Four teenagers are sucked into a magical video game, and the only way they can escape is to work together to finish the game. (IMDb)
The in-video game premise is clever and fun (see the NPCs) but the stakes feel low, despite the limited lives and creepy (crawly) baddie, and the emotional arc is pretty weak too. More importantly though, the adventure-action is good, and the comedy is great (even if it slows down the pace a little too much at points); the four leads excel in their high-school personality roles and bring lots of laughs (Black as the stereotypical popular girl is a highlight, but they all have their moments).
Maxwell Smart, a highly intellectual but bumbling spy working for the CONTROL agency, is tasked with preventing a terrorist attack from rival spy agency KAOS. (IMDb)
A few standout funny bits (I nearly cried laughing at that perfect in-tree cameo), a few standout not-funny bits (the fat jokes and xenophobia didn’t sit well), but mostly just a breezy and easily-consumable action comedy with a unique lead (Carrell’s dry delivery really works well with a character that’s sometimes the butt of the jokes, and sometimes making the jokes), good central odd-couple chemistry, and solid action sequences. Bonus points for the pacifist conflict resolve on the rooftop.
When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago. (IMDb)
Given its wild concept and expectedly undercooked plot and characters (the villains’ motives and the opening supporting cast end up MIA), the film’s at its best when it aims for camp (see Davis in the helicopter: “It’s coming back to me”) and at its worst when it takes itself too seriously (sorry, you did *not* earn the slow motion and mournful strings post-climax). Good destructo-action, mediocre everything else (even poor sometimes–what was with that awful parachute selfie camera angle?)
Sean Anderson partners with his mom’s husband on a mission to find his grandfather, who is thought to be missing on a mythical island. (IMDb)
Better than its awful predecessor (despite a more annoying Sean–now an arrogant and angsty teen), thanks mostly to superior visuals (the slow-motion was a nice touch; see the helicopter crash), but also a script that actually builds some suspense (see the devastating cliff collapse) and hints at decent character work (see Alexander’s brief moment at the campfire) amidst its still rushed adventure plot (they get to the island very quickly) with poor dialogue and failed attempts at humour.
Two mismatched New York City detectives seize an opportunity to step up like the city’s top cops whom they idolize — only things don’t quite go as planned. (IMDb)
The pairing of Wahlberg’s hilariously angry and ultra-serious Terry with Ferrell’s calm and nerdy Allen here makes for numerous laugh-out-loud moments throughout; they have great dialogue in between the outrageous action scenes, and are supported by a consistently funny secondary cast. The great humour here makes the plot incidental, but it ends up being given serious thought (see the end credits) which feels unnecessary and try-hard in what is otherwise just a simple buddy-cop comedy.