Terminator Genisys (2015)

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When John Connor, leader of the human resistance, sends Sgt. Kyle Reese back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor and safeguard the future, an unexpected turn of events creates a fractured timeline. (IMDb)
It was around the third trip through time that the twisty plot crossed the line from “huh, interesting!” to “wut.” but at least we had Simmons’ wild-eyed O’Brien to add some comedic flavour to the mess (“Goddamn time traveling robots covering up their goddamn tracks!”). The main trio are engaging enough to take us through the wild action-adventure, though the romance is cringe-y and still on the shelf (cuz I didn’t buy it. Heh) and Clarke’s strong Sarah is often undermined (“Protect my Sarah”).
6.5/10 (Alright)

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

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Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to home. (IMDb)
As colourful and creatively animated as always (see the unique multi-panel training montage, trippy climactic trip to the spirit world) but with heightened humour (“Even Master Chicken’s going in, and he’s a chicken!”) and emotion (the two-dad arc is a touching one: “Dads!”) this time around, often taking place within the same wonderful moment (see the two-dad fighting combo; chi circle: “You taught us to be who we were meant to be. A dad” “A friend” Granny panda: “A lethal fighting machine”).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Megamind (2010)

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The supervillain Megamind finally defeats his nemesis, the superhero Metro Man. But without a hero, he loses all purpose and must find new meaning to his life. (IMDb)
The script’s dialogue-based humour is inconsistent at best (the opening voiceover intro is kinda lame; Megamind and Metro Man’s cliche convo was funny: “Revenge is best served cold!” “But it can be easily reheated in the microwave of evil!”) but it’s helped by a great voice cast (Cross as earnest Minion tops the list), and the overarching premise offers both some quirky satire of the typical good guy vs. villain dynamic as well as, of course, a refreshingly nuanced look at the villain itself.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

La La Land (2016)

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A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles. (IMDb)
Fresh right from the unabashedly joyous opening song to its road rage at first sight (such humour is tastefully dotted throughout). Their ever-after isn’t what it could have been either, but the plot’s interplay between love and individual aspiration (each are marvelously portrayed by Gosling and Stone) shows it isn’t necessarily a bad thing–a nuance that adds depth to the film’s cute romance and gorgeous aesthetic of dream-like colours and camerawork, scrumptious sets, and magical music.
8.5/10 (Amazing)

The Accountant (2016)

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As a math savant uncooks the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities and the body count starts to rise. (IMDb)
The enigmatic accountant both brilliant and bad-ass is a unique protagonist and a three-perspective approach (hero, villain, cop) offers a well-rounded study (though its occasional sentimentality feels forced–see the hotel scene). It doesn’t work quite as well in the plot delivery, as the film feels a little scattered up until the third act overloaded with twists (albeit great bow-tying ones), but its ambition should be lauded (as an aside, so should its great cinematography and soundtrack).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Thank You for Smoking (2005)

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Satirical comedy follows the machinations of Big Tobacco’s chief spokesman, Nick Naylor, who spins on behalf of cigarettes while trying to remain a role model for his twelve-year-old son. (IMDb)
Eckhart’s Nick is a slippery spokesman for smoking that you can’t help but root for in spite of his “flexible morals”, thanks to his charismatic quick-talking. The film follows suit, presenting with wicked wit and entertaining editing (see the film pauses and brief inner narrations) its darkly humourous characters (see the outrageous Merchants of Death and Simmons’ abrasive B.R.) and fresh subject matter. Nick’s more serious father conundrum could have been taken a step further though.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Juno (2007)

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Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.  (IMDb)
For all of the film’s briefness, the characters have remarkable depth–the most surprising being the supporting Bateman and Garner’s cool but flaky Mark and uptight but sympathetic Vanessa. Their shaky marriage adds an intriguing layer of drama to the already witty yet genuine teen pregnancy/love storyline, featuring the awkward but gentle Cera and the offbeat quick-talking Page, and dressed with a quirky screenplay and an ever present soundtrack both cutely whimsical and sugary sweet.
8/10 (Great)

The Mexican (2001)

A man tries to transport an ancient gun called The Mexican, believed to carry a curse, back across the border, while his girlfriend pressures him to give up his criminal ways. (IMDb)
A thoroughly enjoyable quirky crime-comedy, calling to mind 2008’s Burn After Reading: Each have an eclectic cast of characters (two of whom are played by Pitt and Simmons, the former playing an inept yet brash character in both), and a chaotic plot full of twists and mishaps that revolves around a single object desired by many. In The Mexican, touches of surprising romance and emotional drama (see the great Winston-Samantha duo) are added to the comedy to make it a truly entertaining watch.
7/10 (Good)

Burn After Reading (2008)

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A disk containing the memoirs of a CIA agent ends up in the hands of two unscrupulous gym employees who attempt to sell it. (IMDb)
Pitt is a definite highlight here; his manic, dim, gum-chewing gym employee is a riot, the best of an already eclectic cast of characters. The espionage plot is outrageous and not entirely cohesive or coherent, but a comedic gem of a final scene with Simmons makes it clear that this was intentional. It still feels like a cop-out though, and what could have been a great film considering its proven directors and loaded cast is just a good one–funny and entertaining, but not altogether brilliant.
7/10 (Good)

Whiplash (2014)

A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. (IMDb)
Simmons as the terrifying and unpredictable Fletcher has you on the edge of your seat every time he makes an appearance, and Teller as the ambitious Andrew matches him punch for punch to complete a unforgettably passionate on-screen relationship that raises fascinating questions about the nature of art and the moral issues regarding human ability and drive. The film is intense, disturbing, and without a wasted scene: only after its brilliant and mesmerizing finale can you finally take a breath.
9.5/10 (Breathtaking)