2015's Most Anticipated Round-Up: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Pt 2
The next five films managed to not make me walk out of the theater, but they certainly were not as memorable. I enjoyed parts of all these movies, but as films they all felt like they were missing something. I think these movies are all worth checking out on video or a matinee, just don't get too excited about them.
2. Avengers: Age of Ultron (PG-13) - Runtime: 141 minutes
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Other People
Director: Joss Whedon
Writer: Joss Whedon
I wrote in my most anticipated article that this film might fall under the weight of its hefty plot and characters and this was indeed true. The movie wasn't bad - it was enjoyable, but with such high expectations and the previous Avengers making an unfair, but necessary, comparison only made the flaws in Ultron that much bigger. It was hard to manage the pressure in this movie - the Avengers once again have to save the world like last time but the world never felt in danger, nor did any of the Avengers. They introduce characters like candy and quickly kill them off by the end of the movie (Quicksilver, Ultron).
I understand getting the Avengers together should be a big deal, but the movie would have been better served if there wasn't a "save the planet" emergency that was created by an Avenger. It just felt a little lazy and way overstuffed with new characters while also trying to put into place the chess pieces for the next Captain America and Avengers movies. It was fun, but not the best we've seen from Marvel.
13. Tomorrowland (PG) - Runtime: 130 minutes
Starring: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson
Director: Brad Bird
Writers: Brad Bird, Damon Lindelof
A case of bad marketing - Tomorrowland suffered from too much mystery. When honestly, the marketing (and the movie itself) should have dispensed with all the mystery and straight up sold us on an amazing future-world that dreams are made of. The plot was so wrapped up in keeping the world of Tomorrowland a secret throughout most of the movie that the rest of the story and characters suffered from it. There's a cool story and probably some fun adventures to be had, but the movie didn't want to show us any of that. So you have these awesome visuals and spectacular ideas for Tomorrowland, but you only get brief glimpses.
There's a nice dose of Disney magic inside the movie and Brad Bird's direction is great, but the movie doesn't start off fast enough and by the time the film ends, you're left thinking, "That's it?" It's worth seeing but maybe you should hold off until it comes out on video.
6. Pitch Perfect 2 (PG-13) - Runtime: 115 minutes
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Writer: Kay Cannon
Pitch Perfect was so great and the fact that it came out of nowhere was part of its appeal. The problem with comedy sequels is they try really hard to recapture that lightning in a bottle from the first and end up failing for trying too hard. Pitch Perfect 2 ends up being okay. The jokes aren't as great - some of them even really bad, like every single one from the stereotyped-Hispanic character. There were some nice moments in the film - the German group was funny, but the music pieces and mashups were not as fun or as epic as they felt from the first movie.
The film's plot felt like it had no direction and the conflict between all of the Bellas felt forced and disingenuous. The addition of Hailee Steinfeld's character didn't strike a chord as did Kendrick's from the first. And I HATE it when comedies cue their plot conflicts from something that could have easily been avoided if the character just TOLD PEOPLE THE TRUTH and acted like a real person in the real world. It's worth renting, though.
16. Magic Mike XXL (R) - Runtime: 115 minutes
Starring: Channing Tatum, Matthew Bomer
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Writer: Reid Carolin
A completely different movie from the first film, XXL manages to have its moments, but overall the movie wasn't as enjoyable as the first. It's an fun road trip movie and it never quite takes itself too seriously as all the dudes (except McConaughey) are back. They all have their own amazing moments in the film (Joe Manganiello's gas station bit is the highlight), but there is never any real good ensemble pieces from all the boys which is what made the first so entertaining.
And XXL drags in the middle when they meet up with Jada Pinkett Smith's house of wonders/horrors. The film loses it's bright cheeriness and literally goes too dark (seriously, the lighting was pretty bad) during those scenes and when they stay over at Andie MacDowell's house as well. But once they get to Myrtle Beach, the end dance number is a doozy and makes use of Nine Inch Nail's Closer to great effect. The ending makes seeing the movie totally worth it.
41. Run All Night (R) - Runtime: 114 minutes
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: Brad Ingelsby
Liam Neeson's prerequisite action flick for the year, Run All Night, is a decent thriller. Although seeing Neeson playing another drunk, lousy father who somehow manages to kick everyone's ass is getting a wee bit tired. But the film actually manages to find some thrills, mainly in the fact that him and his son are both being chased down by Ed Harris' goons. And that pretty much sums up the whole movie. Honestly, I don't remember much from the film, other than the fantastic showdown in the woods which has some great visuals and fantastic editing.
Other than that? The film is largely forgettable. I remember enjoying it while I was watching and was definitely invested in seeing it through to the end, but I couldn't tell you any other specifics. Neeson and Harris play well off each other but their showdown was anticlimactic. Oh and Common shows up as a hitman and it's like, WHAT? How did that happen? Ultimately, it's worth seeing if you happen to catch it on TV sometime.