Well, I'm not going to lie: this was a busy week! :D
Battle Royale (2000)
Ever since The Hunger Games came out, I've heard this movie mentioned in connection with it several times. And, while I liked the first Hunger Games, I'll be the first to say this is far superior. :) Unlike The Hunger Games, which pussed out by censoring the violence, in Battle Royale there is blood, blood, blood everywhere! And the notion of kids killing each other seems all the more real and horrific because they're still in school uniform. If you're sick of movies that shy away from the inherent violence of their subject matter, give this one a watch and refresh yourself. :) My rating: 85%.
Pain & Gain (2013)
Needless to say, since I hate Michael Bay with a fiery passion, I was not looking forward to this movie. And, sadly, it turned out not to be the one exception that I'd been hoping for. It's not as annoying as Bad Boys or as noisy as Armageddon or as all-around loathsome as Transformers 2… but it's so boring! It's a two-hour movie, but it feels more like four! It does perk up a bit towards the end, though; my favourite scene is when they're trying to dismember the bodies. But aside from that, their ineptitude at crime and pretty stupid dispositions just don't make for an interesting movie – at all. My rating: 25%.
Iron Man: Rise of Technovore (2013)
This isn't a bad Iron Man story: a foe who combines nanotechnology and biotechnology, and can control them completely on a whim, seems virtually impossible to overcome. But the overall tone of the movie is what kills it. The whole thing seems very dark, desolate and dreamlike; it completely defies the expectations of someone like me, who's only seen the Robert Downey Jr. movies. That's why my favourite scene is when Iron Man and the Punisher are trying to escape from Hawkeye and Black Widow: the tone of that scene makes it seem like it's from a completely different movie! :) But the rest is just not much fun. My rating: 45%.
Superman: Unbound (2013)
After Man of Steel, this movie is a godsend! :D I haven't read the comic story arc it's based on, but the story works unbelievably well as an animated film regardless. Superman discovers that Brainiac has the Kryptonian city of Kandor imprisoned in one of his many glass jars, and is determined to rescue it while also preventing Brainiac from reaching Earth – so he has a more personal goal as well as the safety of the world at heart. And hot damn is it a tonne of good-natured fun! It never stops being entertaining, not even for a second! So thank God there was at least a good alternative Superman movie this year. :) My rating: 85%.
March of the Dinosaurs (2011)
This is more like what I wanted with the upcoming Walking with Dinosaurs movie, not the complete betrayal that the trailer implies. It's presented as a documentary, complete with a narrator, but it proves that even the natural world can make for a compelling narrative. I really felt for little Scar when all that shit happens to him after he gets isolated! At first I was sceptical about the tyrannosaurs being feathered, but I think they really pulled it off. Stephen Fry as the narrator is every bit as awesome as expected. And once you get used to the cheap CGI, it really gets the job done. So on the whole, I loved it. My rating: 85%.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game (PS3)
Like many movie-licensed games, there's more of a focus on storytelling than on any sort of groundbreaking gameplay. And the gameplay mechanics are a bit dodgy in this case; even catching ghosts like in the movies isn't as much fun as I thought, mostly because I'm not the best aim with an analogue controller. And to be honest, I was never a big Ghostbusters fan, so I didn't even get that much into the story. But I commend it for bringing in higher stakes than either of the movies, and the atmosphere of the other dimensions you enter is expertly creepy. Overall, it's okay. My rating: 65%.
And now for this week's trio of Xtra-vision rentals. :) I mentioned last week that they had an offer on: unlimited movies for just €25 a month, which would work out far cheaper than the €10 per batch I usually pay. Well, I inquired about that in store, and it turns out I can only rent two at a time with that deal. And you know me: I usually rent three at once – and there are so many movies coming up that I'm going to need to keep that up. And I live so far out of town that coming in twice a week is quite out of the question. So fuck the €25 offer. It would be awesome to take advantage of it, but I can't. :(
The Internship (2013)
After a somewhat promising start – it wasn't making me laugh much but I loved the interplay between the two leads – the script devolves into a completely formulaic disappointment. The internship programme is made into a series of very childish game-like challenges. I saw this movie already this year: it was called Monsters University! The antagonist is just a completely immature jerk, and I somehow doubt Google headquarters is that much like a kids' fun world. For what it's worth, the performances are pretty solid and Rose Byrne gets a few good laughs, but the entire premise is just… stupid. My rating: 55%.
Only God Forgives (2013)
Now I understand why this movie was reportedly booed at Cannes! For one thing, the pacing is staggeringly slow; by the 25-minute mark, only ten minutes' worth of material has actually happened! There's so much red in the colour scheme; it's just downright uncomfortable to look at! But above all, the movie's depiction of depravity is deplorable because it's completely shallow; we know nothing about any of the characters, so all you're left with is the actual horrible acts they commit. It's a truly reprehensible film, right up there with The Purge as one of the two worst movies I've seen all year. My rating: turkey.
Despicable Me 2 (2013)
This movie was pretty much what I expected: a basic but earnest, energetic and fun kids' movie. As a sequel, I'm glad it didn't just revert to the status quo: Gru is still an affectionate father, accepting an espionage operation rather than another great evil scheme. Most of the movie is played as a comedy, and many, many jokes hit their mark. The minions, of course, steal every single scene they're in, my personal favourite being Lucy's driving scene early on. :D On the other hand, I've always hated Kristen Wiig, and this is no exception. But all in all, it's nothing great, but the most enjoyable kind of mindless fun. My rating: 70%.
And finally, I went up to Dublin for what will most likely be my last cinema marathon of the year. True, I'll probably go and see Carrie and Saving Mr Banks back-to-back, but I'd say it's debatable whether or not a pair of movies constitutes a marathon. :)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
I'm sure I'm in a minority on this, but I didn't like this nearly as much as the first Hunger Games. It's almost a complete retread of the first movie, just with slightly different stakes. And it's a little hard to care about the drama, especially the romantic stuff, when the characters are all flat as pancakes. Still, at least the camera work's better this time around: not nearly as much shaky cam, thank God! :) And, while these movies aren't as ballsy as Battle Royale, this one did remind me that they work in a different sort of way: the terror in realising that everyone around you is dying. The first one was rather flawed, but this one is just tired. My rating: 60%.
Free Birds (2013)
DUMB! This is DUMB! And yes, of course I knew going in that it was going to be, but what I saw… oh, God! The whole thing is just one mind-bogglingly stupid moment after another! It's not funny either – not at all – which calls all the more attention to the stupidity and, for me, is the reason it all fails so badly. Practically every single scene had me facepalming! It just blows my mind that anyone would greenlight this, would invest money in it! This movie is my poster child for the sorry state of children's entertainment these days! It's all just… AAARRRGGGHHH!!! WHYYYYYYY?!!!!! My rating: turkey – pun most certainly not intended!
Don Jon (2013)
This movie seems much more truthful and grounded in reality than most other romantic movies I've seen. It acknowledges that relationships aren't one-sided and there's a lot of work involved. Both Jon and Barbara are really selfish in their own ways: Jon for only being in it for his own pleasure, and Barbara for trying to take control of Jon and change who he is. Also, on a more personal note, when Jon says Barbara is the most beautiful thing he's ever seen… it's Scarlett Johansson, so I'm right there with him! :) It's a good movie, and I hope Joseph Gordon-Levitt comes up with some more ideas so he can write and direct again. :) My rating: 75%.
The Counsellor (2013)
I know there are people who like this movie, but the majority seem to hate it. While I didn't totally dislike it myself, it definitely failed to draw me in. Most of the dialogue scenes didn't seem to advance the plot any, so they came off as a bit pretentious. And, since it's all to do with business dealings (albeit shady ones), I didn't have a clue what these people were talking about anyway – though I could grasp basically what was at stake. While several scenes are superficially shocking, the characters are so boring that I never truly cared. Overall, it was mostly just kind of underwhelming. My rating: 40%.