Her



Hell is having to explain the movie Her to somebody. A man falling in love with an operating system is definitely a bizarre premise and by all accounts makes Her a weird film, but there’s more to it than the surface level would lead you on to believe. It’s a wonderful commentary on human relationships as well as our rapidly changing technology and the way we incorporate it into our day-to-day lives. It also weaves a simple yet moving love story to accentuate the new ways we are meeting our emotional needs with technology. There’s so much warmth and beauty to this film that it has stuck with me since I first saw it this past Monday and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite movies.

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Unable to move forward with his divorce, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) has slowly become a lonely introvert shielding himself away from society. Silently reaching out for some sort of connection Theodore eventually buys a new product called OS One. OS One is a personalized A.I. assistant designed to adapt and evolve into a more human like companion. Theodore chooses a female OS named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) as his companion and together the two help teach other learn about life, dealing with the complexity of emotions, and finding happiness.

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It’s a never-ending debate on whether or not technology is hurting or helping the way we interact with each other. We’ve never been more readily connected than we are now and yet there’s still a sense of detachment, especially in face-to-face communication. I’ve seen lasting friendships made through online communities and I’ve seen stories of malicious deception through online anonymity. Her takes this debate and provides us with a smart, funny, and often awkward look on both sides. The film opens up with Theodore going through the various different ways we use technology to connect with others but illustrating the emotional disconnect without the personal touch. From online chat rooms, video games, and automated news feed, Theodore wanders aimlessly through his life. He’s searching for some connection but each readily available avenue doesn’t provide him with the satisfaction he is looking for, as is evidently seen with his late night chat room partner.  Enter in Samantha. Together Samantha and Theodore hit it off far more than any of the other contrasting human relationships in the film. On paper the two are perfect for each other despite the fact that Samantha is a computer.

The biggest and obvious challenge the film faces is getting you to buy into this strange relationship. Personally it works for me largely due to the wonderful chemistry between Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. The conversations are playful and fun and the sense of happiness the two bring to the screen is undeniably warm. Scarlett Johansson especially brings Samantha to life with nothing more than her voice. The sheer range of pure emotion she brings to Samantha is pleasant and incredibly soothing. I found myself really invested not only in the living breathing Theodore but also the artificial Samantha. Her progression from an enthusiastic AI to something far more emotionally complex is interesting and served as a nice compliment to Theodore’s journey to understand his emotions. Joaquin Phoenix gives a great performance as well. He really captures the isolated sadness his character faces all while providing a warm sense of optimism. Both Johansson and Phoenix work in tandem to create a melancholy but beautiful look at human relationships and helps the film capture a true sense of love. Not just the romantic lovey dovey everything is perfect aspect but also the fears, the insecurities, and jealousy as well. By including this less than glamorous look into something as complex as love, the film impresses the rewarding experience of sharing your life with someone. Needless to say the film sold me on their relationship and it only opened up more interesting questions.

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I remember thinking it was strange how matter of factly some people accepted this bizarre relationship, especially when Theodore and Samantha would be out and talking in public. However, in this near futuristic setting where professional companies are created to write personal love letters for others it makes all the sense in the world. It took me a second to realize how disengaged others often were in the public settings yet still communicating with their own devices. To them Samantha and Theodore are no different, if they even stopped to take notice at all. It really showcases the similarities to the way we are today whether it’s through long distant relationships or purely Internet based relationships in both a romantic and non-romantic sense. We’re constantly bombarded with notifications from social networks, texts, and emails, all while holding extensive phone conversations with seemingly no one. It really showcases the film’s ideas looking ahead at the evolution of human relationships and how obsessed we are with technology.

Sure what Samantha and Theodore have is strange, but who’s to say we’re not that far off? To quote a soon to be over quoted line from the movie, “Falling in love is a crazy thing to do. It’s kind of like a form of socially acceptable insanity.” Samantha and Theodore found their own sense of joy so what’s it to others as long as they’re happy? They seemingly meet each other’s needs emotionally and are helping each other learn new things. Although the film does a good job of showing both sides of the argument it eventually tips it’s hat on how it feels in the end and I think it serves as a wonderful litmus test for your own feelings, which is what makes this film great.

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Without going into too much detail the film begins to capture the painful fall out of any relationship. It’s wonderful that although this film is first and foremost a love story it manages to include a very thoughtful sci-fi narrative on artificial intelligence as well. As things begin to take a turn for the worst the film begins to shed light on its personal feelings about emotional needs. I’m always amazed at how we strive to imitate such human nuanced responses in machines but I highly doubt we’ll ever reach a point where it becomes the alternative. My feelings with technology and relationships seems to fall in line with the films in that although it can be a wonderful thing we still need that elusive human element to reciprocate true happiness. Like anything there needs to be a balance in the way we handle our relationships and the way we handle our technology. It was nice to see the film shed light on the way the OS One adoption was spreading through their society. People were interacting with their own personal AIs in a variety of different ways to meet a variety of different needs. There’s room for this technology to aid us in connecting with others and learning about ourselves but the moment it becomes an escape to hide away from facing our problems or pure instant gratification is the moment it becomes just a hollow experience.

As I said early the hardest job this movie faces is getting you to accept the idea of falling in love with an OS. Playing the devil’s advocate here, it’s a tough pill to swallow that will leave you unengaged and most likely repulsed by the absurdity. On the outside looking in it is such a weird concept and most of the drama and tension evaporates under this silly premise, leaving it wide open for unintentional humor. It doesn’t help that the idea of being absorbed by our technology isn’t exactly fresh grounds either. It’s a constant debate that’s has been beaten to death going in circles. However, if you can set aside your feelings and buy in for just a moment, you’ll be rewarded with a love story that is far more thoughtful and speaks more about love and human relationships than most traditional romance films.

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If you couldn’t tell I really loved the movie Her. On top of the thought provoking ideas the film provides it also creates such beautiful imagery. It’s a wonderfully colorful film with perfectly timed music creating an almost dreamlike perfect day. On the surface it seems to borrow just about every cliché moment from any indie feel good movie ever but it’s in its execution and knowing when to use these moments that make the film stand out.

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In addition to Scarlett Johansson and Joaquin Phoenix, the film also features a sincere performance from Amy Adams who provides a heartfelt friendship to Theodore. Although it’s understated, Amy’s story mirrors Theodore’s in finding happiness. Amy’s journey and search for emotional reciprocation is a nice contrast to Theodore’s and shows the non-romantic side of emotional needs. Overall it’s such a warm movie and I’ve left the theater in a euphoric state and the glow has stayed with me since. If you’ll allow me to gush for a second it’s movie that really conveys the happiness about being alive and being in love. There’s a lot of depth to this film and it’s a great conversation to have.

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Interested in writing reviews or news posts for Thinking Cinematic? Contact me at ThinkCinematicReviews@gmail.com! You can also send your guest reviews there too!

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @TreyRSolis
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic
Email: ThinkCinematicReviews@Gmail.com

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Reviews: Hobbit, Wolf of Wall Street, Catching Fire and More


Long time no see! Reviews have been irregular lately but I wanted to start 2014 with an easy round up to get back on track. I’ve seen a lot of movies over the past few months and I wanted to write down a few quick thoughts on each one. Moving forward the review schedule will be a lot more lax than it used to be but I’m aiming to get back to writing more than I have these last four months. Somewhere along the way I felt like these reviews became very mechanical and emotionless which got away from what I really loved. I want to dial it back and focus less on formality and more on writing about films I enjoy. Anyway, here we go. First up, Ender’s Game.

Ender’s Game

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Ender’s Game was a major disappoint for me. The two weeks leading up to the film’s release I read the novel and was instantly hooked. I fell in love with the characters and was immersed in the constant struggles Ender faced. The movie does away with a lot of this struggle and instead focuses more on flashy action scenes. The battle room, which served as a major chunk of the novel, is skimmed over rather quickly along with all the relationships Ender cultivated with his time there. I never got the sense of Ender becoming the respected leader he was in the books. Also the dynamic between Bonzo and Ender is completely ruined due to a rather unfortunate casting choice that causes far more unintentional humor than it should. Simply put, the film hits the high points that were in the book but without the proper time to breathe it felt like a waste of time amounting to nothing more than popcorn fluff. I wish I could remember the Reddit user to give them proper credit but they summed it up perfectly. The Ender’s Game movie is as good an adaptation as watching someone’s vacation slideshow is a good vacation.

Thor: The Dark World

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Thor: The Dark World was satisfyingly entertaining, far more so than Iron Man 3. It was nice to get a deeper look at Asgard and how that side of the universe lives. The movie started off a little slow for me but it definitely picked up once Thor and Loki partnered up. My only concern is the film’s understandable love affair with Loki. Despite their dynamic stealing the show and being the source of the film’s fun, I felt like the film dropped all other aspects of the story to showcase them. I like Loki enough that I don’t want his character to outstay his welcome. For what it is though, Thor: The Dark World is a solid action film. I was a little surprised how much the early parts of the film reminded me of the Star Wars Prequels, in a good way of course.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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I was caught off guard with how much I enjoyed The Hunger Games when it first released in 2012. It was a decent film and covered enough of the books for me to be happy with it. Although my interest in the film didn’t make it through all the books, specifically the third entry, my interest was still piqued for the films. Catching Fire is an incredible follow up to The Hunger Games and delivers on intense action guided by strong performances. I was impressed with Catching Fire’s ability to incite so much anxiety within me, particularly in a scene involving a swarm of Jabber Jays that did a wonderful job of conveying great panic.

One of my complaints with the first film is the way it got away with a lot of the violence by quick cutting before a character died. It was somewhat of an understandable distraction but it was still off-putting nonetheless. Catching Fire’s strength this time around is the fact that the dangers Katniss faces is more elemental based than combat based allowing for the film to be more lenient with its violence and action. It was a much more immersive experience for me this time around it made the film a lot more enjoyable. Doubt it’ll convert any new fans but it’s definitely worth the time for those who already bought in the first go around.

Frozen

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Frozen was far more enjoyable than I expected and I happily ate crow for all my previous doubts. It’s a great throwback to traditional Disney musicals and features an impressive track of catchy songs, some of which I may or may not have had on repeat in my car for days after. The story plays wonderfully on old Disney princess tropes and provides a nice message for young audiences. It’s a simple story but the execution is charming enough to be entertaining for all ages. The animation itself is wonderfully done and features incredibly beautiful scenery. I wasn’t completely sold on the character models themselves, which at times felt too clean like they were something straight out of a direct to DVD Barbie movie. However this could have been a creative choice, as the character models feel more natural as the movie progresses further into its adventures outside the fairy tale setting. If you’re a fan of animation, especially old Disney films, than this film is a must see film.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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I’ve been conflicted on my feelings for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug for quite a while. The same old song and dance is that the decision to split this simple story into three films would be too much of a good thing. The Jackson Lord of the Rings fan boy in me was thrilled for a new trilogy but it’s never been more evident than with Desolation of Smaug that this may not have been the right choice after all. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time with Desolation of Smaug but it’s far from a film I would recommend to anyone. It feels like a series of inside jokes or stories that fans will enjoy but for everyone else it feels like it spends a lot of time accomplishing nothing.

The biggest crime the film commits is the gradual shift in focus from Bilbo to the dwarves almost completely. It’s somewhat understandable given that the Dwarves’ quest translates more to exciting cinema than Bilbo’s story but it’s only frustrating when the film decides to spend it’s screen time on superfluous subplots instead. The Legolas, Kili, and Tauriel love triangle is completely unnecessary, especially given the fact that we’re rushed through great moments from the book like Beorn’s House, Mirkwood, and the Wood Elves prison. It’s just a shame that for a movie called The Hobbit, the time we spend with the hobbit has slowly diminished. Overall it’s a narrative mess that feels like it’s obviously been spread way to thin.  Despite these troubling decisions, the film more than makes up for it with the outstanding River Barrel scene and it’s wonderful depiction of Smaug.

Smaug in particular is truly a great spectacle and is the series greatest animated character since Gollum. The dragon is emanating with power and ferocity that commands your attention every second he’s on screen. The dialogue between Bilbo and Smaug is wonderfully playful and conveys such a great sense of power Smaug holds over Bilbo. The film (surprise surprise) takes liberties with the Lonely Mountain scenes but by that point I was more than willing to forgive it and enjoy the ride. As enjoyable as these films are, in the end I can’t help but wish for a tighter film that focuses more on adapting The Hobbit than being inspired by it.

The Wolf of Wall Street

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The Wolf of Wall Street is vile, unapologetic, and downright immoral, but I loved every second of it. It’s definitely not a film for the faint of heart but if you’re willing to join the ride it’s an incredibly bizarre trip. Sex, drugs and alcohol dominates the life of Jordan Belfort and watching the slow descent into depravity and madness is a train wreck that you can’t look away from. The film’s humor is definitely dark and often reaches such ridiculous levels that you can’t help but burst out laughing. American greed through the eyes of Scorsese is extremely uncomfortable and brutally savage. Leonardo DiCaprio gives an absolutely remarkable performance that blurs the line of insanity and absurdity, undeniably making Jordan Belfort DiCaprio’s craziest character yet. Jonah Hill also delivers a wonderful performance that shows the actors incredible range of talent. Hill and DiCaprio share a wonderful on screen dynamic that is the heart of the film’s humor.

The thing I loved the most about this film is the way it’s able to bring the audience crashing down to reality no matter how bizarre the rampant drug fueled escapades ran out of control. There’s such a stark contrast between the seemingly invincible wolves of Wall Street and the real world people that they’re affecting as well as the real danger that they’re putting themselves through. It’s these brief reminders throughout the film that provides a quick realistic glimpse of the self-centered protagonist that the film seemingly shines a glamorous light on. It’s a subtle touch but it’s the point of the film that there is no moral compass here. We’re supposed to be upset and bothered by the film.

I’ll concede the movie isn’t for everyone though. Much like Jordan Belfort, the movie doesn’t know when to quit. I felt like the film could be trimmed down to make a tighter movie, and the excessive narration can feel a little spoon-fed at times. The Wolf of Wall Street may end up being my guilty pleasure, but it’s a film that more than deserves your time at least once. Oh, and trust me when I say this film earns it’s hard R rating.

Interested in writing reviews or news posts for Thinking Cinematic? Contact me at ThinkCinematicReviews@gmail.com! You can also send your guest reviews there too!

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @TreyRSolis
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic
Email: ThinkCinematicReviews@Gmail.com

Prisoners


Summary:

Dark, captivating, and frightening, Prisoners is an experience worth seeing. Prisoners features a religious subtext that does a great job of being present without being overtly in your face. Hugh Jackman’s performance as Keller Dover is incredibly powerful and flips between disturbing and sympathetic. The anguish he feels over the loss of his child is wonderfully portrayed on screen and the road it takes us on is dark and twisted. Aside from Jackman’s and Gyllenhaal’s characters the rest of the cast feels like an afterthought and aren’t given fleshed out characters to work with. It may not be perfectly woven but there’s enough there to maintain investment and keep the audience glued to the screen. It’s definitely a performance driven film and on that alone it succeeds as a highly entertaining movie.

I’ve had my eye on Prisoners for quite a while. Although crime thrillers generally tend to follow a predictable pattern, Prisoners came out swinging with some pretty intense performance in just the trailer alone. Now having seen the movie I can say that Prisoners is definitely an entertaining movie and a much-welcomed treat in this otherwise dry spell at the theaters. Dark, captivating, and frightening, Prisoners is an experience worth seeing.

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When the daughter of Keller Dover goes missing, the devout family man is forced to do what ever is necessary to bring his daughter back. Feeling the cops are limited in their power, Dover takes matters into his own hands and begins following his own leads. With the pressure mounting and precious time passing, Keller Dover discovers just how far he’s willing to go to protect his family.

There’s a lot to appreciate here, but I’m going to start off with the negatives just to get it out of the way first. My biggest complaint with Prisoners is the lack of characterization for most of the characters, especially given the two and half hour run time. The movie feels so deeply focused on Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), and Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) that the rest of the cast feels like an afterthought. Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard) and his family are hardly used, despite having the great potential to serve as contrast to Keller Dover and his approach to finding his daughter. Even the Dover family is hardly touched on aside from a few scenes with a depressed bed ridden Grace Dover (Maria Bello). The families’ reactions feel so glossed over that I felt like we never really got the chance to know these characters. Even Detective Loki , despite a fantastic performance by Gyllenhaal, leaves something to be desired. The movie hints at his past career but we are never given anything substantial to chew on.

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Now the end of the film isn’t a negative aspect but I feel like it’ll be a very controversial ending, especially given the audience’s reaction in my theater. The film places the ending on the audience to fill in the gaps for themselves. For the most part it’ll work if you’re a bit forgiving but I feel as though the religious subtext and character progression needed to be handled a bit smoother for us to buy into the ending. Now it’s hard to go over this without potentially giving away spoilers so for the cautious I suggest skipping over the next two paragraph. The first will be discussed in vague terms but the second will be full blown spoilers.

Prisoners features a religious subtext that does a great job of being present without being overtly in your face. The morally ambiguous decisions Keller faces conflicts with his religious beliefs and he must choose how far he’s willing to go to save his daughter. By the end of the film though not everything is wrapped up nicely and it’s left up to the viewer to fill in the gaps that it seems that the writers weren’t too sure how to fill in themselves. The question is then left in the audience’s hands to decide whether or not Keller had gone too far and if redemption is possible. The ultimate question here though is asking what would you do in Keller’s position? It’s definitely something to chew on and I normally enjoy ambiguous endings like these but in Prisoner’s case I feel like this could have been handled a little better. Although I applaud the subtext for not being cumbersome, I do feel that the film glosses over the stripping of Keller’s religious beliefs in a speedy fashion. I think given the time to show Keller’s transition would have helped to have guided the ending a little better and left a more satisfied response from the audience.

Major Story Spoilers

And if you delve even further into the spoilers the ending comes up somewhat hollow. We eventually learn that the kidnapper’s motives are due to a personal war against God. After losing their own child they kidnap and murder other children to force parents to lose their faith and turn into demons like them. Now, the ending of the film finds Keller trapped in the kidnapper’s secret bunker. The children have been found but Keller’s whereabouts remains unknown. The final scene ends with Detective Loki at the crime scene with an excavation crew digging around for more evidence. As they’re leaving Loki believes to hear a whistle being blown by Keller from underground, but isn’t entirely sure. He begins to leave and he hears the whistle one last time before the film cuts to black. To me this feels hollow because if we are to believe that Keller never makes it out of the bunker then he never realizes that his daughter is safe and has been found. However, if we are to believe that he is found and then reunited with his daughter it seems as though the kidnapper’s war with god is a victory given all that Keller has done, legal repercussions aside that is. Again this is the question that the film asks of you but I feel like the choices we are given in this this choose your own adventure story feels like it messes with the film thematically.

End Major Story Spoilers.

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Now that being said, Prisoners still manages to overcome these obstacles based on performances alone. Even with thin characters the actors bring together an authenticity to them that would otherwise not be felt. Hugh Jackman’s performance as Keller Dover is incredibly powerful and flips between disturbing and sympathetic. The anguish he feels over the loss of his child is wonderfully portrayed on screen and the road it takes us on is dark and twisted. Jake Gyllenhaal also gives us a wonderful performance alongside Jackman. Gyllenhaal brings an ever-building frustration to his performance that depicts his turmoil between abiding by the law and stopping at nothing to find these girls. It allows for some intense explosions of anger and the performance is outstanding.  Finally, Paul Dano’s performance is absolutely stunning and brings so much to the screen while saying so little. His performance is creepy, saddening, and overall captivating. I couldn’t help but feel both sorry for and disturbed by Dano anytime he was on screen.

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The film itself is beautifully shot in a gloomy way and captures the looming feeling of dread. There’s a constant state of despair throughout the movie and it allows for some truly frightening moments. Although not necessarily a horror movie, there are scenes in the film that completely caught me off guard and had me jumping in my seat. The film threads the story along wonderfully and watching everything tie together at the end is enjoyable. It may not be perfectly woven but there’s enough there to maintain investment and keep the audience glued to the screen.  When Prisoner’s only fault is wanting to know more about the characters then it’s definitely a good problem to have. It’s definitely a performance driven film and on that alone it succeeds as a highly entertaining movie.

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Dark, captivating, and frightening, Prisoners is an experience worth seeing. Prisoners features a religious subtext that does a great job of being present without being overtly in your face. Hugh Jackman’s performance as Keller Dover is incredibly powerful and flips between disturbing and sympathetic. The anguish he feels over the loss of his child is wonderfully portrayed on screen and the road it takes us on is dark and twisted. Aside from Jackman’s and Gyllenhaal’s characters the rest of the cast feels like an afterthought and aren’t given fleshed out characters to work with. It may not be perfectly woven but there’s enough there to maintain investment and keep the audience glued to the screen. It’s definitely a performance driven film and on that alone it succeeds as a highly entertaining movie.

Interested in writing reviews or news posts for Thinking Cinematic? Contact me at ThinkCinematicReviews@gmail.com! You can also send your guest reviews there too!

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @Treyrs20o9
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic
Email: ThinkCinematicReviews@Gmail.com

Riddick (2013)


Summary:

Riddick features a lot of badass, if not cheesy, moments that are the standard with anti-hero films. Even though it walks the fine line between awesome and ridiculous, it’s often enjoyable thanks to Vin Diesel’s performance. The action is cathartically visceral and impressively choreographed, with just enough one-liners thrown in to keep it feeling fluid. The resolutions to the film are absolutely hollow, and characters undergo unbelievable change without any sort of catalyst. Dialogue isn’t the smartest, characters aren’t the deepest, and the story isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s an honest effort that botches a few steps here or there. Audiences that can appreciate one-liners and over the top action for coolness sake will find something to enjoy here, but Riddick (2013) will have a hard time breaking out of its cult following.

Hello and welcome back! Took a few weeks vacation time to regroup but now it’s back to the grind. This week we’re starting back up with the latest movie release, Riddick! I remember going to see The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) in theaters but it didn’t leave a very memorable impression for me and never coaxed me into starting from the beginning with Pitch Black (2000). Going into Riddick (2013) I decided to keep a relatively fresh palate and just catch up with the series with quick plot summaries. Walking out of the theater I was satisfied with my expectations but Riddick is far from a wholesome experience.

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Picking up five years after The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), Riddick once again finds himself betrayed and stranded on a desolate planet. Feeling he has lost sight of his savage animal instinct, he returns to his roots by living off the unforgiving planet. However, when a severe thunderstorm threatens to awaken a horde of scorpion like monsters, Riddick has no choice but to activate an emergency beacon, alerting a group of nearby bounty hunters.

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Riddick features a lot of badass, if not cheesy, moments that are the standard with anti-hero films. Even though it walks the fine line between awesome and ridiculous, it’s often enjoyable thanks to Vin Diesel’s performance. It’s the over the top action we’ve come to know and love Vin Diesel for, and Riddick is no exception. The surrounding cast also helps keep up the fun nature, often delivering nice comedic relief during tense moments. A couple of my notable favorites were Dave Bautista (The Man with the Iron Fists) and Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galatica), even though Sackhoff’s character Dahl had so little to work with but more on that later.

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The film gets off to a rather slow start but gradually picks up. Its slow pace can make the film feel like a drag at times but once it gets into the stealthier parts of the film the slow crawl only adds to the tension. The action is cathartically visceral and impressively choreographed, with just enough one-liners thrown in to keep it feeling fluid. The various different monsters on the abandoned planet all sport neat designs and are menacingly fun to watch on screen. They serve as wonderful enemies for Riddick to face and each face off is as thrilling as the last. Visually the film dips here and there, but for a low budget Sci-Fi/Action film it makes the most with what it has. It won’t blow people away but it supplies enough mindless action to satisfy action junkies.

As a relative newcomer to the series, Riddick does a well enough job of standing on it’s own, filling you in with just enough details to cover for the first two films. Its simple story works to the benefit of the movie and helps keep the focus on the action and suspension. I almost feel as though Riddick (2013) is a spiritual remake of Pitch Black (2000) due the derivative feel of the film. There are a lot of similarities between the two movies and the addition of a major character that has a special history with Riddick helps show the parallels.

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Characters don’t always make the most logical choices and the believability comes into question here or there, but for the most part the first two acts are solid for what it is. The third act is where I find my biggest complaints for the film, mainly due to the rushed nature of the conclusions. The resolutions to the film are absolutely hollow, and characters undergo unbelievable change without any sort of catalyst. For a brief second I felt as though a major section of the last act was cut and was left ultimately confused.

Minor Character Spoilers

I mentioned Dahl was one of my favorite characters despite having so little to work with. For majority of the film she is a tough bounty hunter who can definitely hold her own against the chauvinistic men. Like most of the characters she serves little more purpose than cannon fodder, but at the least she maintains consistency with her tough girl persona. However, in one final scene she goes from being a sharped tongue badass who rejects any and all advances to an implied sex object for Riddick with a newfound attraction to him. It’s quick 180’s like this in the end that feel unnatural and add to the film’s hollow resolution.

End Character Spoilers

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Even though Riddick (2013) does a well enough job standing on its own story wise, it fails to execute a satisfying conclusion to tie it altogether, leaving it ultimately feeling like set up for the next installment. The rest of my complaints are rather nitpicky given the nature of the film. Dialogue isn’t the smartest, characters aren’t the deepest, and the story isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s an honest effort that botches a few steps here or there. Audiences that can appreciate one-liners and over the top action for coolness sake will find something to enjoy here, but I find it highly doubtful that Riddick (2013) will break out past a cult following.

Interested in writing reviews or news posts for Thinking Cinematic? Contact me at ThinkCinematicReviews@gmail.com! You can also send your guest reviews there too!

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @Treyrs20o9
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic
Email: ThinkCinematicReviews@Gmail.com

Kick-Ass 2


Summary:

Kick-Ass 2 may not win fans outside the cult following, but it’s definitely a nice follow up for those who wanted more. The action is dark, brutal and more intense than ever. There’s a slight misfire in comedic timing that doesn’t quite live up to the original, especially when the dialogue will give Juno a run for its money in the trying too hard to be quirky department. Even if it doesn’t quite execute it nicely, Kick-Ass 2 does try to address some of the lack of consequences from the first, in particular with the up brining of Hit Girl. It’s far from perfect but for now Kick-Ass 2 is more of the same and it’s great to see Kick-Ass and Hit Girl together again.

When I first saw Kick-Ass (2010) I was pleasantly surprised with the film and it quickly became one of my favorites from that summer. It was ridiculously violent, incredibly fun, and an insane trip with enough wit to poke fun at other super hero movies. Needless to say my anticipation for the sequel was high and I couldn’t wait to see where they would go next. Admittedly as I rewatched the original this week I was somewhat let down by the experience. The film felt dated, and its once forgiven flaws more apparent than ever. Expectations tempered, I still walked away extremely satisfied from Kick-Ass 2, but it’s clear that the movie didn’t quite learn from its mistakes.

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Picking up after the events of the first movie, Kick-Ass’ actions have inspired a number of citizens to don their own super hero masks and fight crime. Under the leadership of Colonel Stars and Stripes the band of super hero vigilantes join together to create Justice Forever, and dedicate their time to the protection of their city. Meanwhile, driven by revenge and jealously Chris D’Amico, formerly The Red Mist, decides to start his own league of super villains and becomes the world’s first super villain, The Mother Fucker. Bent on killing Kick-Ass and terrorizing the city it’s up to Justice Forever to stop this league of villains.

Kick-Ass 2 may not win fans outside the cult following, but it’s definitely a nice follow up for those who wanted more. The insane action is just as brutal as ever and the humor just as dark. Guns blazing, it’s nice to be back for this crazy ride that holds no punches. Picking up where the last one left off we’re able to jump right into the action and it’s more intense than ever. There’s a slight misfire in comedic timing that doesn’t quite live up to the original, especially when dialogue will give Juno a run for its money in the trying too hard to be quirky department. Dialogue is one of the aspects of the first film that gave it such a dated feel when I revisited it, and its sequel commits the same crime without the humorous wit to cover it up. The first film was a nice jab at contemporary super hero films where as this one feels more focused in jam-packing pop culture references. Although it’s enjoyable now, it’s hard to see Kick-Ass 2 retaining its entertainment years from now.

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Kick-Ass is a world with little consequence and faulty logic. Social Networks are the 1-800 hot lines for do-it-yourself crime fighters without accountability. Masked super heroes run unchecked while cops remain absent, and an elven year old girl is stripped of her childhood without intervention. Even if it doesn’t quite execute it nicely, Kick-Ass 2 does try to address some of these issues, in particular with the up brining of Hit Girl. Delving into the reality of a now older Hit-Girl trying to reassimilate to the real world is a really interesting angle for the film to focus on. However, it comes with the cost of added teenage high school drama whose humor is more in line with poop jokes and mean girl stereotypes. These sections often disrupt the pacing of the film and are more awkward than humorous. I do appreciate what they were trying to do, and in theory it does offer some cool insight to Hit Girl, but it never feels right on screen.

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Another attempt at added consequence is the crackdown on all masked vigilantes. For a film and a half, the tone of these movies have been fun and wacky, but when the second act introduces realistic consequences it adds much needed weight to the film. Watching these characters being stripped of the identity that finally gave them purpose is interesting and it gave both Kick-Ass and Hit Girl moral choices to dwell on.

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Film Title: Kick-Ass 2

If you enjoyed the first, you’ll find enjoyment here. The new cast of characters is great and there’s almost a sense of pride watching these characters come into their own. The addition of Colonel Stars and Stripes was my most anticipated character of this movie and Jim Carrey really nails it. Deranged yet focused, Colonel Stars and Stripes is a wonderful character that doesn’t quite get the screen time he deserves, but definitely makes it count when he’s there. On the flip side, The Mother Fucker is another aspect that doesn’t quite hit the mark. I was really intrigued with watching this villain rise to power but unfortunately the pacing of his story line is so glossed over that it feels chaotic and rushed. It makes sense character wise, and we ultimately get to where we need to be with a character named The Mother Fucker, but the missed opportunity with this character is disappointing. His surrounding cast of villains is also unremarkable save for Mother Russia. A towering hulk of a female, Mother Russia is a fantastic character that blends the line between great and so bad she’s great. She’s essentially a walking tank who rains down destruction without breaking a sweat. She is the villainous over the top answer to Hit Girl, and she is inexplicably fun.

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Everything said, I still really enjoyed this movie. It’s a shame that the movie commits some of the same mistakes from the first film and it’ll be interesting to see how well this one holds up. For now though Kick-Ass 2 is more of the same and it’s great to see Kick-Ass and Hit Girl together again with more intensity than before.

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