Pitch Perfect 3: Third Installment an Aca-tastrophe Worth Seeing

2 out of 5 stars (has some good moments, but is overall bad)

Pitch Perfect 3 Poster
Image from https://www.themoviedb.org/

Pitch Perfect 3 is the third installment in the musical comedy series about  a cappella and  the bonds of sisterhood.  If you enjoyed the other two and want one last hurrah with the Bellas, then you should embrace your inner completionist and seek this out.  And, even if you’ve never cared for this series, I would still recommend it purely to watch the film morph from a generic comedy into a ridiculous action film.  No I’m not kidding.

This film sees the Bellas reunite post-graduation to take part in an international USO tour and encountering rival groups Evermoist (yes you read that right) and other unimportant bands, who all use actual instruments!  The goal: to  to impress and open for DJ Khaled (playing himself).  However, things get complicated with the intro of Fat Amy’s (Rebel Wilson) criminal father (John Lithgow sporting a horrid Aussie accent), who essentially forces the movie into a bizarre (yet still enjoyable) direction.  John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks also appear as the sexist announcers, this time following the Bellas around for a documentary.  Because of course they are.

This is a bad movie.  Most of the musical numbers feel forced and aren’t memorable like previous entries.  The comedy is self-mocking, almost as if the film was originally supposed to satirize the formula before being overhauled, and the final 3rd becomes a Rebel Wilson Action Movie.  I don’t know who made this decision, but I would like to personally thank them for doing so.

Pitch Perfect 3 is both a beautiful aca-tastrophe and a passable swan song to fans of the franchise.  The musical sequences should get the toes tapping, but the plot and characters are hilariously thin and the final act was clearly rewritten to get more buts in seats.  It’s time to close the aca-curtains on this series, while it still has a shred of dignity left.

Rated PG-13 for Crude And Sexual Content, Language, And Some Action

These “Angry Birds” Should Have Flown Straight to DVD

1 out of 5 stars (one of the worst of the year)

Angry Birds movie poster
Image from https://ia.media-imdb.com/

The Angry Birds Movie is what happens when a studio takes an outdated property, finds some half-decent actors, and inserts unnecessary adult humor into a premise devoid of any cinematic potential.  The film is loud, overlong, and dull, with voice actors who alternate between trying way too hard and not trying at all.  That’s not to say that young kids won’t enjoy it: the film is extremely colorful and the characters are always moving around, but the dialogue is immature and overly childish.  Again, I understand this is a movie targeted at young children, but in a postInside Out landscape, animated films like this are insulting to children’s intelligence as well as their parents’ tolerance.  In short, The Angry Birds Movie is the worst animated film I’ve seen this year, its single star gained out of the 5 honest laughs in its 97-minute runtime.

It concerns Red (Voiced by a wholly unlikable Jason Sudeikis), an angry bird on an island where every other inhabitant is a happy one. While people like you and me might see the glass as half-full, Red doesn’t see any water in the glass at all.  His latest angry outburst lands him in anger management class with some other angry birds: Bomb (Voiced by Danny McBride), who literally explodes when he gets angry, and Chuck (voiced by an extremely irritating Josh Gad), who possesses a pathological need for lawbreaking.  This class is taught by the eternally perky Matilda (voiced by an energetic Maya Rudolph), the only character I liked in the film.  This is Red’s worst nightmare, but for us, it’s only the beginning.

The feathers really hit the fan when green pigs, led by Leonard (Voiced by a boring Bill Hader) arrive unexpectedly. While the rest of the island is taken by these mysterious invaders, Red senses something is amiss and, after some investigation, discovers the pigs are imperialists who will take the island resources and leave it for dead.  This causes him, Chuck, and Bomb to set out on a quest for the legendary Mighty Eagle (Voiced by a paycheck-seeking Peter Dinklage) to help save their home.

This film annoyed me. Some critics have praised the animation for its detail on the bird feathers.  I don’t think the birds were much to look at, but some of the backgrounds were relatively pretty (in some cases they were more involving than the events transpiring with the characters).  However, the pig characters were ugly to me and seemed creepy when they moved around (which they do a great deal).  As well, I found the main characters to be unoriginal, unlikable, and somewhat grating.  I was never invested in these characters or cared about their adventure.  I honestly considered walking out at a couple of points (something I never do).  However, I thought it might improve in the end or have a message about the danger of imperialism. Unfortunately, what I got for my hard-earned-time was an anticlimactic 20 minutes of angry birds being flown at a pig castle via convenient slingshot (as in the mobile app, as far as I know).

The Angry Birds Movie is loud, obnoxious, and irritating to no end. Fans of the app may enjoy it, but for everyone else, I would suggest seeing Zootopia again.

Rated PG for Rude Humor and Action

Read my review for Zootopia Here

Read my review for Inside Out Here

“Days of Future Past” is X-hilarating

4.5 out of 5 stars (nearly a classic)

X-Men: Days of Future Past Poster
Image from https://www.amazon.com/

X-Men: Days of Future Past is one of the best films of the long-running X-Men franchise.  It combines everything I love about the franchise: Interesting characters, good humor, and engaging action sequences, once again under the direction of Bryan Singer, the man who arguably started the public’s fascination with comic book films.  If you have not seen or have a general dislike of the X-Men films, then this will only confuse you.  If you love the films, this one will entertain you.

Logan (Hugh Jackman once again proving he’s the only man for the role) has joined forces with Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and his once-foe Magneto (Ian McKellen) along with a rag-tag band of mutants who are fighting against the Sentinels, giant mutant-hunting robots created by Dr. Trask (Peter Dinklage displaying that his small stature does not hinder his ability to intimidate).

The situation has escalated to the point that the mutant’s only option is to send someone back to 1973 and stop the Sentinels from being created in the first place.  A mutant with the ability to project people’s brains back in time does so to Logan so that he can get a younger Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) to assist him with this.  Once there, he discovers that it was Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence once again displaying her amazing acting talents) who unintentionally caused the present problems.  Unfortunately, Charles is in a mental funk at this point, and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is still up to his old tricks.  Time is of the essence, however, so Logan must accomplish his mission or risk the annihilation of the mutant population.

I cannot begin to describe how much this movie surprised me.  The trailers made it look as if it would be one of two things: absolutely amazing, or just okay.  Thankfully, it was absolutely amazing.  The plot moves quickly, the characters are as engaging as ever, and all of the humor hits the mark.  The story was written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn (Vaughn directed X-Men: First Class, which breathed new life into the series), and the two of them have that rare ability to balance humor and seriousness without there being tonal whiplash.

Dinklage is the perfect man to play Trask, being so intimidating that you forget his dwarfish size.  He is one of the best villains I’ve seen in this series, the second being William Stryker in X2.  The viewer can hate and understand his goals at the same time, another rarity in an action film.  The real standout performance is Jennifer Lawrence, who commands the attention of the audience whenever she’s onscreen.  Provided she doesn’t pull any Lindsay Lohans on us, Lawrence should have a long and prosperous career.  McAvoy also succeeds at playing a broken man while not making his character depressing.  My only complaint is that some of the actors don’t get a lot to do.  Halle Berry shows up as Storm in the climax, but that’s about it.  Hopefully, she will get more to do in the next film.

All in all, X-Men: Days of Future Past is a fantastic movie, mixing the five star rating by a grain of salt.  It’s funny, action-packed, and absolutely amazing.

Rated PG-13 for Sequences of Intense Sci-Fi Violence and Action, Some Suggestive Material, Nudity (one humorous scene) and Language (not all that much)

“High School Musical” Graduates to the Big Screen

3 out of 5 stars (average)

High School Musical 3: Senior Year poster
Image from http://www.moviepostershop.com/

Note: Upon rewatching this film, I find it absolutely shocking that I once enjoyed it.  The acting and writing are laughable, (the former especially for Vanessa Hudgens) the music numbers, while well-produced, took me out of the films’ reality, and the self-congratulatory ending is ludicrous.  I would give it 2 out of 5 stars today (has some good moments, but is overall bad).  Despite that, please enjoy this review from my younger, less-experienced self.

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last two years, this is the third installment of a big musical franchise about diversity and the power of choices, all set to music.

Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) is East High’s basketball champion for the Wildcats team. He’s got his teammates like Chad (Corbin Bleu) and the support of his girlfriend Gabriella Montez, East High’s genius-hottie who is played by Vanessa  Hudgens. What could be better? But this is Senior Year and that means Troy, Gabriella, Chad and everyone else has to think about where they want to go to college. Troy’s father has already picked out a college for him; his alma mater the University of Albuquerque. Gabriella might go to Stanford University, very far away from Troy.

The new school year starts, and drama teacher Mrs. Darbus (Alyson Reed) announces that this year’s musical shall be about the kids’ final days at East High. Determined to see that this is her show and not the Wildcats, pink queen Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) enlists the help of her dorky brother Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) and exchange student Tiara Gold (Jemma McKenzie-Brown) to help her hijack the play. Meanwhile, Gabriella gets the gang to do the show, knowing this is the last time they will get to do something together. (How likely is it that the ball-hugging jocks are doing the school musical for the third year in a row?)

“High School Musical 3: Senior Year” is the worst of the HSM trilogy, but it is still good. The songs and dances are fun, but they take up too much of the movie for there to be as good a plot as its prequels. Ryan is still as dorky as ever, and Sharpay can’t seem to understand she will never get Troy’s heart.

I liked the fact that none of the actors were replaced even though they are all about 21-22 years old. The dance numbers a superbly demonstrated and almost every kind of music you can think of is in this film. There are hip hop, slow, rock, and other kinds of music.

Unfortunately, there is too much music in the movie for there to be a good plot, and Mrs. Darbus isn’t as goofy as she was in the last two movies. My friend Virgil went to see this with me (even though he’s never seen the HSM movies) and liked it. My sister Carol went to this film with a group of her friends, and they all screamed with delight (according to my sister) whenever Troy came on the screen. That happens to me whenever I walk in a room. They booed whenever Troy and Gabriella kissed though (sixth graders, yuck!)

Everyone knows about this franchise, so why did Disney take it to the big screen instead of keeping it on TV? The most logical answer in my opinion is, for the $$$$. The question is whether it’s really worth the $3.50 coke and $4.50 popcorn, plus the $6 movie ticket to see this flick. Yeah, I think it’s worth it, especially since my parents paid my way.

Rated G for Good Enough 1 hour, 40 minutes

“Penelope”: Down and snout

2 out of 5 stars (has some good moments, but is overall bad)

penelope poster 400 pixelPenelope (played by Christina Ricci) is a girl with a pig snout for a nose. Many years before she was born, a witch put a curse on her family: the next newborn girl would have the face of a pig. The curse would only be broken when “one of her own kind” would come to love her for who she is.

Penelope’s mother Jessica (Catherine O’Hara) and father Franklin (Richard E. Grant) have kept her inside their mansion ever since a news reporter named Lemon (Peter Dinklage) tried to run a story about Penelope’s pig face. Only men who might break the pig curse are allowed to see Penelope. They always run away, however, because of Penelope’s pig snout, leaving her sad and alone.

Lemon teams up with Edward (Simon Woods), a man who also tried to tell people about Penelope to no avail. The two get a broke gambler named Max (James McAvoy) to take a picture of Penelope to prove to the world they aren’t crazy. Yet, instead of getting a picture of Penelope, Max unintentionally makes things worse by making Penelope run away, driving her mother crazy.

Will Penelope get a real nose? Will she come back to her mother? Will she fall in love? The ending surprised me and I hope it does the same for you.

However, I thought this movie stunk like a pig pen. Some parts kind of bored me, and the film wasn’t a comedy like I was expecting. There were a few funny moments here and there but not enough. I don’t think little kids will like the grown-up parts of the movie after Penelope runs away, and I’m not sure who is supposed to like this film.

Rated PG for thematic elements and mild language.