Movie reviews



[Page published by Liviu, on Liviu's [Personal] Blog]

Starting 2015, instead of creating standalone posts with movie reviews only for the best of the movies I watch, I have created this page to contain short movie reviews even for the bad ones. Really good movies do get their own post, as it has happened so far. All others get indexed on this page, with shorter reviews, which is better than not being mentioned at all, as it has happened so far.


The Dark Tower (2017)

[IMDB; en.wikipedia]

Entertaining.
Fun at times.

Coherent storyline.

Average special effects.

Matthew McConaughey (as Walter Padick, the Man in Black) does a good part. Indeed, he could have done better and could have had more screen time.

However, the Man in Black character should have been more complex: it has the potential to be evil and funny, really ruin people's lives... McConaughey describes him best as "the Devil having a good time" [en.wikipedia: Randall Flagg], but the script fails to capture that essence :)

Idris Elba (as Roland Deschain) does a better part than I expected, he's a good counterpart for Matthew McConaughey.

Tom Taylor (as Jake Chambers) is the main character - everything gravitates around him, he does a good part, but I was more interested in Matthew McConaughey's and Idris Elba's acting, that drove me to the theatre :)

Claudia Kim (as Arra Champignon) delivers a short & refreshing part.

I wish the story to have been more complex and to have developed only around Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba...

You might watch it on TV and/or at home, there's no real need to go to the cinema.



Atomic Blonde (2017)

[IMDB; en.wikipedia]

Feels like a low budget (i.e. cheap) version of John Wick (review below).

Comparing it against other action movies with spies and action taking place during the Cold War (it's East & West Berlin, 1989, the days when the Wall falls)... makes the storyline feel boring and lacking coherence & consistency etc.
Quite a lot of cliches.
Some predictable twists and turns only occur in the end.

Delivers the action it promises.
Charlize Theron stars in almost all action scenes.
Average special effects, though.

They could have squeezed more & better acting from Charlize Theron - she does a much better job in The Fate of the Furious.

You could watch it on TV as well - there isn't any need to watch it on the big screen (i.e. at the cinema).

Feels like Charlize Theron is the new Angelina Jolie, but prettier :)

All in all, it's ok for a hot summer day - wouldn't have wanted to stress my brain with a complex storyline & awesome special effects, would I?



Dunkirk (2017)

[IMDB]

It just doesn't touch me, don't know why.

Other than that, it has excellent cinematography (excellent shot, beautiful landscapes, great post processing etc.), good acting, good soundtrack etc. Can't say anything bad about it...

Definitely to watch at the cinema.

It does not provide a classic and/or consistent storyline, but rather several story threads which nicely intertwine towards the end.

Might even get some Academy Awards nominations...

It ressembles Spielberg's War Horse (2011) [Liviu's review], which I like better :)



Alien: Covenant (2017)

[IMDB]

Quite fun, quite entertaining.
Quite a coherent script & storyline.
They could have done better, but it's ok.

One can see lots of aliens this time :)) - really, there are variations with respect to shape, age, size, color, behavior :))



The Fate of the Furious (2017)


Dedicated review / blog post.



Life (2017)


Dedicated review / blog post.



John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

[IMDB]

Action delivered as promised.

Quite a coherent script & storyline.
Well played.

+ bonus: the famous (emotionless) face & (hoarse) voice of Keanu Reeves :))



Logan

[IMDB]

Kind of depressing overall.

Liniar storyline - the story develops so slow that it never takes off for real.

Dull scenery & background.
Special effects are not so special, but rather average.
It all seems cheap.

Only a handful of fade characters.
... and a little girl screaming or displaying rage more than half of her screen time - very similar to War of the Worlds featuring Dakota Fanning screaming and acting hysterical most of her screen time.

Nevertheless, most viewers would probably find it decently entertaining.

All in all, it seems the owners of the franchise are eager to offload the current set of X-men characters and/or storyline.



Rings (2017)

[IMDB]

A bit scary, a bit bloody, but certainly... not bloody scary :)) - ha, ha, I'm so funny.
Too straightforward storyline.
A bit stupid at times, too.

Could have used some humour. - could this be my 2nd joke during this short review?

I used to rarely watch horror movies since I have rarely enjoyed them and for a little bit... I think all this is about to change.



Why Him? (2016)

[IMDB]

Funny, although somewhat stupid.

Terribly misleading regarding the "technology generation (and/or its subset of young entrepreneurs)" that I am part of. 1/3 of the jokes/ironies on their habits are good/funny, but the other 2/3 is fake/bullshit.

James Franco does a great part.
Keegan-Michael Key does a great part, too. I've watched him on YouTube in the Key and Peele series.
Zoey Deutch and Bryan Cranston - not so good, I wish other actors have been cast.

Go with low expectations and you shall enjoy it.



The Founder (2016)

[IMDB]

Nice. Well done.

Consistent & coherent storyline. More tension & drama would have been welcomed.

At some point Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) and Joan Smith (Linda Cardellini) both sing while playing the piano, and a bit later a third character joins their singing performance... can you believe it? 3 voices actually singing beautifully... whoa! this makes it better than the hyped La La Land (reviewed below). Indeed, I mean it: this singing performance alone beats La La Land.

Worth watching. I recommend it.



Collateral Beauty (2016)

[IMDB]

Dedicated review / blog post.



La La Land (2016)

[IMDB; en.wikipedia]

Nice. Entertaining.

They call it a musical... hmm...
  • Well, it has music, but mostly played.
  • The actors sing very little and quite badly - they seem to have no voice at all :)). Really. Ryan Gosling sings rather average (I'd give him a grade of 6/10), while Emma Stone sings poorly (4/10). Maybe the songs don't fit their voice, or they don't like them, dunno, but something is clearly wrong with their singing performance...
  • The actors try to dance, but show rather simple moves. It feels like they haven't repeated enough, since they don't always synchronize...

It feels like there's no chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

The movie tries hard to impress, but can't find its strength and/or killer feature and/or something truly entertaining to focus on.

The movie does a lot of ass kissing towards Hollywood and actors' dreams of success etc. - probably that's why it has been and shall be acclaimed by professional critics/reviewers?!

The great thing is that the story and the movie overall gets better and better towards the end (the last 1/4 of the movie), as if the whole team (starting with the scriptwriter :D) has finally learned what they need to do and do their thing well :)

Let me be clear on this, I totally loved the movie starting with the call from the casting company that Sebastian (Gosling) answers on behalf Mia (Stone). That's how the whole movie should have been given the actors' [lack of some :P] abilities :)
Ok, the opening scene is nice, too.

If I were to compare it against Chicago (2002) [IMDB], I'd say "Get real, Chicago beats the shit out of La La Land... Choose any song and/or any actor singing more than 30 seconds in Chicago and they beat all the performance displayed in La La Land".
I could say the same thing if I were to compare it against Grease (1978) [IMDB].

All in all, it's a nice watch, entertaining etc., but not as good as most professional reviews praise it to be - there's something very wrong with this image, really! :D and this one... and what's with all these awards? Well, I guess professional critics/reviewers know it better than I do...

Update 2017-03-06: it has received 14 Academy Awards nominations, out of which it has won 6... Congratulations! I guess me and the critics/professionals have to agree to disagree :)



Allied (2016)

[IMDB; en.wikipedia]

Designed to appeal all tastes.

It's a classic with respect to everything: storyline & story style, action, spy stories/games etc.
Although linear & predictable, the story develops nicely, keeps the viewer connected throughout the movie. It feels beautiful to watch, dunno.

Marion Cotillard does a great part, most likely she'll receive an Academy Award nomination.
The movie overall targets multiple Academy Award nominations.

Well done. Worth watching. I recommend it.



Nocturnal Animals (2016)

[IMDB]

Weird. A bit shocking at times.
May make the viewer feel uncomfortable and more tensed (rather than more relaxed/entertained) at the end.

A combination of European & American philosophy and/or storyline obsessions:
  • European: characters land in impossible situations, they get humiliated & crushed, they all are unhappy with their lives and/or loose any hope, sadness/pessimism is the norm etc.
  • American: justice prevails, there's sort of a happy end etc.

Might be too much to swallow for the average [member of the] public.



Snowden (2016)

[IMDB, en.wikipedia]

Nice.
Linear, yet entertaining.
Some may find it boring.

Far better than Sully (reviewed below); Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a better job than Tom Hanks. - I must make this comparison since both movies are based on real events.

All in all, time well spent.



Arrival (2016)

[IMDB]

Interesting approach.
Fresh perspective regarding a first contact with aliens - more plausible for the engineer that I am :))

However, the movie displays quite a lot of empty space and/or dead time - dunno, I've had this continuous feeling of waiting for something else/more to happen...

It kind of screws up regarding world politics:
  • the landing sites map is kind of a failure, if you ask me
    • the only major powers actively participating in the story are the US, China, Russia... and a tiny bit the not-so-major-power Australia
    • the other countries/territories (which are no powers whatsoever) involved are: Sierra Leone, Sudan, Venezuela, Greenland, Black Sea (really, that's what they call it, although it appears to be the Crimean Peninsula shown on map), Kashmir (I speculate that)... and 2 more that are not shown on map :))
    • there's no participation of other major powers: UK (although displayed as a landing site on map), France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Brazil, India (although Kashmir could be considered representing India and Pakistan :D), South Africa
  • tries to subtly promote the idea of global unity, sort of "all nations should live in peace and cooperate and share information... let's all act as one... bla, bla, bla" - ok, let's avoid a debate on that :)

All in all, a good watch.
Most likely shall receive an Academy Award nomination though I'm not sure it deserves it.



The Accountant (2016)

[IMDB]

Beautiful. Great.
[A bit] Different :) - you'll understand my joke once you watch it.

It deserves an Academy Award nomination.



Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)

[IMDB]

It delivers the action it promises in the trailer.

Quite a coherent & consistent story. It's good.
There are a couple of things that don't make sense and does have enough cliches, but hey! it's an action movie, right? :)
It only gets sentimental to keep the action going, thank you.

Must note the feeling that Tom Cruise is either getting old, or tired, or has not prepared enough for this part etc.



Inferno (2016)

[official site; en.wikipedia; IMDB]

All in all, it's ok, you might go watch it if you don't find anything better.

Fast paced.

There's enough action for the average viewer, but the Tom Hanks type of action :), not Tom Cruise style :)

The story is kind of straightforward, with a couple of twists and turns, but predictable over all.
However, you don't get bored during those 2 hours, which means they've done a pretty good job, right?

Designed to appeal an international audience. You'll understand when you watch it, no need to throw spoilers here.

Somehow, the magic is missing, there's no fun in the story, everyone feels stressed etc. Ok, they're saving the world, but why so serious? :))

Nota bene: Vayentha is played by Ana Ularu [IMDB], a Romanian actress. She fits in perfectly, does her part great etc., which means the cause for bad/stupid Romanian movies is not the actors, but someone and/or something else: writers, directors, producers, post processing etc.

When it comes to solving mysteries and puzzles etc., I'd rather watch any of the 2 from the National Treasure film series [en.wikipedia] starring Nicolas Cage, than any of the Robert Langdon / Da Vinci Code film series [en.wikipedia].



Hell or High Water (2016)


Dedicated review / blog post.



Mechanic: Resurrection (2016)

[IMDB]

They could have done a much better job for sure.

The movie drags (and gets boring) quite often.
Nevertheless, there probably is quite enough action for the average viewer, but I would have preferred more.

Why on Earth have they developed the love story? and why waste screen time with that boring stuff?
This should be an action movie, with no interest in "real acting", love stories, coherent scripts etc. We want the action and just that, ok?
Btw, Jessica Alba does a poor acting job even for the low standards of an action movie :))

The first Mechanic [IMDB] was fun, entertaining, had the right characters (good guys, bad guys) etc.
So, watch the first movie of the series and that's it!

All in all, one could easily find a better movie to watch.
Oh, wait a bit: I wouldn't want to be in your shoes if you had to choose between Mechanic: Resurrection and Sully :))



Sully (2016)

[IMDB]

Predictable.
No twists and turns, no feelings, no emotions, nothing intense. All linear.
Neither the storyline, nor the actors did not touch me.

Boring.

My advice to writers & director & producers et. al.: whenever you try to portrait a hero, but do not have enough material for a movie (or you do, but don't want to upset some parties by making a good & incisive etc. drama), try making a documentary instead, ok? It would honor both the hero and help people remember him.

All in all, one could easily find a better movie to watch.



Me Before You (2016)

[IMDB]

You should be glad if you fail to understand it.



Money Monster (2016)

[IMDB]

An average Clooney movie. I mean, Clooney can do a lot better and certainly has done so in the past.

Other than that, it's ok, quite entertaining, well paced, with a consistent & coherent script etc. Worth watching, yes, as long as you don't expect any magic from Clooney.



Now You See Me 2 (2016)

[official site; IMDB; en.wikipedia]

Funny. Entertaining.

Lots of twists and turns, most of them quite predictable, but entertaining nevertheless.

Regarding his future acting career, I'd say Woody Harrelson pulls the rabbit out of the hat or plays the ace up his sleeve - hey, I just want to stay in the spirit of the movie, ok? :) - by also playing his crazy & half-evil twin brother. He needs a career boost and this double part might be exactly the thing...

Michael Caine (as bad guy) and Morgan Freeman (as bad guy, but turns out to be a good guy in the end) in the same movie, can you believe it? :) ...and sharing the screen for a brief moment! :)

...and Daniel Radcliffe is back from the dead or from wherever he's been hiding :)) and he's a bad guy also. :)

Definitely worth watching.



The Nice Guys (2016)

[IMDB; en.wikipedia]

Very funny.
Consistent story.
Crowe and Gosling do a great job.

All in all, time well spent. Definitely worth watching.



Triple 9 (2016)

[IMDB; en.wikipedia]

Street life.
Lots of crimes.
Survival of the fittest criminal - sounds weird, I know.
Or just "outmonster the monster".

May give one a bitter taste in the mouth, therefore protest through a politically correct (i.e. stupid) remark like "oh, they're racist here, taking sides there etc."
Sorry, mates, sometimes our society is just screwed up, things go the wrong way...

I expected more nerve, more violence...
There is plenty of violence, indeed, but it's kind of disguised, not very explicit or direct, probably to receive a rating for some minors under 18, dunno.

Nobody's clean / perfect, or playing by the book till the end.
Ok, Chris (Casey Affleck's character) stays innocent till the end. He very elegantly tricks the kid-future-criminal by threatening to seize his gun in order to extract some information. In the end, Detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson) shots Rodriguez, but given the storyline till then, Chris should have pulled the trigger...

Funny enough, it is slow paced overall, but has some rapid action scenes from now and then. Again, just like life.
So, some may find it boring, indeed, but it resonates with me.

All in all, a good watch for those with a taste for such things and who understand their logic. Definitely recommend it.



Deadpool (2016)


Dedicated review / blog post.



The Revenant (2015)

[IMDB]

Great/Beautiful representation of the strong instincts of survival and revenge.

There's not much of a story, but rather a linear story which develops slowly.
Therefore, some may find it boring... or use it as a substitute to sleeping pills :)
I so much love such a storyline style...

Worth watching. I recommend it.

Same sense of (too much? :D) perfection / lack of magic as in "Bridge of Spies".

12 Oscar nominations [en.wikipedia]. Maybe a bit too many, but definitely deserves several.



The Big Short (2015)


Dedicated review / blog post.



The 5th Wave (2016)

[IMDB]

Falls in the increasingly popular genre of movies featuring teenagers fighting against/for something, e.g. The Hunger Games series, The Maze Runner series, Divergent series, Twilight series, Harry Potter series etc.

The story develops in such a manner that at the end they are more anxious about making a sequel than a teenager is about their first date :)

Everything is average quality: average storyline, average acting, average special effects etc.

Certainly better than Spectre, must emphasize on that.

Go with low expectations, as I've gone, and it's ok.



The Hateful Eight (2015)

[IMDB]

Beautiful. Well done.
The kind of movie that one enjoys watching, just like one enjoys hearing a good story that one may not want to end. Really, those 160 minutes (i.e. 2h 40mins) pass in no time.

Good screenplay based on an almost coherent & consistent story.
Good acting, image, sound etc.

Since it's Quentin Tarantino... there's quite a lot of blood on screen for short moments of time, from now and then, you know how he does it, it's kind of his signature or something...

It also has some magic in some weird and hard to explain sense, as opposed to "Bridge of Spies" regarding which I objected the lack of magic (see below).

Got 3 Oscar nominations [en.wikipedia]. Fair.



Spectre (2015)

[IMDB]

A waste of time and money.



Bridge of Spies (2015)

[IMDB]

Nice, entertaining overall. Does drag a bit at times, but it's ok.

It follows all rules (written and unwritten) of moviemaking, nicely re-implements cliches, delivers a good quality etc. with respect to all parameters of a movie: image, sound, makeup, discrete special effects, script/story coherence etc. Anything you can think of - it is good, well done.

Actors deliver a good performance throughout the movie etc.

...BUT there's no magic! Really, I simply have not felt any magic. Everything is too well done, basically everyone is a pro in what they do, so there are no mistakes, no debatable decisions etc. Indeed, no magic - that's my only objection to it.

It probably aims Oscar nominations, and might also win some. - What can I say? The current international political status quo shall help this movie for sure :)

Update 2016-01-17: 6 Oscar nominations [en.wikipedia], including Best Picture.



Le tout nouveau testament (2015)
(en: The Brand New Testament)


Dedicated review / blog post.



Burnt (2015)

[IMDB]

The first half is fast paced and focuses on the chef's professional life.
I have totally enjoyed it.

The second half is kind of slow paced, sentimental, focuses on the chef as a human being etc.
I kept hoping that at some point it would change back to something resembling the first half, but it did not... :)

One could swear that the movie has a different pair of directors and writers for each half... well, that's how much different the 2 halves seem to me, at least...

All in all, a good watch. A good choice. Time well spent.

Oh, one more thing: you should definitely watch Limitless (2011) [IMDB], starring the same Bradley Cooper - it's much more entertaining, offers more motivation, it's what I have hoped this movie would also be, but it has not quite been.



Legend (2015)

[IMDB]

Entertaining, interesting, nice & discrete special effects, funny at times.
Well played. Basically, it's all about Tom Hardy, since he plays both of the twin brothers... might even get nominated at Oscar for that, dunno.
Well done, overall.

However, I've had this feeling that the story drags at times.
Also, the story develops kind of linear. Almost no magic, very little drama, no major twists and turns that I can remember etc.
It's like there's something missing, but I can't exactly put my finger on it...

A good watch, nevertheless.



Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

[IMDB]

The sequel of the 2014 The Maze Runner [IMDB].

The first part has had more twists and turns, a more interesting storyline etc.
The second part has more action, at the cost of delivering a linear (i.e. boring) storyline (even if one sleeps half the time, they still understand what's happening because there's almost no story).

Comparing the 2nd and 1st parts of The Maze trilogy is like comparing Matrix Reloaded (2003) [IMDB] against The Matrix (1999) [IMDB]. Same storyline pattern, same feeling, same levels of action etc.

Anyway, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is a good watch, but I personally expected more.



Hitman: Agent 47

[IMDB]

Quite a lot of action, although I expected even more :)

The story is simple and quite coherent, BUT the action scenes do not seem glued well together. I constantly had that feeling that the movie is made of bits and pieces badly glued together, instead of a continuous entertaining flow.

It is a good watch, but one may find something better at cinema and save this for TV.



The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

[IMDB]

Funny enough to be a funny action movie, but not a comedy, which is good news.

Coherent & Consistent storyline.

Worth watching, good choice.



Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)

[IMDB]

Action packed, special effects, twists and turns etc.

Indeed, another Tom Cruise Hollywood blockbuster... well done! Oh, well, what would you want more? :))

Ah, the Ilsa character (played by Rebecca Ferguson)... that's a very nice surprise!



Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

[IMDB]

Lots of special effects, of course.

Surprisingly, the story does not feel as consistent as I expected it. Also drags at times. It's like the script had been written and/or changed at times by various authors.

I'd advise you to choose something else, if you have any other options, since they might be better.



Tomorrowland (2015)

[IMDB]

Interesting & funny.
Indeed, the story line drags at times, therefore might be considered somewhat boring.

I felt frustrated the first 85% of the time, because I couldn't put the pieces together - really, I couldn't understand what was going on there and/or how the pieces of the puzzle would eventually fit together...
When it finally became obvious what Frank had invented and why Nix had exiled him (Spoiler: in order to use his invention for evil stuff! :D) etc., I could enjoy the movie to the full. Unfortunately, it was almost over.

I liked it, although I admit many people shall either get bored, or dislike it.



Furious 7 (2015)

[IMDB]

Lots of special effects.

Quite a consistent & coherent story line, but really, who would go to Fast & Furious for the story? :) Just bring on the special effects and the popcorn...

Definitely worth watching and definitely at the cinema, on the big screen.

Jason Statham - great choice as Deckard Shaw! The man rules. He kicks the asses of both muscle packs characters Dom (Vin Diesel) and Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson).
Hobbs enters the hospital after losing the fight and only gets out towards the end :)
Dom gets very close to losing against him a couple of times. Dom wins eventually because the other bad guy Jakande fires a missile into the car park roof portion Shaw is standing on... but he does not die, just gets caught and imprisoned by Hobbs.
To be honest, this is the best part I've seen Statham doing ever, he really shines.



Get Hard (2015)

[IMDB]

Pretty good. Certainly better than I expected :)

I couldn't believe my ears when I heard references to Shakespeare (it mentions Macbeth at some point, omg!), Roman/Greek Mythology (I mean, it mentions Ulysses, omg!)... Adults below 30 years should have been restricted from watching stuff like that :))



Focus (2015)

[IMDB]

Nice, entertaining, worth watching.

Drags a bit in the middle, taking too much preparing and/or explaining the final scam.

Will Smith is ok.
Margot Robbie did a better part in "Wolf of Wall Street".

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