Movie Roundup: Which of this month’s Blockbusters are Studs and which are Duds?

Godzilla 2014 Movie Poster

Captain America: The Winter Soldier more than whet my appetite for the onslaught of blockbusters in the month of May. The Godzilla trailer had me excited if it could be this summer’s apex predator while I was cautiously skeptical if Days of Future Past could be X-Men’s equivalent of the Avengers.

There are also some older films that I watched this past month, some of them I wouldn’t have heard of it wasn’t for recommendations from movie bloggers. I’ve included excerpts from the best blogger reviews I came across on all of these movies. Check out the full write up by clicking on the link and remember to follow those awesome blogs.

What do you think of this summer’s blockbusters so far? What is your favorite movie, new or old, you watched in May?


Amazing Spider-Man 2

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While the sequel is anything but amazing, there are some positives to take away. The chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone comes across really well on-screen.  I also liked how ASM2 embraced its comic-book roots, including Spidey retooling his web slinger to get the edge over the villain. ASM2 could have benefited from streamlining the number of plot threads and villains. The studio has it’s eye on setting up the Sinister Six spin-off but neglected to fully develop these villains into engaging, complex antagonists in this movie. The Average Spider-Man doesn’t have the same ring to it.


 Neighbors

Neighbors_(2014)_Poster

A raunchy, obscene, frat-boy comedy. If you’ve never been a fan of Seth Rogen’s brand of humour, Neighbors won’t change your opinion. But if you’re a fan like me, this comedy delivers some big laughs as the war between neighbours escalates into the absurd and the amusingly inane. Neighbors is about being afraid to grow up and avoiding adult responsibilities, something that perhaps many can identify with, even if everything else in the movie is fun, far-fetched silliness.


 Godzilla

Godzilla_(2014)_poster

Director Gareth Edwards has an eye for some very cool shots. I got goosebumps when Godzilla first roared in all his gargantuan glory and during the soldiers’ halo jump out of the plane into a cloud of dust & debris. Where Godzilla falls short are the lack of characters that I can invest in with exception of Bryan Cranston’s Joe Brody. Although I can suspend my disbelief for a monster flick to a certain degree, there are a number of logistical problems with the story that unfortunately mar a visually impressive blockbuster.


 The Act Of Killing

The_Act_of_Killing_(2012_film)

I first heard of this chilling, haunting documentary from Flixchatter. The title has multiple meanings, one of which is the film’s premise: a behind the scenes look at the re-enactment of killings by the perpetrators of the 1965-66 genocide in Indonesia where an estimated 500,000 to a million people perished. It’s quite astonishing to learn that the truth of these mass killings are unspoken or obscured from the Indonesian people and that the death squad leaders are revered as heroes. It’s an important yet difficult film to get through, I had to watch a light comedy right after to cleanse my thoughts before going to bed.


 The Hunt

The_Hunt_(2012_film)

This Danish film would have been completely off my radar if it wasn’t for many positive reviews from movie bloggers. The Hunt stars Mads Mikkelsen, best known as the Bond villain in Casino Royale and as television’s Hannibal Lecter . There’s a point in the movie where I wished Mads’ character would turn “Hannibal” by having some old friends for dinner because of the way he was unjustly demonized as a child abuser. But at the same time, the story unfolds in a terrifyingly plausible manner that we can’t fault the parents for acting out of fear and love for their children. In lesser hands, this could have come across as a TV movie of the week but a great lead actor performance, smart screenplay and solid direction elevate it to a very fine film.


 Monsters

MonstersUK

Before Godzilla (2014) there was Monsters (2010), the debut feature film from Gareth Edwards. It’s interesting to try to put my finger on what the studios saw in this low-budget sci-fi movie which made them believe Edwards is the right director for Godzilla. In Monsters, a deep space probe comes back to Earth and crashes in Mexico releasing an extra-terrestrial life form. Surprisingly, despite the movie title, this isn’t an alien invasion or monster movie in the strictest sense. It’s a decent drama with sci-fi elements featuring likeable characters who behave in a realistic manner.


Drinking Buddies

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After filming her scene in Spike Jonze’s Her, Olivia Wilde flew from China to Chicago to begin work on the indie relationship dramedy Drinking Buddies. Olivia Wilde and Jake Jackson play co-workers in a craft brewery who have strong chemistry but are both already tied-up in relationships with their significant others. The improv dialogue is fresh and natural, making these characters instantly feel like real people. The story is more like a slice of life – a getaway weekend, after work drinks with friends. Nothing momentous happens. There’s no ‘meet cute’ or any other romantic trope, if you’re open to that, Drinking Buddies is a refreshing flick.


 Blade Runner

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Recent reviews of The Machine, got me interested in re-watching Blade Runner, the movie it is compared with.  Based on the novel, “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?”, Blade Runner is a complex, methodically paced, sci-fi noir film.  The story is set in a dystopian future where androids called replicants are ‘more human than human’. Some of the themes are more apparent to me now on my second viewing. What makes us distinctly human? Is it our ability to empathize? Do our memories make us who we are or is it how we face our mortality? Although I appreciate the great directorial vision of Ridley Scott and recognize how influential this movie is, I can’t say that I’m emotionally invested in it.


 X-Men: Days Of Future Past

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Director Bryan Singer returns with the most ambitious and satisfying X-Men movie to date. Singer made a good decision to focus on a core group of mutants while for the most part effectively utilizing a huge supporting cast with Quicksilver as a stand out  The screenplay had depth, humour, inventive action scenes, and criss crossed through the timelines without it ever becoming confusing.  After developing the relationships between Xavier, Magneto and Mystique in First Class, I was very invested in their character arcs and interplay in this movie. While not at the level of greatness that is The Dark Knight or Avengers, DOFP is the best 2014 summer blockbuster so far.

 

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