Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Goodbye Moviepass, Hello AMC Stubs A-List + 25 MINI REVIEWS


Hello all, it's been a long strange year so far.  I apologize for not keeping current with my reviews but now that I've finally ditched MoviePass I thought it was time to throw out rapid-fire thoughts on films I've seen this year.  Before I get to the mini-reviews, I wanted to explain my decision for bailing on the MoviePass subscription service.  Back in the day I was completely content with my $29.95 a month service of MoviePass, allowing me to see unlimited movies per month.  That price upped to $40 and that's when I decided to quit for the first time.  Since then. MoviePass went bonkers a little less than a year ago and offered the same plan annually at $89.  I though that was a total insane price and jumped at it, signing myself and my wife up for the plan.  Sure enough, that price was too good to be true as MoviePass has started altering it's terms of service on an almost weekly basis.  Here is the chronological rundown of what they started to change with our plan:


  • Only allowed movies to be seen once (my wife had abused this privilege prior in seeing Call Me By Your Name numerous times).
  • Required a picture to be taken of a ticket stub after each movie
  • Forced a user to not install an app on a different phone within 30 days of install
  • Prevented certain blockbuster movies from being seen on opening weekend
  • Forced users to only see one of 6 available movies a day on a rotating schedule
  • Limited movie viewing to 3 movies A MONTH instead of one A DAY
That last bullet was the LAST STRAW for me.  After months of never-ending service change emails I ended up cancelling and getting a prorated refund.  I still got more than my money's worth during the salad days of the MP plan.  So... I'm not going to just stop seeing mass amounts of movies just because MoviePass says so.  I've decided to move over to the AMC Stubs A-List plan.  This allows you to see up to 12 movies a month (3 a week) in 3D, IMAX, whatever for $20 a month.  This plan is actually cheaper than the original MoviePass monthly plan and while not unlimited, I don't think I ever really saw more than 12 movies a month when I had unlimited options.  The only difficulty for me now will be forcing myself to go to AMC theaters.  Thankfully i have a lot of AMC options around me and will just have to miss out on going to Regal Springfield and Angelika (two of my favorite theaters).  I also like the option now with the AMC plan of being able to reserve seats in advance.  With MP we had to arrive at movies early to make sure we secured good seats.


As I move to the AMC plan I'll try to be more current with my reviews.  Maybe i'll pair them down a bit so it's not so daunting to write a long 6 paragraph review with each film I see.  Now here is a rundown of what I've seen over the year in order of viewing date.  NOTE:  The Meg marks the end of MP and the start of AMC Stubs for me.

Thoroughbreds

This is an enjoyable teen murder conspiracy film thanks to the performance of the two leads (Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy) and Cory Finley's excellent direction.  3.5 JRs

Game Night

This one was fun, more entertaining than I thought and a great use of Jason Bateman (Ozark Season 2 coming sooooon) and Rachel McAdams in a goofy, dark night gone wrong plot.  Jessie Plemons was the main weak spot for me in this one, but give it a watch as a rental.  3.5 JRs

Isle of Dogs

Another whimsical Wes Anderson stop-motion extravaganza.  This movie was fun and featured great voice acting from a quality cast.  A bit long and dis-interesting at times but well worth a viewing.  3.5 JRs

Ready Player One

A real disappointment for me as I expected more from Spielberg with this intellectual property.  I didn't read the book, but the plot is pretty convoluted and the special effects were sub-par.  I wanted to like it but I really didn't.  2.5 JRs

A Quiet Place

Really one of the better films of the year.  Carefully crafted by John Krazinski and well acted by his wife Emily Blunt, the tension is ramped up throughout and the audio quirks work very well.  Kudos to the menacing creature design that could have either made or broke this film.  Thankfully it made it thrilling.  Well done.  4.5 JRs

Avengers Infinity War

A solid ensemble blockbuster that continues the overall MCU story and provides an extreme cliffhanger.  I wasn't as engaged by this film as I was with Black Panther, but I still had a good time keeping up with all of my favorite Marvel supes.  Kudos to Josh Brolin for doing a great job of bringing Thanos to life.  The ending was good but I feel it made this film feel like half a movie. 4 JRs

Tully

Charlize Theron can do no wrong in my book and she totally gives her best performance since Monster as a beaten-down bewildered mother in this film.  Mackenzie Davis is great in a supporting role and Ivan Reitman.  I would have liked this film more if they utilized Mark Duplass more.  He was completely marginalized here.  4 JRs

Deadpool 2

Funny as hell and a non-stop thrill ride.  I probably enjoyed this version more than the original.  I'm all in on a third installment if they make one.  4.5 JRs

Solo: A Star Wars Story

People love to hate on this film but I actually really enjoyed it.  It looked great, had excellent acting throughout and was a welcome addition to the overall Star Wars canon.  I'd love to see a follow-on film that focuses more on Lando and Han, but I'm sure that Disney won't allow this to happen.  4.5 JRs

First Reformed

An interesting look at faith and obsession as Ethan Hawke plays a priest of a small town historic church that changes his outlook on life after a series of events.  Amanda Seyfried is solid as his parisioner / love interest.  Hawke is so very convincing and effortless in this role.  It is probably the best performance of his career and could lead to Oscar consideration.  4 JRs

Hereditary

*click* is all I think about when I think back to this crazy weird film.  The sound the daughter makes throughout is really creepy and the overall film itself works well thanks to Toni Collette's amazing performance.  The movie has an ominous tone throughout but totally goes off the rails in the final act.  I hated the ending of this movie and that alone is enough to knock off a few rating points. 3.5 JRs

Incredibles 2

Pixar delivers again with a quality sequel that is big on laughs thanks to an emerging Jack Jack.  The story is not totally unique and there are definitely slow parts but I had a good time revisiting the superhero family dynamics presented on screen.  4 JRs

American Animals

My favorite movie of 2018 so-far.  This film, fittingly PRODUCED by MOVIEPASS, tells the true story of a group of college kids who decide to steal priceless books and paintings from a school library.  The brilliance of this film is in the direction of Bart Layton, a documentary filmmaker who uses a combination of the real life perpetrators combined with actors playing the roles in a docudrama hybrid.  The pace is well done and really brings the audience into the story.  Evan Peters shines once again in the lead role.  I'm sure most of you reading this missed this one in theaters, but please give it a view before the year is out.  This is original film-making at its finest.  5 JRs

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

The worst movie of the year so-far.  Just an awful script and after the action leaves the island it gets murky and confined to a stupid mansion.  The little girl in this film is a horrible actress and drags down the entire movie.  I really hope they turn things around with the third film in this series.  Avoid this at all costs.  0.5 JRs

Sicario Day of the Soldado

A worth successor to Denis Villeneuve's masterpiece, this film continues the story of federal agents played by Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro.  It features some great action sequences and quality acting but just doesn't reach the tense buildup of the first film.  A third movie in the trilogy is setup nicely at the end of this.  4 JRs

Won't You Be My Neighbor

A masterful documentary that showcases the passion and spirit of Fred Rogers and his Mister Rogers Neighborhood TV show.  We get to see the inner-workings of the show and the man himself who is kind, selfless and genuinely invested in each and every child he meets.  A timely look at a man whose values should be considered by everyone.  This was a great film and a very emotional time at the movies.  4.5 JRs

Ant-Man and the Wasp

I'll go and see any movie Paul Rudd is in, thankfully this follow up to the so-so original Ant Man was much more enjoyable.  Thankfully Evangeline Lilly decided to ditch her short bob hairstyle and play a more important role in this one.  Michelle Pfeiffer is a solid addition to an already talented cast.  Kudos to Marvel for putting one of the best-ever stinger scenes in the credits of this one.  4 JRs

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

Simply put, I only went to see this because I had MoviePass and the original was on Netflix.  I watched the original, then went to see this.  It's OK, but not great.  Lily James can sing but Cher should STOP SINGING and ACTING.  2.5 JRs

Leave No Trace

A muted look at life off the grid as a father-daughter duo spend time living in public parks on their own.  This is a good look at how servicemen have to adapt to life after war.  Ben Foster is good in the lead role but Thomasin McKenzie totally steals this film and deserves an Oscar nod for her portrayal of teen innocence. While meaningful it was very depressing and slightly boring at times.  Worth a rental, but don't spend too much on this.  3 JRs

Don't Worry He Won't Get Far on Foot

A small indie film from Gus Van Sant that focuses on a disabled comic writer (Joaquin Phoenix) and his relationship with his AA sponsor (Jonah Hill in a career highlight role).  The movie is enjoyable and depressing at the same time.  Worth a watch on rental.  3.5 JRs

Blindspotting

This was a special movie for me as I took a break from visiting my ailing Mother in Richmond to see this in a theater.  Mom passed away the next day and I'll always have this film connected to her memory.  I knew very little about this film going in but absolutely loved it.  It's a quirky, hilarious take on race relations in Oakland, California.  Former Hamilton performer Daveed Diggs is awesome as one of the two leads.  Please seek this out on On Demand and enjoy this unique film.  4.5 JRs

Mission Impossible: Fallout

Sheer action-packed brilliance from Tom Cruise and company.   While a bit too long in runtime, the helicopter battle at the end alone is worth the price of admission. One of the best action films of the year and it's hard to believe Tom can keep this up with the next installment at his advanced age.  4 JRs

Skyscraper

Man I love me some Dwayne The Rock Johnson but I totally did not enjoy this film.  A horrible plot and awful visual effects lead to a simply boring and overacted mess of a movie.  Steer clear of this one.  1 JR

Juliet, Naked

A nice rom-com about an obsessive fan and his idol's relationship with his ex-girlfriend.  Ethan Hawke plays the aging rocker and gives another solid 2018 performance.  Rose Byrne is awesome as the love interest.  4 JRs

The Meg

A loud and frivolous summer escape film with a dependable turn by Jason Statham.  The rest of the cast other than the shark can't act with a damn. Not even remotely close to the scares and tension seen in Jaws, it's still a fun time at the movies.  3 JRs

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