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Divergent

Divergent

(2014)
12 days ago via Flixster

The biggest problem with Divergent is that its mere existence is tied to the environment it has been released in. Rather than something that can stand on its own merits, Divergent's themes, plot, characters, ideals and intentions are virtually identical to a certain other, far superior, YA adaptation. The film never finds a way to break away from the obviousness of this smelling like a movie studio cashing in on the "so hot right now" young adult crowd.

Which is a shame, because for the most part, Divergent is mostly mildly entertaining. The studio have thrown a lot of money at this, and the results are impressive on the screen. Some decent effects and fight sequences are on the right side of cheesy, and the continuing trend of anti-establishment plot lines in these dystopian-lite teen-centric films have a bit of depth to them to make them interesting, if not groundbreaking. Woodley and Winslet also both do well with the material at hand here.

Sadly, its almost impossible not to compare, and Divergent comes off second best against established competition. Fans of the genre and those curious will likely enjoy what's on offer, but these films are treading water fast.

A Single Shot

A Single Shot

(2013)
12 days ago via Flixster

Despite its noir stylistic flourishes, A Single Shot is far too languidly paced and dreary to make too much of an impact. Rockwell, continuing to prove how much of an underrated commodity of an actor he is, raises the protagonists plight into something far more lofty than it deserves for this film. He brings gravitas to a role that is better than the film its in. Put it down to a wasted effort.

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie

(2014)
12 days ago via Flixster

The Lego Movie is in many ways the ultimate kids movie, and thankfully the creators of this big-screen marvel of animation perfection have realised that to its fullest extent.

Like the little building bricks the film is based on, the only limit to what this film could achieve is simply that of the imagination of the animators. The result is one of unbridled fantasy escapism. Coupled with a subversively witty script filled with hilarious, clever characters and zany blink-and-you'll-miss-them sight gags, and what you get is simply one of the most wildly entertaining family films you're likely to see.

A raft of great voice talent back up the characters quirks and charms perfectly, and the animation is simply second to none; gob-smackingly awe-inspiring.

Its going to be impossible for anything to come close to this in 2014 in regards to kids films. And like the Lego toys themselves, this is a film that will be beloved in generations to come.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

(2014)
12 days ago via Flixster

Marvel Studio's must surely be wondering when this dream run of unblemished comic book adaptations will come to an end. The team here have rarely put a foot wrong, and Cap's second solo outing is just as rousing, humourous and downright entertaining as anything else in their canon. Which is impressive for a character who is arguably not one of the most obviously bankable characters outside of the homeland.

Evan's continues to bring his trusty everyman qualities to Cap, which remains his character's most affable trait. Johansson as Black Widow is his perfect foil; right mix of chemistry and sass to keep things just the right amount of fizz.

There is of course an undeniable sense of fatigue here; for all its entertaining qualities, Cap doesn't really offer anything too new here. The twists aren't as clever as they seem to be, and the special effects post-The Avengers are wow but expected.

Thankfully, great characters and an entertaining story keep things fresh enough for this installment; you you can't help wonder where exactly things can go from here.

Noah

Noah

(2014)
23 days ago via Flixster

In many ways Noah is the perfect filmic vehicle for director Aronofsky. There is an obvious parity with his protagonist here; the undertaking of such a monumental task would be daunting to say the least, to which Aronofsky gives it his all just like Noah. Aronofsky too faces immeasurable challenges here; the ability to translate a well known Biblical allegory into something that works both visually, and can be understood by the uninitiated.

Noah is the biggest film of his career financially, yet Aronofsky, clearly up to the challenge, genuinely makes this herculean feat seem easy. His more subtle directorial flourishes are sadly drowned out (excuse the pun) against the sheer scale of the film at hand, so it's certainly downer for fans of his earlier films. Thankfully, the substituted beefed up blockbuster vision still echoes his hypnotic showmanship and gritty, dirty undertones, even if it leans more in keeping making mainstream audiences entertained rather than challenging them. Think an arthouse version of Lord of the Rings, complete with fallen angels in the form of rock giants (seriously!).

In some strange way, this is right smack in Aronofsky's wheelhouse for a film like this. But it falls short in crucial moments. Characters far too often feel caricature and, somewhat ironically, storybook. The performances here too end up ranging from over-acting to stoic coldness, the cast often given dialogue that just seems completely distracting and forced. Most disappointing, for all the wonder in practical effects used here in truly epic production design, clearly the budget fell short in post-production special effects work; CGI seems to have filled the gaps in many glaringly silly ways, and simply far too often.

Noah itself is a great biblical story of morality, and at there are many times here it feels like a perfect parallel to the contemporary state of the world. It's the most cinematic of such stories to be told, a grand saga worthy of celluloid, so yes, it's a long one, but its a story that calls for length. While its varied shortcomings make this hard to take as something as serious as Aronofsky intended, Noah is still gritty, ambitious, entertaining, and at times even thought provoking - which is certain Aronofsky's intention.

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Intel Hollywood Star Program (July 2012 - December 2012)
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