Jupiter Ascending (2015)

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In a universe where human genetic material is the most precious commodity, an impoverished young Earth woman becomes the key to strategic maneuvers and internal strife within a powerful dynasty. (Letterboxd)
The self-discovery journey has a passive and bland protagonist, the space politics plot is interesting but confusing, and the shallow romantic arc feels purely obligatory. Nothing works, and the serious tone, poor dialogue (“I love dogs”), and mediocre turns and VFX don’t help. With the ending repeat of Jupiter’s life on earth I almost forgave it all as a weird character growth metaphor, but then wolf-man boyfriend comes zooming in again on his sky skates and he’s grown wings now and.. yeah.
4/10 (Bad)

Logan Lucky (2017)

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Two brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. (IMDb)
Strangely slow-paced for a heist flick, and maybe a little meandering, but as it sinks in you realize that’s part of its unique, down-to-earth charm. The pace provides time to invest in the cast of quirky, blue-collar characters (steady Clyde and hard-luck, hard-working Jimmy have a great dynamic) and the heist is still lots of fun (the jail stand-off was a highlight). It may not have the flash and pop of a Rihanna hit, but it’s got the staying power and folksy warmth of a John Denver classic.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

22 Jump Street (2014)

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After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt and Jenko when they go deep undercover at a local college. (IMDb)
Maybe it’s just because I watched it right after the first, but despite all its sequel-satirical nods (the opening address change and ending credits were hilarious), and perhaps because of them in some cases (the “exact same thing as last time” line felt overused) it didn’t feel quite as fresh. Fortunately, Hill and Tatum’s continued chemistry is more than enough to keep you engaged (see their counselling session), helped too by some quirky new characters (Bell’s deadpan dame is a riot).
7/10 (Good)

 

21 Jump Street (2012)

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A pair of underachieving cops are sent back to a local high school to blend in and bring down a synthetic drug ring. (IMDb)
Takes an already funny buddy cop comedy (Hill and Tatum have excellent chemistry–see their bungled opening arrest, tearful final triumph) and goofy high school flick (jock Jenko with the nerds is a highlight thread) and adds a thick layer of sharp satire to the tropes from both (see the millennial update of high school), and even to itself as a film (“37 Jump St… No, that doesn’t sound right”), making for a wholly entertaining experience from its 2000s flashback beginning to “Die Hard” end.
8/10 (Great)

 

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

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A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio’s stars in line. (IMDb)
Despite Gambon’s excellent bits of narration and Brolin’s classic-Coen-crazy central day-in-the-life plot thread, Hail, Caesar! still feels more like a series of skits than anything else-some of them bland (DeeAnna’s dilemma is forgettable), many hilarious (see Hobie on the set of Merrily We Dance; McDormand’s outrageous cameo) and entertaining (see Tatum’s song and dance number among the numerous 50s Hollywood tributes), but all of them feeling rather inconsequential by the film’s abrupt end.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Foxcatcher (2014)

Striking and scenic cinematography and stellar performances from the three leads are regrettably wasted here thanks to a stifling screenplay: Slow-burning embers of tension are expertly stoked but as scene after scene goes by without any flames the film really starts to drag and you’re left waiting for something to happen. The massive potential of the interesting story and characters (Carell’s discomforting rich recluse in particular) is suffocated in this bittersweet film.
7/10 (Good)

Coach Carter (2005)

An inspiring high-school sports drama carried by loveable characters, a moving storyline, and a strong lead performance by Jackson. The sports film cliches are definitely here, but aren’t gregarious enough to make me not cry countless tears at the emotional peaks in the story, no matter how predictable. Some of the players’ personal side-plots feel a bit out of place (Kenyon and Kyra’s drama comes to mind) but others fit more seamlessly. In sum, a wonderful story, if not a ground-breaking film.
7/10 (Good)