Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)

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After the highs of winning the world championships, the Bellas find themselves split apart and discovering there aren’t job prospects for making music with your mouth. But when they get the chance to reunite for an overseas USO tour, this group of awesome nerds will come together to make some music, and some questionable decisions, one last time.(Letterboxd)
The unexpected intro with “Toxic” followed by a big action movie “jump away from explosion” sequence is pretty fun, but the flashback story that follows mostly disappoints, with forced backstories (see dad issues x2), tired retreads of old plot lines (“It has to be a competition!”), and constant fishing for new filler (see the barely there romance and Bella baby). Amy’s still funny and the music’s still good though, so it remains decently engaging through to the nice wrap-up ending.
6/10 (Mediocre)

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

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After being humiliated in front of none other than the President of the United States of America, the Bellas are taken out of the Aca-Circuit. In order to clear their name, and regain their status, the Bellas take on a seemingly impossible task: winning an international competition no American team has ever won. (Letterboxd)
What the fuck’s up with the expository announcers? Asshole John is only countered by supposed straight-counterpart Gail half the time, so we’re left with a lot of just straight up offensive jokes in addition to the already strange amount of cultural stereotypes and fat phobia. The core of the film, fortunately, is just friendship, music, and montages, and it somehow manages to transcend its surface cheese to reach some pretty beautiful places (see the found sound around the fire, final song).
6.5/10 (Alright)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

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Katniss Everdeen is in District 13 after she shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage. (IMDb)
Grim, ghastly, great. Could’ve capitalized on the momentum of the simple and effective good rebels vs. bad Capitol set-up of the first two flicks, but instead chose to sit in the darkness underground for a while and meditate on media manipulation and the horrors of war that exist even when you’re fighting evil: a remarkable pre-climax storytelling maneuver that sits better the more you stew on it. Well-shot, scored (Lawrence’s “The Hanging Tree” is truly haunting), and acted, as always.
8/10 (Great)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

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Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem. (IMDb)
The first act is superb as rebellion brews and Katniss and Peeta deal with the complex aftermath to the previous Games. I wish it lingered here longer instead of rushing to the next Games though; the plan to taint Katniss’ image was dropped rather quickly, for example. Still, emotional scenes abound in the familiar plot structure of the next two acts (see Katniss and Peta’s powerful presentations to the sponsors; Katniss’ dress reveal), and the bounty of new supporting characters are memorable.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

The Hunger Games (2012)

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Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games: a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death. (IMDb)
Captivating from the get-go thanks to the intimate, hand-held camerawork, bittersweet landscapes of poverty and natural beauty, and ethereal, haunting soundtrack. As the last two acts dive into the deep end of the disturbing dystopia while keeping these elements it becomes even more so; social commentary on class disparity, reality entertainment, and desensitization to violence intertwine to make numerous powerful scenes and a poignant lingering sense of despair and rebellion amidst victory.
8/10 (Great)

 

Love & Mercy (2014)

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In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 1980s, he is a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy. (IMDb)
Maybe it’s just the two different actors, but the past and future narratives just never really feel like they share the same protagonist, which is a shame, because each story is still strongly engaging in its own right: One showcasing Wilson’s quirky brilliance and burgeoning internal struggles, the other his road to recovery and love from under the thumb of a manipulative psychiatrist, each featuring solid performances, good music, and intentionally artful editing that keeps things interesting.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

The Lego Movie (2014)

An ordinary Lego construction worker, thought to be the prophesied ‘Special’, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil tyrant from gluing the Lego universe into eternal stasis. (IMDb)
A quick-witted script loaded with hilarious dialogue and one-liners is executed perfectly by a stacked and perfectly cast voice line-up playing a diverse set of wacky characters. Self-aware Lego-humour and wild animated action round out this awesome aesthetic for a story that’s simple but strong in its message about creativity, social conformity, and self-worth, particularly in its unique and startlingly beautiful conclusion that shifts the movie from good fun to a great film.
8/10 (Great)