The Visit (2015) Review

The Visit (2015)

Directed & Written by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two siblings become increasingly frightened by their grandparents’ disturbing behavior while visiting them on vacation.

My Opinion:

Like a lot of people, I was a fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies. At first. When they were good. But then they turned shit. The Sixth Sense was brilliant & I remained a fan through everything up until that stupid Lady In The Water movie (I really liked The Village – why don’t many people like that one?). After The Happening, I gave up on his films completely (and it sounds like it was good that I did – The Last Airbender & After Earth sound terrible). Well, Devil was okay (he wrote the story).

Anyway, I heard that the good old M. Night Shyamalan was finally back with The Visit so, although I didn’t exactly rush to see it, I watched it as soon as I could at home. Hmm… It’s certainly not as good as his best stuff but it’s not completely terrible. It had a lot of potential in the beginning but a ridiculous final 20 minutes or so ruined it for me. Shame. Here – I’m bored so I’m going to rank all his movies that I’ve seen (I’ll include Devil). Worst to best:

Lady In The Water
The Happening
The Visit
Devil
Signs
Unbreakable
The Village
The Sixth Sense

I’ll start by discussing The Good Things about The Visit:

The Kids. I thought the kids were quite likable & they actually felt like real kids as opposed to when kids in movies are so clearly “written by adults”. Maybe Shyamalan is just good at directing kids as Haley Joel Osment was so good in The Sixth Sense (but did seem too grown-up for his age). I liked the relationship between the two siblings & I liked that they were smart without being too smart. They’re still just kids & most kids wouldn’t know how to handle the bizarre situation they find themselves in. Their characters & how they deal with things felt more realistic than in most horror movies. The boy has an annoying tendency to rap, though.

Nana. Actress Deanna Dunagan plays this character brilliantly. I’ve never seen her in anything before – she should be in more stuff. It’s like Shyamalan said “can you play a crazy lady?” and she was all “f*^k yeah!” and, wow, she really went to town with this character. Yahtzee!!! I couldn’t help but laugh as she’s so totally over-the-top but you can’t say the actress didn’t give it her all.

The found footage aspect. I realize that saying this will automatically turn some people off of this movie but this plot device doesn’t bother me if used in the right way. To be honest, I completely forgot this was a found footage film so I can say that it clearly wasn’t a distraction. The kids want to make a documentary of the visit with their grandparents & this style actually worked just fine for the movie.

The first half. The Visit really did start out well. It had a good atmosphere & creepy feel. It was fun when the grandparents were doing small odd things that let us know that something wasn’t quite right. There’s a scene under a porch that was pretty intense & claustrophobic. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going on & what Shyamalan’s signature twist would be.

The message. There’s actually a fairly good message of sorts at the end concerning family & letting things go.

Now for the unfortunate Bad Things:

The setup. The mom hasn’t talked to her parents in years so her kids have never met them. But then she suddenly decides to send her kids to them for a week after they contact her (or the kids?) out of nowhere (I can’t remember exactly). It just seemed a weak setup. I don’t think a mom would be like “Okay – I’ll send my kids to these people I haven’t spoken to in years because I was wanting a vacation & some sex with my boyfriend anyway”.

The mom. Speaking of the mom, she was just too flaky. I liked the close relationship she had with her kids & they seemed to have good chemistry. Which made the setup all the more unbelievable…

Pop Pop & the excessive craziness of the grandparents. Nana was a lot of fun to watch but, really, the grandparents are so over-the-top crazy by the end that the movie ceases being scary & ends up being laughable. Pretty sure I’ve given nothing away there as trailers, etc, all made it obvious that these two are NOT right in the head. If this was meant as a horror comedy, the ending kind of works. I feel like I read somewhere that this was Shyamalan’s intention but the movie doesn’t seem to ever be defined as a “horror comedy” anywhere online. He does often go over-the-top at the end of his films but I thought The Visit went a bit too far. Especially with Pop Pop, whose character I didn’t enjoy in the same way I did Nana’s. Speaking of Pop Pop….

The diaper thing. Gross. Was that necessary?

The last half (but especially the final 20 minutes or so). Well, I’ve pretty much covered this above. It’s too over-the-top & the grandparents are too crazy. It rubbed shit all over the decent first half of the film.

The twist. Don’t worry – I won’t give it away for those who still may want to see this. But it means I can’t really say much about it. I’m just thinking that Shyamalan was either very lazy with this one OR deceptively brilliant for making it what it was. I dunno. This could actually end up in my Good OR Bad category depending on my mood. Maybe I’ll change my mind. I might. Because I’m CRAZY like that. Yahtzee!!!

Summary:

The Visit had potential & I was really hoping to like another Shyamalan movie again. If he had kept things more subtle & creepy at the end like it was starting out, I’d have definitely liked this more. If it was truly meant as a horror comedy, I’d be slightly more forgiving but I don’t think it’s clear that it’s meant to be this way, which will have probably left a lot of viewers feeling slightly confused by the end. However, there are some strong characters with Nana being fun to watch & the kids being likable – I think we all get sick of the hateful characters that are so common in horror movies. Overall, The Visit was very flawed but it was also just good enough to potentially make me watch whatever Shyamalan makes next if it looks decent enough. He may just win back another fan if his next film is truly a return to form like people claimed this one was & which I sadly believed might be true before those final 20 minutes. (His next film is a movie called Split starring James McAvoy. It’s getting VERY good buzz but I’m trying to not get my hopes up too much…)

My Rating: 6/10

Okay, I gotta include this clip…

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Red Dawn (2012), People Like Us & We’re The Millers Movie Reviews

Here’s another trio of super short reviews of movies that I watched two years ago & barely remember now! What’s the point, you ask? Well, it’s annoying me that they’re still sitting HERE on my list of Movies Watched In 2014 without reviews attached to them. So, let’s get this over with. One paragraph each! Don’t expect any in-depth analysis. Not that you ever get that from this blog anyway… 😉

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Red Dawn (2012)

Directed by Dan Bradley

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise, Brad Garrett, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers.

My Opinion:

Wow. It’s bad enough that so many pointless remakes keep getting made but it’s especially frustrating when they’re complete & utter shit like this Red Dawn remake. Don’t worry – I’m not going to be all “They shouldn’t have touched Red Dawn because the original is a classic!” since that was never an absolute favorite of mine & I’m not all precious about it like I am with a lot of other 80’s movies. But why take a mediocre movie & remake it into something 1,000 times worse?? Oh well! I only watched this because sexy Chris Hemsworth is in it (with his short hair – I prefer him that way). I don’t remember now who lives & who dies but I do remember completely losing interest and not giving a shit about any of the characters. I also remember that I watched this just after getting Netflix & they seemed to have a horrible selection back then (it’s much better now) so I wasted too much time on shit like this & that stupid ATM movie. Speaking of which, that weird little Josh Peck was in that one as well. He had a really bad year for movies between Red Dawn & ATM! Screw Red Dawn. Screw ATM. You know what Josh Peck movie was actually pretty good? Mean Creek. Just watch that instead. Don’t watch this. Not even for short hair Chris Hemsworth. He looks the same in The Cabin In The Woods & that’s much better. Do a double feature of Mean Creek & The Cabin In The Woods! Don’t watch Red Dawn.

My Rating: 3.5/10

People Like Us (2012)

Directed by Alex Kurtzman

Starring: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Michael Hall D’Addario, Michelle Pfeiffer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
While settling his recently deceased father’s estate, a salesman discovers he has a sister whom he never knew about, leading both siblings to re-examine their perceptions about family and life choices.

My Opinion:

This was a decent movie – I’m not sure why I never reviewed it. Movies about family relationships don’t always appeal to me but this one, where Chris Pine finds out that he has a half-sister & nephew he never knew about, worked pretty well. I can’t stand Chris Pine but really like Elizabeth Banks plus the boy who played her son (Michael Hall D’Addario) was good so that helped. Oh! And Michelle Pfeiffer was in this too as Pine’s mother – love her. It was partly based on the life of the director, who first met his half-sister at the age of 30, so it probably also helped that the script was based on personal experience. I also liked this little bit of trivia HERE about the music memorabilia of Pine’s musician father in the film belonging to the record producer father of one of the script’s writers:

Much of the music business memorabilia in the “Jerry’s Study” set belongs to Jody Lambert’s father Dennis Lambert, a Songwriter’s Hall of Fame nominee whose hits as writer and/or producer include “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got)”, “Rhinestone Cowboy”, “Baby Come Back” and “Nightshift”.

Anyway, People Like Us isn’t going to change the world but it’s the type of movie that’s perfect to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Good performances from those involved & I liked the story.

My Rating: 6.5/10

We’re The Millers (2013)

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Molly Quinn, Ed Helms

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A veteran pot dealer creates a fake family as part of his plan to move a huge shipment of weed into the U.S. from Mexico.

My Opinion:

This movie is really not my type of thing and I don’t know why I watched it. I think I just wanted a simple movie on while I did stuff around the house plus I think I still kind of live in the hope that a modern comedy may actually turn out to be funny. Nope! This is yet another stupid modern “comedy” that failed to make me even crack a smile. Maybe I’m just old & bitter since I’ve liked hardly any comedy films since 1992? Comedy isn’t my favorite genre but I think the fact that so few movies are ever actually funny anymore is to blame for me going off the genre in recent years. Wait! I may have cracked a tiny smile when Will Poulter’s balls were bitten by a spider & they swelled up to an unnatural size while the movie showed us his whole package in gory detail. That was brave of Poulter as I’m sure a lot of people think “spider balls!” anytime they seen him in anything now. Although, I’m pretty sure we were seeing stunt balls. How does one get a job as a stunt penis? Anyway, maybe this movie wasn’t crude enough for me if that’s the only memorable part for me. I mean, I do like the Jackass movies & Bad Grandpa so, what the hell, I can’t figure out my taste in comedy. But I thought We’re The Millers was shit. Except for spider balls being mildly funny…

My Rating: 4/10

Tomorrowland (2015) Review

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Tomorrowland (2015) (aka Tomorrowland: A World Beyond in the UK)

Directed by Brad Bird

Starring:
George Clooney
Hugh Laurie
Britt Robertson
Raffey Cassidy
Thomas Robinson
Tim McGraw
Kathryn Hahn
Keegan-Michael Key

Running time: 130 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of a former boy genius (Clooney) and a young girl (Robertson), who travel to an ambiguous dimension known as “Tomorrowland”, where their actions directly affect the world and themselves.

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My Opinion:

Damn. Damn! Damn damn damn! Tomorrowland was one of my most anticipated movies this year. In fact, it’s the one I chose over everything else (even Star Wars!) when Luke over at Oracle Of Film asked the question: What is your most anticipated movie?”. Damn. Is it too late to change my answer?? What a disappointment.

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I desperately wanted to like this movie. It seemed to have everything going for it: Live action Disney sci-fi directed by Brad Bird! Everyone loves Bird’s Ratatouille and of course The Incredibles but my own personal favorite of his is The Iron Giant and I think I was hoping that Tomorrowland would have the heart that that one does. Unfortunately, Tomorrowland feels very cold & sterile and most of the characters, other than teenager Casey played by Britt Robertson, aren’t very likeable. In fact, George Clooney’s character is so grumpy & unlikeable at first that I wasn’t able to warm to him at all, especially after he knocks Casey off his front porch in a way that could’ve broken her damn neck. They explore his past to show us that he was once an optimistic “dreamer” but don’t really explain why all that changed. We’re given hints but not enough to make us care.

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I don’t know if this is SPOILER TERRITORY so look away for the rest of this paragraph if you still want to see this movie. A lot of the rather convoluted story revolves around an android girl and she’s almost as unlikeable as Clooney’s character. This movie reminded me in a lot of ways of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which also felt very cold & sterile and was a bit convoluted and unsure of its message. However, Haley Joel Osment was at least very good as the “robot boy” and you cared about his character. It IS possible to make us like “robot people”! Loads of movies have managed it. Heck, even D.A.R.Y.L. managed it! (Yes! I got another D.A.R.Y.L. mention into one of my reviews!). But in Tomorrowland, I didn’t care at all about this little android girl and her world so I didn’t really care if Clooney’s & Robertson’s characters would be able to save it or not. I should point out, though, that I don’t think any of this was the fault of the actress (Raffey Cassidy) as I think she was very good in a poorly written role. Oh! By the way – Hugh Laurie is in this too in a rather stupid & pointless role. He’s really not even worth mentioning. Although I guess I just did…

I’ll mention that there’s quite a bit of violence against the androids, which may disturb young kids as the androids look completely human and the very young may not understand that they’re just robots. This includes one sudden & shocking Final Destination/Meet Joe Black moment that felt out of place in a Disney film.

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I’ll say that the one thing I did like about this was Britt Robertson. I know I watched this silly show that she was on for a while (The Secret Circle) and she was the one thing that really stood out. I’m not surprised that it seems she may be on her way to bigger roles now and, although she’s 25, she has a very young look which means she can play a teenager in something like this without it being embarrassing like Olivia Newton John in Grease. Her character helps save Tomorrowland from being a total disaster, at least.

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Summary:

Tomorrowland has a convoluted plot set in a cold & sterile environment where everyone (besides the main teenage girl) is unlikeable and the audience won’t be able to buy into them or care about their fate. Its story is far too complicated for young kids plus the level of violence was a bit surprising for a Disney “family film”. It’s hard to figure out who this movie is aimed at as the confusing story won’t make any kids like it (even I was confused by the end as to what exactly was going on) and there’s not enough here for adults to enjoy either. I can’t see this being a movie that most homes with kids will own and that will get played over & over again, which is unusual for a Disney film. I know it’s very unlikely that I’ll ever see it again (and I have no desire to) and I highly doubt my kid will ever ask to watch it over and over again like Frozen or most of the Pixar films. The movie’s message gets lost in the confusing plot but, basically, it’s saying that we should all be “dreamers” and full of hope. It’s unfortunate that Tomorrowland can’t achieve what it clearly wants to as it isn’t going to actually inspire anyone. I’ll say the final scene & image are pretty good & is the closest the movie comes to achieving its vision but it doesn’t come even close to making up for the previous two hours of the film. I’m very disappointed but it won’t make me give up on Brad Bird as I think he’s very talented and hopefully has another The Iron Giant in him. I blame Damon Lindelof.

My Rating: 5/10

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