The Good: Jason Bateman is fantastic as Guy Trilby, an angry and amoral 40 year old man who decides to win the national spelling bee to stick it to his absent father. Bateman's wit and timing was impeccable and was actually laugh out loud funny at times. Usually playing the straight man or "good guy", it was refreshing to see him play a crass a-hole. The setup is good and is a very amusing idea. The supporting cast was excellent and the film is one of the better dark comedies of the last couple of years. Bateman also directed the film and shows a lot of skill in doing so.
The Bad: At times Trilby is a little TOO crass and for a brief moments becomes difficult to root for. Films like this work when there is a fine line between being a rude jerk and having something more underneath. This film, for the most part, succeeded but came dangerously close to crossing that line.
The Good: Great premise chock full of stunning visuals. Song Kang-ho (and eventually Ed Harris) turns in a great performance and in fact carries most of the film. Grim and dark, you don't know who will still be standing in the end, which is very realistic given the setting. While somewhat preposterous, the twists near the end were well done ... even if you saw some aspects of them coming a mile away.
The Bad: The antagonists come across as cartoon characters and were hard to take seriously. They were just silly and absurd to the point of annoyance. Chris Evans himself was average at best as a man looked to for leadership. For a "leader" type, he was pretty boring and one dimensional. He was just sort of ... there. That's pretty bad considering that he is in 90% of the film's scenes. Lastly, the ending left something to be desired and seemed to put humanity in a worse place than when the film started. That wasn't the intent and it was supposed to be "hopeful" ... but it didn't feel that way. It mostly made me say to myself "Well, we're now extinct ...". While the film was decent enough, I just don't get what all the fuss was about.
"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" 10 Scale Rating: 8.5 (Fantastic) ...
The Good: While they are very different films, the sequel transitions flawlessly from the first and fits into the franchise perfectly. You get so used to the apes, that you forget that they are created with special effects. That is the mark of truly fantastic work and you can't help but be impressed. In films like this, it is easy for the human actors to fall to the wayside, but that does not happen here .. at least not with the leads. Jason Clarke's Malcolm believably connects with Caesar and forms a bond that I feared would not be achievable. It's a shame that Serkis won't get award consideration due to being a motion capture actor. He deserves it. The battles were intense and the film does a great job causing you to wonder if your favorite characters will live or die. Lastly, the film is very poignant and provides excellent social commentary without cramming it down your throat. A worthy successor, which is hard to come by these days.
The Bad: I gotta admit it ... scenes of monkeys, riding horses, wielding machine guns, and leaping through fire were among the more ridiculous scenes that I have ever seen. They were during some very serious moments, and I couldn't help but laugh at them. Some of the supporting cast was pretty cliche and forgettable. They also weren't well characterized and I didn't even see what happened to a few of them.
"Deliver Us From Evil" 10 Scale Rating: 4.0 (Bad) ...
The Good: The performances can't be blamed for the end result here. Bana tried REALLY hard to make this work, Ramirez excelled as a priest with unorthodox methods, and McHale was great as Bana's partner, a knife wielding cop and adrenalin junkie. McHale was particularly notable as he was able to play a serious character while retaining his well known dry humor. Sean Harris, playing the film's creepy main antagonist was probably the best part of the film though as his scenes saved the film from being truly awful. The last 15 minutes or so were intense and well done, making me wonder where this was for the other 1:45.
The Bad: There is nothing scary about this horror film and the creepy moments are few and far between. While "jumpy" moments have come to be accepted in today's horror films, "Deliver Us From Evil" relies heavily on them and over-uses them. The story itself is cliche and something we have already seen MANY times before, bringing nothing new to the genre. The vast majority of the film is slow and boring with very little happening. Lastly, the film takes a few turns that come across as silly. These turns blur reality and the supernatural in odd ways and felt out of place.
The Good: While he'll never be Kevin Conroy, Jason O'Mara has made Batman his own and has settled into his role as the voice of Batman. For the most part, the voice cast did a great job. Morena Baccarin played an excellent Talia and Stuart Allan's Damian Wayne sounds like comic book readers expected him to. The animation was top notch and the settings and tone were well done. Fight scenes were especially great and the buildup to the film's finale was excellent.
The Bad: Probably should have stuck to the source material a little more as some changes that were made didn't seem necessary. Talia, for example, was portrayed in a far more sympathetic light and then degenerated into a cliche damsel in distress. This is a far cry from the strong (yet somewhat conflicted) villain that Talia actually is. Thomas Gibson was horrible as the film's antagonist, Slade Wilson (AKA Deathstroke), and it felt like he didn't take the film very seriously. He was just way too BWAH HA HA and if you've read Deathstroke on the printed page, then you can understand why that would be a problem.