I watch crappy movies so you don't have to.

Monday, January 5, 2015

DVD Review For January 6, 2015

Rated: PG-13
Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd
Plot: The story of the life of the godfather of soul, James Brown

Clint Says: It's worth seeing once

James Brown was larger than life. Director Tate Taylor found that out when he took on the challenge of trying to fit all of James Brown into a two-hour movie. It's something that can be done, and someone may eventually be able to do it well, buy Taylor's effort doesn't make the cut.

The story jumps around in a non-chronological order with several story lines not coming together in a cohesive and understandable way until the last few minutes of the movie. In a movie with less content or fewer story lines it's a creative tactic that can add a compelling nature to a film, but in this case it's just confusing.

Taylor also tries to cover so much material that he misses major moments. For example, there are major, life-changing events that happen during the course of the film that are merely mentioned and then washed over by the next story. It was frustrating to be told that something significant was happening, but not be able to see the aftermath play out on screen.

Boseman does a fine job in portraying James Brown both on and off the stage, but his speaking pattern and accent are very difficult to understand. (I have a slight hearing loss issue and tend to read lips as an aide to understanding what people are saying. In this case it was very difficult for me to do that).

It's not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not great either.

Rated: PG-13
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Lea Thompson, Cassi Thompson
Plot: A group of people struggle to survive after millions of people vanish in the rapture.

Clint Says: It's an epic story done on a made-for-tv budget

If you haven't read the Tim LaHaye LEFT BEHIND series, I highly recommend it. They are fascinating and gripping. Unfortunately, that intensity and sheer size of the rapture is just too grand of a story to be done well on the big screen with anything less than a $250 Million budget.

For the most part, the acting is okay and believable, with a few notable exceptions where it feels like we are watching a PBS afternoon special, making for some cringe-worthy moments. 

This is an end-of-the-world flick in which the world meets it's doom in a literal apocalypse. I expect a movie like that to have relationships for sure, but it's also about the effects, and in this case they are low-budget and often times eye-rollingly cheesy. The climactic scene looks like the kind of effects that would have mesmerized us in the mid-80s. 

I would like to recommend this film because the books are so good, but I really can't. Go read the books instead, your mental special effects will be so much better.

Rated: R
Stars: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke
Plot: The story of a boy as he grows up from 5 to 18.

Clint Says: Everyone should see this movie once

This is a fascinating case-study in long-term movie making. Director, Richard Linklater, shot this movie over the span of 12 years with the same cast. It is truly a unique film and a unique film-watching experience. (Although, one might argue that the 8 HARRY POTTER films with the same cast filmed over 11 years is even more impressive).

That said, BOYHOOD isn't really that great of a movie. 

If you take away the 12 year shoot, it's a pretty boring film with some pretty bad acting. The main cast members do an incredible job, but the bit players are painful to watch. There isn't much drama and when there is drama it quickly goes away and the story jumps forward a year or two.

This movie is almost three hours long and it feels like it. Imagine watching three hours of really well done home movies of someone you've never met. You walk away pretty sure you know that person fairly well, but you still aren't sure that you really care. That is BOYHOOD in a nutshell.

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