Annie is a young foster kid who has led a pretty rough life but despite all that she holds out hope that one day she will find her parents who left her because they had no choice but promised in a note they would come back for her one day. Everything for Annie changes one day however when she is “rescued” on the streets of New York City from in front of a car by Will Stacks who a business tycoon and New York mayoral candidate. Stacks is advised by his PR team to take Annie in for the duration of his campaign to boost his image. Stacks who wasn’t thrilled with the idea in the first place takes some time to warm up to Annie being in his life but her self-assured nature and sunny disposition win him over and the two both gain new outlooks on life that will bond them together forever. Starring Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, David Zayas, Cameron Diaz, Zoe Margaret Colletti, Nicolette Pierini, Eden Duncan-Smith, Amanda Troya, Dorian Missick, Tracie Thoms.
This updated and more hip version of the classic Broadway show and film Annie will be nothing like what you expect but it still offers a few touching moments and a performance from child star Quvenzhané Wallis that is decent if not quite what you expect again like the rest of the film.
Modernizing a classic doesn’t always work. With this more modern version of Annie it is sort of half success half failure. The modern elements add some fun and quirkiness to Annie. What it losses with the modernizing elements is the true heart and hardship that make the original Annie so touching and moving. I have seen the original Annie film and I have seen the Broadway show and they both tug at your heart-strings plus make you smile. I didn’t get all the same feelings from this version of Annie. True the expected songs are there but they fall flat, feel awkward sometimes unlike in the original where they just seem to work when they shouldn’t. The new songs added to fill the gaps in this film version range from good to horrible. I love Jamie Foxx but his song in the helicopter falls completely flat. It doesn’t help that all the singing appeared out of sync to me. They should have let the talent sing live on set and they would have gotten a much better result.
This version of Annie will I am sure find a home for the newer generation of kids but I hope that parents still share the original because it will never be outdone no matter what. Sometimes a classic should remain a classic and it doesn’t need to be modernized and I think this is one of the cases.
5/10 Stars – Worth watching but the original Annie still holds its own because it has the heart and soul that this version lacks.
The epic journey of Bilbo Baggins has finally come to its end. Thorin Oakenshield and his company of Dwarves have reclaimed their homeland from the ferocious Dragon Smaug. In doing so the company have unknowingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. Smaug unleashes his anger on the unexpecting Lake-town. Smaug is the least of the worries though because there are greater dangers ahead as various armies converge on the mountain to gain the prizes within or to take it as a strong hold. The races of Dwarves, Elves and Men must decide if they will unite against the deadly Orc forces or leave each to their own hoping to gain the ultimate prize. Before Bilbo can make his way back home he must first fight for his life and the life of his friends in the epic battle of the five armies. Starring Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Lee Pace, Evangeline Lily, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, Manu Bennett, Ian McKellen, Aidan Turner, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, James Nesbitt, Graham McTavish, Dean O’Gorman, Billy Connolly, Mikael Persbrandt, Stephen Fry, Ian Holm, Ryan Gage, Peter Hambleton.
Directed by Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies marks the final installment in the film series inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies doesn’t quite live up to the achievement of Jackson’s earlier Middle-Earth installments but it still delivers what its fans seek from a thrilling and beautiful film and of course loads of action and characters to love.
I think you can safely say that the titles of these final installments of The Hobbit have delivered. In the Desolation of Smaug you got lots of Smaug and in this, The Battle of Five Armies, you witness an epic battle with plenty of clanging swords and flying arrows. What the The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies lacks is any depth to the meaningful story that oozes from Martin Freeman. Freeman is the heart and soul of the film and yet takes second to the battle. There are a few moments where he gets to bring the heart to the forefront but it isn’t enough to give the film any true depth. The side story of Tauriel finds an end as well but again it felt truncated compared to the battle. Now I have to wonder if I were to watch all three films back to back as if they were one if it would feel more cohesive and the power of the story would find its rightful place. Perhaps I will try this when the final film is released on blu-ray.
The Battle of the Five Armies lives up to its title in every way. Although I will say I wasn’t quite sure what the five armies were, probably because I hadn’t read the book. I think I finally counted five different armies. The battle is quite an epic feat. So much CG on screen there is always a risk that it will easily look fake. For the most part Jackson delivers beautifully on what we as the audience have come to expect visually from him. There were a few moments that made you smirk because you could really tell something was done on the computer vs. filmed. My favorite visual was definitely the eagles again. They don’t play a big role in this film but they are just so cool! Overhead views of the battle are breathtaking and the Elvish army doesn’t fail to impress. I would have run away from them if I were the Orcs!
As The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies came to end I can’t say I was sad. I felt that it ended well, rounding out the series and the work of Peter Jackson nicely but I am on some level glad there won’t be another film because I have had my fill. The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit films feel complete and done. Hopefully Hollywood will see that and let the greatness that it all is cumulatively live for years to come as it is and not try to add to it or build more when there is no more to be done or said that could improve on what all the movies have brought to the world of film.
7/10 Stars – Not sorry to see it end but feel that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies brings everything neatly full circle and will please the fan base immensely.
As with most trilogies, the 3rd is the movie where everything is wrapped up with a giant ending. With the Battle of the Five Armies, we pick back up where we left Smaug flying towards Laketown and pretty much from the first minute this movie is action, action, action. It is a 2 hour and 20 minute giant battle that feels like it goes by in a flash! It is a nice conclusion to a series we have been watching for 2 years now, however, unlike The Return of the King that won all the Oscars, The Battle of the Five Armies is simply a battle set in Middle-Earth.
As big and action packed as this movie is, it has pretty much no plot. It picks up with the Dwarves still in the Lonely Mountain after Smaug leaves. Now everyone and their mom wants a piece of the huge amount of treasure in the tunnels of this mountain. The Humans want shelter, the Elves want their jewels, the Dwarves want their homeland and the Orcs want to kill them all… That is it! That is the whole premise of the last movie! Just grown men (and creatures) bitching about treasure and who gets to have it! If it wasn’t for the giant 2 hour Hollywood battle, this movie would be nothing, but I’m pleased that it fits in well with the Hobbit story. However, it is nothing in comparison with the Lord of the Rings, so if you are part of the fan base that isn’t happy with the Hobbit so far, this isn’t going to save it for you.
When the Hobbit series is all said and done, The Battle of the Five Armies ends up being a pretty decent movie with a large amount of entertainment. It’s the last we shall see of Middle-Earth (I’m guessing) and it doesn’t disappoint, but it sure is no Return of the King. Enter knowing it’s a fight over treasure and you’ll be just fine.
7/10 Stars – It’s a nice entertaining conclusion to the story, but it’s no Return of the King.
PS. What was the 5th army? Orcs, Humans, Dwarves, Elves and ???
Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) finds himself a little down on his luck. Although he is training with his brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) who also won gold in wrestling, something isn’t enough for Mark. So when the eccentric but insanely wealthy John du Pont (Steve Carell) invites Mark to move to his estate and form a team to train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics he jumps at the opportunity. For Mark it gives him the chance to focus on his training and step out of the spotlight of his older brother who has always overshadowed him. Du Pont is driven by his own personal need to make his mark on the world and the chance to “coach” a world-class wrestling team earning the respect of his peers and more importantly is disapproving mother (Vanessa Redgrave).
Foxcatcher is a deadly serious drama based on true events that features some extreme acting but moves so slow and feels so heavy that it doesn’t entertain so much as just plop a true story down in front of you and let it unfold as if it were happening live.
Foxcatcher wasn’t what I expected when I walked into the theater. I knew it was a drama and a long one at that but I didn’t know it was based on true events. The true events hinder the movie more than help it however. Like so many films based on a true story, Foxcatcher gives too many details where if it had held back even just a little the film would have been better for it. Granted the eccentricity of du Pont sort of needs a slow build but not 3 hours slow. The startling and dramatic end to Foxcatcher was one of only two things that kept me from rating the film much lower than I am.
The second thing that is a saving grace for Foxcatcher is the acting. It isn’t necessarily the end all be all of performances but Carrell definitely succeeds in stepping outside of his comfort zone. Tatum plays the dumb, vulnerable wrestler well but I can’t say I am surprised there. He seems made for the role. I enjoyed watching and analyzing how in-depth the two actors took their characters. Ruffalo adds a nice sane balance to the strange characters that are portrayed by Carrell and Tatum.
There is a great depth to Foxcatcher that would make it shine if the film could get out of its own way and had simplified things to highlight those deep emotions, connections and used the power of its cast to its benefit. Definitely not an entertaining film, I can’t recommend Foxcatcher to everyone but if you are a film buff or love movies based on true stories this one will be right up your alley.
7/10 Stars – Long and slow but the end and the acting make it worth the watch.
One might say that the “experience” of Foxcatcher will determine if you already know the story or not. When I saw Foxcatcher, I only knew a little bit about the ending but not in detail. Did that take away from the impact as a whole? Perhaps, but not by much. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, go see Foxcatcher and make sure you don’t research or let anyone spoil the end for you. It will pack one hell of a punch!
As for the movie, Foxcatcher is full of wonderful acting from A-list guys you will hardly recognize. The ending, as I mentioned before, is both sudden and impactful to the point that your jaw might drop if you don’t already know what is going to happen. This is the kind of movie that is a pure drama based-on-real-events that screams Oscar nominations, and sometimes that is a bad thing. These movies tend to drag on and offer little “entertaining” features. Foxcatcher falls into the category of being slow thanks to its drab dialogue and lack of color. Sure, I understand it’s the mood this movie is attempting to create, and what a great job it does of it, but I caution people who like upbeat stories. I felt that there were too many scenes in the movie that just added to the run time. They seem on the surface to be extra, and while I understand that some of the conversations or events add to the character development, did we really need to follow Channing Tatum into the bathroom when he pees?
Just by watching the trailer, you know there is an unsettling nature about Foxcatcher, and Steve Carell is the reason. He plays a role so different from anything else he has done, you forget it is him. The same goes to Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum. All 3 of these men take hold of this movie and make it what it is. None of them steal the show over the others and I could see any of these men getting an Oscar nod for their performances.
At the end of the day, Foxcatcher is a strange and eerie film that will both bore and make you shift in your seat. The movie increasingly gets more unsettling as every minute passes until the climax that will make you not want to leave the theater out of disbelief. There is a television show on right now named An American Horror Story… well I can safely say that Foxcatcher is what I would call a true American Horror. This isn’t Jason or Freddy scary. This is real.
7/10 Stars – If you can get passed the drab and boring first half, Foxcatcher is full of great performances that make a simple story into one chilling and shocking tale.
Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) has lost all hope. The death of her much beloved mother sends her spiraling into years of reckless and destructive behavior that ultimately ends in the dissolution of her marriage. The final straw in her destructive patterns pushes her to make a rash decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail…alone. With no experience or any idea what she is doing she sets out on a hike that will force her to face her inner demons and transform the damaged person she has become into a person on the mend. Starring Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, Keene McRae, Michiel Huisman, W. Earl Brown, Gaby Hoffmann, Kevin Rankin.
Wild is reminiscent of such memoir films as Eat Pray Love, 127 Hours and Into the Wild. It plays off the strengths of actress Reese Witherspoon who like her character has recently had a bumpy road in life. Wild encourages each of us to examine our lives, ya know the whole stop and smell the roses bit, without having to walk a thousand miles.
I think the risk with Wild was that the movie would end up being like All is Lost except in this case girl alone. I was pleasantly surprised however by how easily the film interweaved Cheryl’s back story, what led her to her crazy hike, with the hike itself. What the character experiences on the hike is a little bit underwhelming. Most of the difficulties she faces are in her head or created by her ignorance. So don’t expect any gut wrenching or gasp moments. There is one moment however close to the end of the film where she encounters a young boy and his grandmother walking a portion of the trail that will bring anyone with a heart to tears and it made any mundane moments that came before completely worth it.
Wild is definitely worth your own journey to the theater to see because while it isn’t emotionally overwhelming it has a lot of beautiful moments plus a fantastic performance from Witherspoon who deserves the Golden Globe nod she has received for her performance so far in this award season. Be warned Wild isn’t a typically entertaining film. Wild plays out for the award season but it does it with finesse and it offers its audience more than some great performances it brings a story and emotion to the table that will leave you thinking.
8/10 Stars – Enjoyed it far more than I expected and was really glad to see Witherspoon back in the saddle using her true acting potential.
Andre Allen is an ex-comedian who after a battle with alcohol has transformed his life and is now looking to transform his career and be taken more seriously. As he promotes his latest serious film endeavor he spends an unexpected day with journalist Chelsea Brown. Chelsea forces him to confront his past issues, present film ventures and his future life and career as a comedian .
Written and directed by Chris Rock, Top Five showcases his more adult comedic skills but leans toward the more serious than it does the laugh out loud comedy. Certainly new territory for Rock, Top Five may not have been hilarious but it was still enjoyable and definitely had some funny moments.
As I sat watching Top Five I was continually wonder when the “ha ha” funny would happen. After I gave up hope for a good laugh I saw more depth and subtle comedy to the film that definitely goes against how it was marketed. True there were scenes meant to make you laugh out loud but personally I don’t find a naked Cedric the Entertainer performing lewd acts funny.
Despite its comedic flaws under the direction of Chris Rock Top Five still manages to find its stride. This is thanks largely in part to the easy chemistry between Rock and Dawson. Since their interaction is the bulk of the film their connection and acting are the make or break of Top Five. The acting alone doesn’t carry the film. Top Five benefits from its stolen style of delivery which is very reminiscent of Woody Allen’s films. The feel is very casual and the flow easily bounces between past and present, as well as various locations without losing its audience in complicated scene changes.
Top Five finds a sweet spot cinematically for me by being fairly original, featuring some decent acting plus memorable cameos from recognizable comedians. It didn’t live up to expectations set after seeing trailers and previews but it ultimately works well and Chris Rock shines.
7/10 Stars – Promoted as a comedy but it wasn’t near as funny as I thought it would be.
Her Review: Annie is a young foster kid who has led a pretty rough life but despite all that she holds out hope that one day she will…
Her Review: The epic journey of Bilbo Baggins has finally come to its end. Thorin Oakenshield and his company of Dwarves have reclaimed their homeland from the ferocious…
Her Review: Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) finds himself a little down on his luck. Although he is training with his brother Dave (Mark…
Her Review: Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) has lost all hope. The death of her much beloved mother sends her spiraling into years of reckless and destructive behavior that…