Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Quick and Dirties

Weird things going on that I'm sure doesn't happen anywhere else. My kids have been taking up more and more computer time with some strangeness they call homework. My own time on the computer has been increasingly used for work stuff. 'Tis does not feel like the season, yet. Anyhoo, what all this means is that even though I'm still watching movies I haven't had time to write out full blown reviews of them. This has led to the introduction of these - The Quick and Dirties. These are going to be one paragraph reviews that cut to the chase. I'll try to make my opinion on these movies crystal clear because, as you know, the scoring system around here recently became extinct. However, don't look for super in-depth analysis.

For the first installment, we're tackling a quartet of movies that, for some reason or another, fell onto the back burner.

Directed by Neil Burger.
2014. Rated PG-13, 139 minutes.
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Kate Winslet, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Mekhi Phifer, Miles Teller, Maggie Q.
Yet another movie adapted from a YA novel where the government is trying to control all aspects of our lives. In this case, teens are tested and herded into one of several roles in society where they'll remain for the rest of their lives. The issue is that the test results of our heroine Tris Pryor (Woodley) means she's actually a fit for more than one role. THIS MEANS SHE'S DIVERGENT! GASP! It's an interesting concept which the movie never takes advantage of, nor explains sufficiently. We get that it means she's different from everyone else, but what that actually means is unclear. What great threat does she pose or power does she possess that we should care about? In a metaphoric sense, I understand it's a rallying cry urging us to maintain our individuality. Unfortunately, it never makes this work in the literal sense needed to make the movie work. Not having read the source material, I imagine these things were left out of the cinematic version for some odd reason. Maybe they're being saved for the sequel. Worse than that, for a movie espousing the virtues of self expression it has an oddly cookie-cutter feel to it.

Draft Day
Directed by Ivan Reitman.
2014. Rated PG-13, 110 minutes.
Cast: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Frank Langella, Chadwick Boseman, Ellen Burstyn, Sam Elliot.
Kevin Costner plays Sonny Weaver Jr., the General Manager of the troubled Cleveland Browns. Today is, obviously, the day of the NFL Draft. Do they try to move up to the number one pick and get the hotshot quarterback everyone has been salivating over? Do they stand pat and get the guy the coaches have been studying for months? or do they take the guy Sonny knows is the right guy and whom he has a bleeding heart for? And what about the secret office romance he's been carrying on with Ali Parker (Garner), the team salary cap manager? There is a "you are there" quality that NFL fans might enjoy. However, it's highly questionable whether the way any of this plays out is plausible in any way. This is not its biggest drawback, though. That distinction belongs to its overwhelming predictability. Within the first twenty minutes we've figured out everything that's going to happen for the next hour and a half. The movie dutifully sets up every character so that their story-lines, if they have one, can only end one way. Therefore, instead of being a gripping, gritty drama about the inner workings of a professional sports franchise, we get a less than thrilling melodrama.

Directed by Robert Schwentke.
2013. Rated PG-13, 96 minutes.
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary Louise-Parker, Kevin Bacon, Stephanie Szostak, Marisa Miller, James Hong, Devin Ratray.
When Boston police officer Nick Walker is killed in the line of duty, he finds himself assigned to the Rest in Peace Department helping to send evil spirits to their damnation of something like that. Of course, he goes all Ryan Reynolds. In his new unit, he's the rookie and is paired with hardened vet Roycephus Pulsipher. This guy is played by Jeff Bridges doing Rooster Cogburn, but in an action-comedy instead of a Coen Brothers flick. R.I.P.D. wants to be Men in Black, but never quite gets there. The chemistry between our leads is very good, keeping it from being a total dud. There are also some fun action sequences. Sadly, it still manages to take its absurd premise a bit too seriously instead of throwing all caution to the wind. Call it an opportunity missed. Maybe it would've worked better had Reynolds recorded a snazzy rap song for the theme song. Here come the R.I.P.'s, here come the R.I.P.'s, here come the R.I.P.'s. Now freeze.

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Directed by Michael Bay.
2014. Rated PG-13, 165 minutes.
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Sophia Miles, Thomas Lennon.
More giant robots fighting. This time, some of them are dinosaurs. Everything goes boom. Mark Wahlberg stands in for Shia LaBeouf. Other puny humans make silly jokes. It's as bad as you've heard. It's probably worse than that, really.


  1. I like this feature! Most of my computer time is work-related or something related to my kids' education, so I feel your pain. :-)

  2. R.I.P.D. was crap. The visual effects were awful. Jeff Bridges seems to arrived on the set thinking he's in another movie while Ryan Reynolds is just bland.

    I haven't seen the new Transformers and I never will... Michael Bay is the worst filmmaker ever and I would rather be raped and sodomized by men with diseases than see one of his films. I'm serious.

    1. Wow. I'm not a Michael Bay fan, either, and it is awful, but I'd rather watch Transformers than take a raping from diseased men, lol.

  3. I've watched everything except Transformers 4 because I gave up on Transformers after the horrible 2nd one.

    R.I.P.D was just awful.

    Draft Day was entertaining but it assumes too much that the audience knows the premise. This is the football that is hardly played out outside of the US. I may have a vague idea of the game that's played on the field, but all the other stuff outside of it...nope. I don't think the movie had much appeal internationally.

    As for Divergent; Tris can fit into a few factions/roles and thus Divergent. In short she is considered a threat because firstly she can't be brainwashed and controlled by any one faction ideology. Secondly no one can be certain of her loyalties.

    Wandering through the Shelves

    1. Great perspective on Draft Day. I'm a huge football fan, familiar with everything going here...and it still didn't blow me away. Like you said, entertaining, though.

      I got that about Tris in Divergent, but on the screen, it didn't come across properly, in my opinion. It felt like they were making a big deal about something without proving why they should.

  4. I wasn't a big fan of Divergent, I wasn't convinced with Shailene Woodley, and the sequences felt repetitive. It was trying to be the next Hunger Games, and the adaptation could have used more action and a little less of whatever was going on in the movie.

  5. Great idea, and what a brilliant name for this series! I didn't mind R.I.P.D too much but I couldn't work out whether it was meant to be series or silly, it kept changing. Reynolds and Bridges are a funny duo though. Can we start a campaign for Ryan Reynolds to do that rap? I would pay good money to see it!
    - Allie

    1. Whether or not it was supposed to be serious was a big problem with R.I.P.D. I'd also pay to see that rap.

  6. Interesting new feature.

    I loved Divergent, although they left the plot open (likely on purpose to warrant a sequel) I didn't think it was too hard to grasp that she was a threat because she was unique. I'd take a sequel to that before I waste my time with another Hunger Games installment.

    RIPD was crap, I couldn't figure out if the producers were serious with that movie or if it was suppose to be a joke of a film, seeing how it starred Ryan Reynolds I'm going to assume the latter.

    Lastly, I thought Transformers Age of Extinction was better than the first three Transformers movies. Shia can't act to save his f--ing life, Megan Fox only had her appearance to fall back on which sadly was getting tiring after awhile. Mark Wahlberg seems to be coming out of hibernation these past few years, I'm hoping we see more quality work from him.

    1. I understand that Tris is a threat, I just don't think they did a good enough job making me care. Instead, they were all about setting up that sequel. Yup, R.I.P.D. has some serious issues. The shame is that it could really have been a very fun movie.

      As far as Transformers goes, I liked the first one a lot. That's probably because having to tell an origin story reigned in Michael Bay quite a bit. Yeah, I know Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox are both terrible, but that one works for me. The sequels are all trash, I've given up trying to decipher if any of them are better than the others.

  7. I also felt full reviews where too time-consuming to do all the time, so I've been writing brief notes for a while now

    1. Yeah, I'm not going to abandon full reviews, but this is nice to use when I don't feel the urge to go all in on a movie or when time is a prohibiting factor.