I, for one, think Horrible Bosses 2 lived up to the first film. The plot is smart and intricate, and Pine’s character throws everything for a loop. Did I mention that I’m in love with him? But, I digress. Anyway, the ending is crazy and unexpected.

At the moment, I can’t remember any particularly funny lines to quote, but I feel like this is one of those movies that you might have to watch a few times to make it stick. Regardless, Foxx’s “Motherfucker Jones” is still funny, and Charlie Day’s voice is still high-pitched.

Annie  2 stars

Image via Movie Insider

Let me start this one off by saying that I was SUPER excited for this adaptation. I started begging friends and family to take me to see this back in October. I love anything and everything Annie. I have the 1995 Alicia Morton version memorized.

However, this new version was just…weird. I knew not to expect it to be like the others, but this was just too much of a remix for me. There is not way this movie could stand by itself without the success of the Broadway show and the other film adaptations. Quvenzhané Wallis (Annie) was cute, as always, but the music wasn’t really anything special.

The worst song had to be “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here” – which literally consists of that line being repeated over and over to a new beat. “It’s a Hard Knock Life” was probably my favorite, but part of me died when Ms. Hannigan didn’t say “til it shines like the top of the Chrysler building!” I also liked the new version of “Easy Street,” but the actors were clearly lip syncing the entire movie and that was really distracting for me. There were some new songs, too, but nothing noteworthy.

Rose Byrne‘s (Grace) presence was refreshing and I really liked Cameron Diaz‘s take on Ms. Hannigan. Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks (the equivalent of Daddy Warbucks) was also good, and it was funny to see him singing – there is, after all, a solid contrast between Daddy Warbucks and Motherfucker Jones. There is also a random cameo by Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher that made me laugh out loud because of its absurdity.

Did anyone else notice the subtly racist line sung by Annie during “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here?” …when Grace shows Annie the pool at Stacks’ penthouse, Annie asks “Can it teach me how to swim?” Whether or not that was intentional, it threw me off. Anyone else? Just me? Okay :(.

The Theory of Everything  4 stars

Image via Wikipedia

Before we get real here, I’ll start out by saying that Eddie Redmayne is a babe. Somehow, he manages to make Stephen Hawking look a little bit hot. Redmayne wasn’t even on my radar before I saw this, but he has my attention now.

Redmayne does an excellent job tracing Hawking’s disease progression, which apparently involved extensive research and meetings with Hawking himself. His portrayal is absolutely brilliant. Hawking was actually so pleased with Redmayne’s performance that he lended his actual synthesized voice to the film.

The real story of this film, however, lies in Hawking’s relationship with his ex-wife Jane Wilde Hawking, who is played by the beautiful Felicity Jones. In my opinion, Jane kind of comes out looking like a bitch (although I’m not sure how that’s possible, because the film is an adaptation of her book, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen Hawking), but it turns out that Stephen initiated their divorce in real life, so don’t get too down on her.

This movie is definitely an emotional one. The Hawkings’ marriage was filled with so many triumphs and tribulations. The preview alone made me tear up. Somehow, I held it together for the actual film. I’m going to be keeping an eye on The Theory of Everything, Redmayne, and Jones – they are up for a ton of awards this season.

Big Eyes  4 stars

Image via Yahoo! News

I had been dying to see Big Eyes since I saw my first preview. It tells the true story of Margaret Keane, an artist whose husband, Walter Keane fraudulently claimed to have produced her work and became famous by mass producing and selling her paintings during the 1950s.

Amy Adams does a great job (as usual) portraying the psychologically-abused Margaret. Her story is heartbreaking and, at times, pretty scary. Christoph Waltz once again plays – you guessed it! – the bad guy. It might seem like Waltz is getting a little typecast lately, but he does such a good job playing nasty characters that it doesn’t even matter. Big Eyes is directed by Tim Burton, but it’s nowhere near as wacky as Sweeney Todd or Alice in Wonderland.

One cool element of this film is the actual Margaret Keane paintings that are used throughout. The whole film is very detail-oriented (as expected from Tim Burton) and emotional.

In short, this film is excellent. Adams and Waltz are both up for Best Actor/Actress Golden Globes, and Lana Del Ray’s song “Big Eyes” is also up for Best Original Song.

Unbroken  5 stars

Image via Leitersburg Cinemas

I CANNOT SAY ENOUGH GOOD THINGS ABOUT UNBROKEN. I’m not usually one for war movies, but Unbroken was 100% engaging. It’s Angelina Jolie‘s second film as a director, and is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s nonfiction book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.

Jack O’Connell (Cook from Skins!) absolutely kills it as Louis Zamperini, a USA Olympic runner who went on to serve in WWII and survived 47 days at sea after his bomber was shot down, before being captured by Japan and being imprisoned at a series of POW camps.

This one is a little long, clocking in at 137 minutes, but it is completely worth it. The actors gave performances that were absolutely outstanding all around, including O’Connell, Finn Wittrock from American Horror Story, and Miyavi, a newcomer who does an exquisite job playing Zamperini’s tormentor, abusive Japanese sergeant Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe.

O’Connell completely commands the screen, and his ability to get in the mindset of a character experiencing so much physical and psychological trauma is truly commendable. I have a totally new respect for him as an actor that goes beyond the respect I used to have for him as a hot piece of ass.

In all seriousness, Unbroken is truly a story of redemption and forgiveness, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Into the Woods  4 stars

Image via Broadway World.com

I should preface this by mentioning that I’ve never seen the stage version of Into the Woods, so I’m not able to compare the film adaption to the original. All I know is that Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick do a fabulous job leading this cast.

I really loved the music (keep in mind that this was my first time hearing any of it). I think my favorite song was “It Takes Two,” performed by Emily Blunt and James Corden, whose characters are on a quest to gather items from the woods to overthrow a curse in order to have a child.

Actually, all of the actors in this movie do a great job. This includes the younger cast members – Lilla Crawford (Little Red Riding Hood) and Daniel Huttlestone (Jack). The film also features numbers by Johnny Depp and my main man, Chris Pine, who plays a prince who turns out to be kind of a douchebag. Last time we saw him playing a prince was way back in 2004 in The Princess Diaries 2, and he is still equally charming. But seriously, who knew he could sing?

Into the Woods is pretty long…it’s just over two hours. There is also a false ending that made the rest of the film drag for me, but people who are familiar with the play will probably see it coming from a mile away. Overall, a great film that I would definitely watch again.

As far as the Golden Gloves go, Into the Woods is nominated for Best Motion Picture, while Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep are up for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.

The Interview  2 stars

Image via Wikipedia

I almost gave this one 3 stars. Almost, but not quite. Then I thought about giving it 2.5, but decided to stick with 2. I know we have all read a million plot summaries about this movie, so I’ll just cut to the chase.

There just wasn’t anything that was that great about it. It was funny, but it didn’t live up to all the hype. Perhaps the most redeeming quality was how lovably stupid James Franco‘s character was. Seth Rogen was decent, but there was nothing super outstanding about the movie itself. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t actively good, either.

One thing that was kind of nice was that Franco and Rogan were paired with strong supporting female characters, played by Lizzy Caplan (Janice Ian from Mean Girls!) and Diana Bang.

I watched The Interview on YouTube, where you can purchase it for $16 or rent it for a certain number of hours for less. If I were you, I’d save your money and just go for the rental.

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