Everything I Watched in June

Wow! Apparently, I watched a lot of stuff this month. Here are my thoughts!

In Theaters
The Fault In Our Stars- Watching this movie really made me feel old because my party (which consisted of my husband, my mother-in-law, and my mother-in-law’s boyfriend) were clearly the oldest people in the theater. Reality check aside, The Fault in Our Stars was a strong adaptation of a very good book. Yes, there were a handful of moments that felt stronger on page then on screen, but the fact that they were clearly committed to bringing The Fault in Our Stars to the screen rather than trying to turn it into a Nicholas Sparks or Twilight-esque film really worked well for me. The actors (especially Willem DaFoe!) are well cast, and the film does a great job of balancing the funny moments with the more serious ones. From what I’ve heard, the success of this low budget film may result in two more John Green adaptations (Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska), which I am looking forward to. B+

Edge of Tomorrow– Where did this film come from?! Edge of Tomorrow takes familiar tropes (a Groundhog Day-type scenario, an alien invasion) and really makes them their own. The suspense is appropriately nail biting, the action is top notch, and the acting is really good as well. Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt play off each other quite well, she as the experienced solider, and he as the coward who is forced to become a hero. The movie possesses some occasional nonsense, but it’s pretty forgivable. Wish more people would see this one. B+

How to Train Your Dragon 2– While not quite as memorable as the first one, How to Train Your Dragon 2 does a fabulous job at expanding the known world and bringing our characters to the next level. I love the fact that even though Hiccup more resembles the more traditional leading man now, he’s still the same guy from before: all about communication and innovation, not violence. There are some really touching moments in this film, and is succeeds on a visual level as well. I loved the unique creature designs for the numerous dragons, as well as the exciting arial sequences. B+

Maleficent– And well… they can’t all be great. Maleficent isn’t exactly a bad film, but the wasted potential is just painful. Angeline Jolie gives a compelling performance as Maleficent, and the feminist retake on the Sleeping Beauty myth is very well done. But ye gads! What sloppy storytelling. Even as a relatively forgiving viewer there were far too many events that occurred because they needed to keep the story going in the direction they wanted to, not because it made any type of logical sense. Also, the “good fairies” annoyed the hell out of me, and the CGI was kind of inconsistent. I liked the character of Diaval though. I’ve always had a soft spot for shapeshifters. C

On DVD/Blu-Ray
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries- The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was a webseries that ran on youtube from 2012-2013, retelling the classic novel Pride and Prejudice in the form of a vlog. I enjoyed watching it so much that I supported the kickstarter for the DVD release the day that it was announced. Numerous delays later, I finally ended up getting my DVD. it’s a really nice product. There are some sound issues with Lydia’s cellphone vlogs that become VERY OBVIOUS when dealing with the bigger screen, but I found that I ended up really enjoying watching these all over again. It does such a wonderful job of updating this classic tale, knowing just when to stick to the source material, and when to diverge. Every character is wonderfully cast and the show is very well paced. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is clearly something special the only comes around once in a great while. I’m quite happy to have my own copies of the DVDs now. A

Hero– And now for something completely different! Hero is a gorgeous Chinese wuxia film that came out a little over ten years ago. It focuses on a name called “Nameless” who has said to have killed the nation’s deadliest assassins for the King. Only it’s a little more complicated than that. It’s easy to focus on Hero’s beautifully choreographed action sequences and scenery, but what really draws me in is the role of storytelling. With every retelling of Nameless’s story, the stories become more complex, the characters more real, which continues to enhance the viewers experience. The resolution to the tale is probably not going to mesh well with many western viewers, but its unconventional take on heroism certainly provides the viewer with food for thought. A-

Wreck-It Ralph– Some movies just get better with every rewatch. Wreck-Ralph is a fabulous film about the secret life of video game characters. What really impresses me is how well this kids film deals with issues that adult ones struggle with. The cast is juggled expertly, with every one of its four central characters having a clear character arc. It also handles the issue of gender exceptionally well, and the plot has some genuine surprises. As an animated film, it’s true that the animation itself is beginning to show its age, but the voice acting remains top notch. Very happy to have watched this again. A-

On Netflix
The Host– Welcome to the awkward cliff notes version of The Host! Where it’s clear that the film makers care about keeping hard core fans pleased by keeping in all of the key scenes from the book, but don’t give a shit about making a good movie. Watch, as certain elements that work fine on page look absolutely ridiculous on screen. If you’re just looking for a relatively faithful adaptation on the Stephenie Meyer book, then you should do fine. If you care at all about pacing, set pieces, script, or (despite the actors’ best efforts) performances, do not watch this. D

Robot and Frank– How did this little gem of a film pass me by? Robot and Frank is a charming movie about an elderly man who gets a helper robot so he doesn’t have to go into a nursing home. At first, he resents it, until he realizes that the robot can help him reclaim his past as a jewel thief. Robot and Frank is a wonderfully acted film that mulls over the relationship between humans and technology, as well as the realities of aging. Add in some fun caper elements and a few twists and you get a genuinely enjoyable film. A-

 

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5 thoughts on “Everything I Watched in June

  1. I loved, loved, LOVED Robot & Frank.

    I haven’t yet seen The Fault in Our Stars or The Edge of Tomorrow or Maleficent, but I want to. And don’t worry, my expectations are firmly in check. 🙂

    • Yes! Robot and Frank is so well done. I wish more people knew about it.

      As far as expectations go, I know a lot of people liked Maleficent more than I did, so maybe you’ll have a better time?

      • I’ve read the bejeezus out of the spoilers, so I know the good and the bad the movie has to offer, so that’s good. 🙂

      • Ooh I never read spoilers. If I had the strength for it, I wouldn’t even read reviews. I feel like I’m too easily influenced by the opinions of others with it comes to my visual media.

      • I do if I’m unsure about whether or not I want to see/read something, and this was one of those cases. 🙂

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