A couple of movies today that probably aren’t anyone’s favorites but I quite liked the alien abduction movie. Aliens freak me out. Don’t experiment on me!!
As Above, So Below (2014)
Directed by John Erick Dowdle
Starring: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, François Civil, Marion Lambert, Ali Marhyar
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It is presented as found footage of a documentary crew’s experience exploring the Catacombs of Paris and was loosely based on the seven layers of Hell.
This was disappointing. I have a fascination with the catacombs in Paris. I’ve been there and walking through row upon row of skulls & bones is a pretty freaky experience so I can see why it has inspired horror movies. But they have yet to make a good horror movie set there. There was a truly dreadful 2007 movie called Catacombs, starring Shannyn Sossamon & Pink, that I would never recommend to anyone. I actually bought that stupid DVD just because I’d been wanting a horror movie to be set in the catacombs. From what I remember, though, it did at least manage to be a little creepy.
As Above, So Below is certainly the better film of the two but it’s such a weird mishmash of genres that it just didn’t work for me. And it’s not creepy enough. I think a movie with this setting needs to be pure horror but this movie had a sort of Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider thing mixed in with the horror. And then some weird supernatural stuff which is something I normally love but was just too dumb in this case. And the characters were okay but extremely underdeveloped while our lead girl was a tad unlikeable (although the actress was fine). Oh, it’s also a “found footage” film, which not everyone likes (I don’t mind found footage). Oh yeah – there’s also some weird religious stuff going on & ancient artefacts & that kind of shit. I wanted to like this movie but the weird Lara Croft thing going on with the main girl was just awkward. I guess I was expecting a more straightforward horror film but I also give the movie credit for trying to do something a little different.
My Rating: 5.5/10
Dark Skies (2013)
Directed & Written by Scott Stewart
Starring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, J. K. Simmons
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) As the Barrett family’s peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them, one which may have arrived from beyond the stars.
This was fine for a horror about aliens. We’ve not had a horror movie involving aliens experimenting on us in a while. This sub genre was a big thing at one point! I’ve always found the alien abduction movies pretty effectively creepy & thought this movie was an okay example of this type of film. Maybe I liked it as the whole alien abduction thing really scared me as a young kid. I honestly thought I’d be abducted & experimented on. Seriously. I think I watched way too much old sci-fi and original Twilight Zone episodes as a kid. I also like Keri Russell as an actress (love the film Waitress). The family were likeable (as far as horror movies go – it’s not the best genre for character development) & the story was fine & it was fairly creepy. Good enough.
The film adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s novel The Snowman is out today in the UK & out October 20th in the US. It was directed by Tomas Alfredson and stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer and J. K. Simmons. Here’s my review of the book…
**Quick edit to say I wrote this review before the reviews came out for The Snowman movie. Ohhhh.. Reviews are NOT good!**
The Snowman by Jo Nesbø Norwegian: Snømannen
What It’s About: (via Amazon) On a cold winter night, a young boy wakes to find his mother missing. The house is empty but in the garden outside he finds his mother’s favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of the snowman that appeared in their garden that day.
As Harry Hole and his team begin their investigation they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years. Is there a link between the disappearances and a menacing letter Harry was sent months earlier?
When a second woman disappears it seems his suspicions are confirmed. For the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his home turf; a killer who will drive him to the brink of insanity…
Murder & crime stories are really not at all my sort of thing but I’ve been spending 2017 reading books that are being made into films so I decided to give this one a try. I probably won’t go to the film but I’ll Netflix it at the very least, mainly because Michael Fassbender is a hottie. Netflix & chill with Fassbender! Oh yeah, there’s one other reason I decided to read this: I quite liked the film Headhunters, also from a Jo Nesbo book. Good movie – I recommend it.
As for this book, I’d have to say it’s a good crime thriller and had some inventive murders (if you’re the kind of psycho who’s into that sort of stuff). 😉 I didn’t realize it was part of a series: the “Harry Hole” series, following the life & cases of detective Harry Hole. I don’t know how necessary it is to read the other books first (it looks like The Snowman is the seventh). I didn’t feel like I was missing anything as far as the murder mystery went. I’m assuming it’s a case unconnected to others, although there were some references to previous cases. The only thing I felt I was missing was knowing anything about Harry Hole & his relationships with the other characters prior to this book, such as his ex-girlfriend & her son who were clearly a big part of previous book(s). I still enjoyed the story but suppose I had less of a connection to the characters than readers of the entire series would have.
If you like the look of the below trailer and prefer to read a book before seeing the movie, I do recommend this one. I’m not an expert on this genre but it’s a got a good murder mystery that keeps you guessing and I got to know the characters just well enough to start to care about what would happen to them. I’ve not rated it more highly since it’s not my type of thing but I’d think any fans of this genre should definitely like it.
My Rating: 3/5
The Snowman movie trailer (Fassbender is so hot…):
Books I’ve Read So Far In 2017 (ranked from least favorite to favorite…)
I have four quickie kids’ film reviews for you today! I promise they’ll be quick. Why? Because I barely remember three of them.
I’ve just seen Kung Fu Panda 3 so that review will be a little longer than the rest. You see, I get a little annoyed when I look at the pages on my blog & see that I still have some movies that I watched but never reviewed on the 2014 page & the 2015 page (never mind the 2016 page! I’m way behind). It’s especially annoying that the only movies that I actually went to the cinema to see but then didn’t review were these three 2014 kids’ movies. They were so “meh” that I guess I couldn’t be bothered.
So, here we go! I’ll finally say something about them two years later. I’m limiting myself to one paragraph each for the three older ones (plus my kid’s opinion on each). But let’s start with the longer review for the most current film (and by far the best of the four)…
Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson & Alessandro Carloni
Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, J. K. Simmons, James Hong, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson
From: DreamWorks Animation
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.
I actually thought this movie was really good. As far as DreamWorks movies go, at least. I’ve stated here before how I see DreamWorks movies as strictly kids’ films while I view Pixar & most Disney ones as just being great films overall for every age group. Like, I wouldn’t feel weird discussing both WALL-E & Citizen Kane in the same breath. Except, I’ve not seen Citizen Kane… Never mind.
What I liked about Kung Fu Panda 3 is that, while it has a message as does every kids’ movie, it didn’t let the message get in the way of the movie being fun and actually making kids laugh. The previous movie we went to as a family was Disney’s Zootropolis (aka Zootopia) & I did NOT expect to think a DreamWorks film was far better than a Disney one! But that’s the case this time.
Kung Fu Panda 3 hasn’t forgotten that, first & foremost, it’s meant to be aimed at kids. I felt that Zootropolis completely forgot this while trying to drive its message home with a convoluted plot and uninteresting characters. But Kung Fu Panda 3 isn’t dumbed down for kids, either, which is a big pet peeve of mine. Kids aren’t stupid & shouldn’t be treated that way. The jokes were all age-appropriate without being dumb but also not being too grown-up like things such as the Godfather references in Zootropolis.
I have to admit that Kung Fu Panda 3 was even enjoyable to me as an adult who probably wouldn’t watch many animated films not made by Disney or Pixar if I didn’t have a kid. I do love Jack Black (I don’t care about the haters!) and think he’s been perfect as Po in all these films. I think all the characters are strong & really like the setting and the look. In this one, the baby pandas are adorable & even had grumpy me going “aww”. The baddie in this one was also pretty cool, as were his storyline & all the chi stuff. Plus I’m a sucker for the color green. Here’s the baddie:
I’d even go so far as to say that I like the Kung Fu Panda movies the most out of all the ones made by DreamWorks. I find Shrek a little overrated and I’d say that the How To Train Your Dragon films are possibly their “best” work but they’ve never really clicked with me at all (or the kid). But all three of us have enjoyed each of the three Kung Fu Panda movies.
My Rating: 7/10
My Kid’s Opinion: She liked this movie a lot & giggled through the whole thing. She was far more enthusiastic about this one than she was after walking out of Zootropolis, which she called “not very good”. Her favorite part was Po doing his “chitty chitty chat chat” thing that she’s been annoying us with ever since (thanks a lot, Jack Black!). She also loved the baby pandas, especially when they ate everything in sight. She’s not watched the first two films since we went to see them but this one has renewed her interest (and mine!) in watching those again. I’d happily pick them up on DVD now – I think this is a very solid trilogy from DreamWorks.
The House Of Magic (2013) (US Title: Thunder And The House Of Magic)
Directed by Jeremy Degruson & Ben Stassen
Starring: Cinda Adams, George Babbit, Murray Blue, Kathleen Browers, Joey Camen, Grant George, Shanelle Gray, Nina Grillo, Kyle Hebert
From: nWave Pictures, StudioCanal
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The House of Magic is a 2013 3D Belgian-French computer-animated fantasy-comedy film. The film focuses on an abandoned young cat who seeks shelter in the home of an old, retired magician with his automatons and gizmos.
I admit to not fully remembering the plot of this strange little Belgian/French film (which was in English but I assume originally in French?) two years later. But I clearly remember the kind old magician, the cat he adopts, and the man’s REALLY cool magical toys (automatons and gizmos) such as that adorable lightbulb dude in the photo at the very top of this post. I also remember some great songs being used quite prominently (The Lovecats by The Cure & the always catchy House Of Fun by Madness). It’s not some big Disney, DreamWorks, etc production and that does show but I still thought that the characters, the music, and especially those inventive toys were pretty damn good! I wonder if those who made this have gone on to do more animated films? I’d like to see this sort of thing with a bigger budget. It’s a very sweet & charming film from what I remember. I wouldn’t complain at being made to watch it again.
My Rating: 6/10
My Kid’s Opinion: She doesn’t now remember much of this but does remember all those really cool toys that I mentioned above. She said she’d like to watch it again too (fine with me – I’ll pick up the DVD if I see it).
Rio 2 (2014)
Directed by Carlos Saldanha
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Andy García, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, Kristin Chenoweth, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, will.i.am, Jamie Foxx
From: Blue Sky Studios
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) It’s a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids after they’re hurtled from Rio de Janeiro to the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel, and meets his father-in-law.
Wow. I really remember very little of this except that I think it was about saving the rainforest, right? I don’t remember the first one either – I only know that these Rio movies are very bright & colorful and have some big musical numbers that are okay. This is from Blue Sky, whose movies are quite similar to DreamWorks in that I see them strictly as films aimed at kids and only truly enjoyed by kids. The only Blue Sky one I really liked was The Peanuts Movie but that’s because I’m obsessed with Peanuts & the movie stayed very true to its spirit. Don’t get me wrong – these Rio movies aren’t bad. They’re very pretty to look at & not the worst way to spend a couple of hours with your kid but I don’t think they’re very memorable. I’d have to say that the Ice Age films are a stronger series from this studio as the characters are better. Also, could they get a more annoying set of voice actors for Rio? Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann & Kristin Chenoweth(!!)?? Ugh. I think I remember Eisenberg’s bird kids in this being quite cute, though…
My Rating: 5.5/10
My Kid’s Opinion: She says she liked this although she couldn’t remember the specifics of it now. She said “I liked the pink frog!” (Ugh. Kristin Chenoweth.) I think it’s proof that the Rio films are pretty & enjoyable enough while being watched but are ultimately forgettable.
Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
Directed by James Bobin
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, The Muppets
From: Walt Disney Pictures
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) While on a grand world tour, The Muppets find themselves wrapped into an European jewel-heist caper headed by a Kermit the Frog look-alike and his dastardly sidekick.
I grew up with The Muppet Show so I of course love The Muppets. Who doesn’t?! The Muppets movie in 2011 (2012 here) was pretty good. It was fun and managed to kind of capture the spirit of the original show (plus I like Amy Adams). But I found Muppets Most Wanted really disappointing even though it was great, as always, to see these beloved characters. The problem was the messy, boring story and the fact that I really didn’t like the main real-life stars. Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell & Tina Fey? How do you go from Amy Adams to some TV stars? Never been a fan of any of them (in fact, who is Ty Burrell anyway? That prick in Dawn Of The Dead??). I just think they made a real mess of this movie – I’ll stick to watching my DVDs of the original show.
My Rating: 5.5/10
My Kid’s Opinion: She remembers this one more than I thought she would! She remembers the plot & the evil Kermit with the mole. She likes The Muppets & says she liked this movie. Maybe I should give it another try…
This is her favorite Muppet-related thing. I agree:
**I’d like to finally take this opportunity to draw attention to a favorite blogger of mine here who does fantastic paintings of The Muppets (and loads of other awesome artwork with a focus on pop culture – but I first started following him because of The Muppets). Please have a look at Scott’s site at Mojoswork.com. You can see all his Muppets artwork HERE.
Scott – I’m sorry it took me two years to finally get around to doing this review! Let me know if you want me to add any more info or if you want me to include a specific Muppets image you’ve done. 🙂 Oh! Scott does a lot of wrestling & sports stuff as well and I thought his History Of The WWF was absolutely amazing despite knowing nothing of that sort of thing myself (MIB – you should really check this out).
I figure I should end this with some Madness since I have House Of Fun in my head after talking about The House Of Magic. I miss this era of music!
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, Shakira
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Production company: Walt Disney Pictures
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy.
I’d seen very positive reviews for this but I made sure to read very little about it & only really looked at the ratings to get the overall vibe that people really liked this one. I mean, this has an 8.4 IMDB rating & is currently ranked at #150 out of the supposed Top 250 of all time. Sorry, but…. No. I still haven’t actually read any of the reviews for this so I’m not sure what people see in it that I clearly missed but I was very disappointed with this outing from Disney. And I’m, for the most part, a big fan of Disney. Sure, it has a lovely message and all that but it’s a shame that Disney let the message get in the way of actually making a good film…
Where do I start? I honestly don’t want this to turn into some long rant (plus I’m a little worried about getting a negative reaction from people). I don’t have the energy to now go & read all the reviews of this here on WordPress plus it’s been out for a few weeks in America and people always just want to move onto the next brand new release. I’ll happily read any comments from anyone who disagrees with me, though. We’ll discuss it & maybe you can talk me into liking this one a little more!
I admit that when a movie has the Disney or Pixar name attached to it, I have much higher standards for it so I know I’m probably being a little too harsh on this movie. It’s not a “bad” kids’ movie. Yes, I’m aware that Zootropolis is first & foremost for kids but it’s still hard to not compare it to something like Wreck-It Ralph, which is a thoroughly enjoyable movie for the entire family. Or The Lego Movie! That wasn’t Disney or Pixar but it was a great, funny film AND it even had a rather deep & meaningful message in the same way Zootropolis does. But the difference is that it felt like The Lego Movie first focused on having an excellent script & characters & making a really fun family film and then concentrated on the film’s fantastic message. With Zootropolis, it feels like the filmmakers came up with the message they wanted to convey first and then tried to write a story around it, resulting in a rather convoluted and far too grown-up plot that I don’t think many kids will have enjoyed that much anyway.
In the end, I think the extremely forced nature of the storyline takes away from the message they’re trying to shove down our kids’ throats. No, wait… To be honest, I think it’s the parents who are having the message shoved down their throats this time. And it’s a message I most certainly agree with but, sorry Disney, you aren’t going to change the ways of the world with a mediocre kids’ film and messy story. I think your message will have been lost on the kids, will have completely gone over the heads of the adults you’re targeting, and will have simply annoyed the adults who do agree with your message and don’t need you to preach to them.
I’ve not yet fully discussed Zootropolis with my kid but I know she understood the message behind The Lego Movie whereas, as I said, I don’t think this one managed to at all get its point across to her and to its young target audience (and she’s very bright, if I do say so myself). 😉 Here’s my attempt to discuss the movie with her: Me: “What was your favorite part of the movie?” My kid: “I don’t know….” *pause* “I don’t think Zootropolis was very good”. Well, I think that kind of says it all.
My Rating: 6/10
P.S. – Disney, please don’t stick pop stars, crappy songs, and current trends such as stupid phone apps into your movies. You’ve instantly dated your film. Stick with Pixar, who know how to make a timeless classic. The worst thing I can say about Zootropolis is that I walked out of it feeling like I’d just watched a DreamWorks movie. That’s a step in very much the wrong direction.
J. K. Simmons
Courtney B. Vance
Running time: 126 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor, but when he arrives in 1984, nothing is as he expected it to be.
First of all, The Terminator is a favorite movie of mine and Kyle Reese is one of my biggest movie crushes (he’s in second place on that list although, at my current age, I’d put him at number one as I’m still totally in love with him). In fact, for years I had planned on naming a son I might have “Kyle” until South Park came along & ruined that idea. Second of all, sequels and remakes annoy the hell out of me (well, some are good – like Terminator 2 and Aliens! Yes, I was in love with Michael Biehn in Aliens too…). Anyway, my point is that I do NOT like favorite movies & favorite movie characters of mine being f*%ked with. It pisses me off! Finally, I hate stupid spellings (screw you, “Genisys!”). So I was feeling very unsure of Terminator Genisys. On the way out the door to see this, I said to my hubby “Let’s go see this shitty thing”. But I still had to see it because of my love for the first two Terminator films. Well, shit. I didn’t hate it….
Really. I kind of enjoyed this movie. I did! WTF?! I was expecting to hate it. I actually liked it much more than the third & fourth films that I can’t even remember the titles of at the moment because I so completely put them out of my mind. Now, I should make it clear that this movie isn’t that great and it sure as shit doesn’t come even close to matching the brilliance of the first two. However, if you go into it without expecting it to be as good as the first two, maybe you’ll at least get some enjoyment out of it. I’ve watched this one much later than the rest of you and I’ve seen all your reviews pop up but I have yet to read any so I’m not sure what the general consensus is but I’m guessing that most of you don’t like it. That’s fine! I wouldn’t argue with anyone who hates this movie as I can understand why. But, sometimes, even grumpy old movie lovers like me can enjoy a movie that they know they probably shouldn’t. For me, it’s probably just because I liked seeing the characters of Sarah Connor & Kyle Reese once again in the same, yet somewhat altered, situation. I love their story from the first film so I got to kind of relive that again in a different sort of way. It should piss me off but it didn’t and, luckily, I don’t think it’s ruined the first movie for me as I’ll still only really ever think of the first two films when I think of Terminator. To me, I’ll always just see this one as more of a “reimagining” than as a part of the series.
The thing I was most worried about with this film was that they wouldn’t get Sarah Connor or Kyle Reese “right”. How can they top the original people to play them?! They can’t, of course. However, I thought they were both fine. Sarah Connor is so different in the second film to how she is in the first but I never had a problem with the wussy, girlier Sarah in the first movie – they actually almost went overboard in T2 in making her a little too tough (for me. believe me, though, I like a strong female character!). Clarke’s Sarah is somewhere between the two and I liked her just fine. I do love Clarke as Daenerys in Game Of Thrones, yes, but I didn’t find that distracting as she looks & acts quite different in that than she does in Genisys. Yeah – I was fine with Clarke as Sarah Connor… I bought into her more than I did when Lena “Ceresei” Headey played her in the TV show. However, I was more worried about how Jai Courtney would do as Kyle Reese. I’d only see him in Divergent and hadn’t taken any notice of him. I was prepared to pretty much hate him in Genisys. Well, he’s no Michael Biehn and I don’t want to have his babies like I wanted to have “original timeline” Reese’s, but… Hell, he was fine! I ended up liking him. He’s not super hot but neither was Biehn. And, to be fair, Biehn was never exactly going to win any Oscars, was he? Biehn got the damaged, sensitive thing so right, though – he was perfect in that role and defined Kyle Reese for me. Courtney doesn’t quite manage the “damaged” thing as well but he’s likeable and someone you can imagine this new, tougher Sarah falling for. He even has a slight sense of humor, unlike the first Reese, which at first made no sense but then did when you think about the timey-wimey time travel thing going on (I’ll avoid spoilers as always but these aren’t the exact same characters we already know). There was actually quite a bit of humor thrown into this, mostly involving Schwarzenegger, and it worked fairly well. At least, as well as in T2 where it was also a little cheesy in a couple places.
Oh yeah! Arnold Schwarzenegger! I’ve not even mentioned him. Lol! I’m such a girl…. Yeah, I clearly love the Kyle/Sarah story. So sue me. I have to be girly sometimes. 😉 Schwarzenegger was good! He was his usual self, really. It wasn’t “weird” seeing him older (which they quickly explained with one little line thrown in). It was great seeing him in this – I always preferred Schwarzenegger to Sylvester Stallone. Schwarzenegger was in far better movies (Terminator, Predator, Kindergarten Cop!). I would think male Schwarzenegger fans will love seeing him in this. But what do I know? I’m a girl who just spent ages talking about Kyle Reese. Oh! We get a little of this:
Awesome. Love it. One of the most iconic things in movie history. We also get plenty of action – the action is similar to the level we got in T2. I enjoyed all that “boy stuff” too. The (first two) Terminator movies kick ass and I love them. I also love the “simplicity” of the story in the first film whereas Genisys is getting too convoluted. Plus.. they didn’t use the Terminator MUSIC until the end credits. How can you not use such greatness?! One of the best ever movie themes! But, as a lover of the first film, I loved all the little references plus certain scenes are re-enacted as some things are still the same in this timeline (although I do have to admit that seeing one iconic scene re-enacted poorly was just a bit too weird). I sure did love seeing Kyle in the same clothing again, though! Shit… I’m talking about Kyle again. It was fun seeing J. K. Simmons – he sure is popular at the moment but he sure was wasted in his role. I did not like Jason Clarke as John Connor. I’m not talking about what they did with the character (although I wasn’t really a fan of that either) but I don’t think he was the right actor for the role. And, speaking of John Connor, WHY oh WHY did they spoil that big reveal in the movie’s trailer???? Seriously! I won’t say what the big reveal is as some people don’t watch trailers but that has to be one of the biggest spoilers in a trailer ever. Ridiculous – the reveal isn’t even until the final third of the film. Oh well – at least this film’s main three characters worked out okay as that was the most important thing to me. I don’t actually care so much about the story in this – the story has already been done to death. But the relationships worked well, the action was fun (although it’s certainly no Mad Max: Fury Road), and I could possibly fall in love with this Kyle Reese if the first movie didn’t exist.
Terminator Genisys: I enjoyed it! I’d actually rank it higher than a lot of other big blockbusters this year, such as Jurassic World and Avengers: Age Of Ultron. I’m not saying it’s necessarily better – I just enjoyed it a lot more. I make no apologies. These things happen! I can’t be snobby all the time… 🙂
My Rating: 7.5/10
Is There A Scene After The Credits?: There’s just a mid-credits scene that’s really nothing too special – just one of those annoying “we’re setting up a sequel!” moments. You wouldn’t be missing much if you missed it.
J. K. Simmons
Running time: 106 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) 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.
This is another one of those “Oscar Season” movies where the performances are a bit better than the movie itself. Well, the performance from J. K. Simmons is, at least. However, I did at least enjoy this movie which wasn’t so much the case with Foxcatcher or especially Birdman.
J. K. Simmons is great as the music instructor who goes too far in pushing his students to be the best. He’s SUCH an amazing prick! He’s like R Lee Ermey’s Sergeant Hartman shouting horribly inappropriate insults at the soldiers in Full Metal Jacket. He’s so horrible yet so compelling you can’t help but watch & cringe as he reduces his talented students to tears. I think he’s certainly deserving of his best supporting actor Oscar nomination & think he’s the likely winner in that category. Then we have Miles Teller… What’s with this kid and why do I hate him for no specific reason? He just has such an unlikeable face. Is that rude? I don’t care – he won’t read this. 😉 Maybe I’m still annoyed that I watched that stupid Footloose remake he was in. Or maybe it’s because I couldn’t wait to see The Spectacular Now as I’d heard it was just like Say Anything so I watched it and it was NOTHING like Say Anything plus Miles Teller’s character was a prick. Lloyd Dobler wasn’t an alcoholic prick! So, anyway… I don’t like Miles Teller. Sorry Miles Teller! You’re really pretty good in this, though. Good job, dude!
As for the movie, I did enjoy it. I’m not at all a fan of jazz (except for Vince Guaraldi “Snoopy” jazz, which kicks ass). I played the saxophone for years but I totally sucked. I also know nothing about drummers other than that they spontaneously combust. However, I’m still a big fan of music so this movie did appeal to me anyway. It’s a difficult one in that the two main characters are hard to like. Teller’s character is extremely ambitious, which you can respect, but it means he puts his drumming before everything (and everyone) else. Oh, and Paul Reiser is in this – that asshole Burke from Aliens! It’s a pretty intense movie at times & it’s interesting watching how far Simmons & Teller’s characters are willing to go for success. And, wow – do drummers’ hands really bleed that much?! Ew. I suppose they do…
I’d definitely recommend Whiplash to musicians or to anyone with an interest in music. It’s also a good character study & I’d recommend it to those who love to watch a great performance. Teller does a very good job in this but J. K. Simmons steals the show (in my opinion). Whiplash doesn’t have a chance of winning the Best Picture Oscar but it’s a strong film with great performances & I enjoyed it.