13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)

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Starring: John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa, Max Martini, Alexia Barlier, David Costabile, Peyman Moaadi, Matt Letscher, Toby Stephens

Plot: Following the civil war that broke out in Libya in 2011, Benghazi became one of the most violent places in the world. The U.S. pulled all of its American outposts there, except under the CIA, a group of contractors by the name “Global Response Staff (GRS),” remained stationed in Tripoli and Benghazi. Benghazi falls under attack and the forces unite in the fight of their lives all while trying to figure out the root of all the chaos.

Rating: 6/10

Overall: While I know this is based on a true story and is remarked as an “anti-Hillary” film, it was sometimes difficult to follow – which perhaps that’s what the film was trying to convey: that even the soldiers weren’t even sure what they were fighting for (besides their survival). I didn’t see it as an anti-Hillary film, despite the one line in the film (*SPOILER*) where a woman is on the phone asking for air support, and later in the film the same woman is telling a fellow soldier, “I called for air support and nobody came.” While the action was good (as all Michael Bay films never fail to impress on that level), I just felt like there was a lot missing to bring the film together. The beginning had a lot of text, which is great since I didn’t really know the backstory to it. However, that’s not something I particularly enjoy doing at the beginning of the film. I think if they started it with some background…like the beginning of the civil war and Americans being deployed there as well as some communications or “behind the scenes” stuff between the CIA contractors and the U.S. commanders/politicians (whatever they’re called) back in the actual U.S. For example, like the woman who calls, to show the other person on the other end of the line – showing their reaction to her request and the action they take (or choose not to take) after the call ends (and even if that reaction isn’t documented in real-life, it would still be a great way to envision how that person would’ve reacted).

Also, just a side note that has no importance to the actual film – I think this is by far one of John Krasinski’s best films. Not only is he extremely good looking in it, but it’s nice to see him out of a romantic or comedic role and into a more serious role.

Room (2015)

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Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Tom McCamus

Plot: A 17-year-old woman is abducted and held captive in a shed for 7 years. In that time, she raises a young boy who has only known and seen the inside of that room.

Rating: 10/10

Overall: This was difficult to watch because there were times throughout the film where I wanted to hate a certain character because I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, that’s selfish,” or “Wow, that’s immature.” But then I remember the circumstances and think, “Well, if I was in that situation, I’d probably feel the same way,” or, “Well, I suppose at 5-years-old, you can’t really expect anything less.” It’s a really fascinating (and of course, unfortunate) event. I think all the emotions are well-captured and the events that happen afterwards are also very realistic. I feel that was the most incredible part of this film – you feel what the characters feel. I can definitely see why she won both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for this role.

Jem and the Holograms (2015)

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Starring: Aubrey Peeples, Stephanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau, Hayley Kiyoko, Molly Ringwald, Barnaby Carpenter, Juliette Lewis, Ryan Guzman

Plot: After a candid video goes viral, Jerrica “Jem” Benton and her three sisters are thrown into the world of fame, but are also on the journey to both self-discovery and a “treasure hunt” for things her father left behind.

Rating: 9/10

Overall: Okay, the acting is mediocre, but I think I really liked this film for the music. That might be my inner 90s speaking out, but I seriously loved this film. I can’t believe that it failed so terribly! Honestly, I was reading what the critics were saying about it…and then it hit me that this film was based off of a pre-existing animated TV series that I knew nothing about! I guess fans and critics who loved the animated series hated the film because it didn’t follow any of the plot. The director even said that he still receives hate mail and death threats because of the film’s faceplant into failure. HOWEVER, I LOVED it! I don’t care what anybody says. If you can get past the acting, the music and the father’s escapade he leaves behind makes up for it (in my opinion, obviously). I suppose if you like the animated series and aren’t a pop fan, you probably won’t like this film and agree with all the critics. BUT if you’re like me and a sucker for pop music, I think you’ll truly enjoy this film.

Don’t Breathe (2016)

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Starring: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Emma Bercovici

Plot: Three young adults decide to burglarize a blind Army veteran supposedly sitting on $3 million. However, once inside the house, they quickly regret their decision and find themselves in for a rough surprise.

Rating: 1/10

Overall: Okay, this film can not be considered “horror.” I suppose on the grounds of violence and stupid characters, then yes, I guess it fits the genre there. Overall, I don’t think this film lived up to its hype. I think the plot was poorly developed in that there were so many loopholes and “events” that I felt didn’t belong. The characters are just AWFUL. You have the idiotic hothead who is most likely to die first because he’s the cock a-hole that screams, “I DARE YOU,” to a gun wielding opponent. Then you have the guy you want to root for but the damn “love triangle” backdrop is excruciatingly annoying you instead hope he just dies. And then you have the “damsel in distress.” Can we get any more cliche? She’s the epitome of the “chick that dies in the first five minutes of the film,” where you just find yourself screaming at her the entire film because of the dramatic long pauses and the desire to go back for people who are probably just going to die anyway or risk a higher chance of not only them dying but the main character themselves. Don’t even get me started on the blind guy…there are no words to describe how f***ed up they made him. So basically, you feel bad for the guy throughout the first half of the film – like, hey, he’s blind…then there’s a plot twist that completely changes that dynamic. As a writer, I think that’s a great way to unravel your plot. It’s not a twist that works well and that’s where the loopholes began to unfold. I just hated this film. I was so excited to see it and walking out of the theater, I only had two thoughts: (1) What a waste of money! and (2) I really hope they don’t make a sequel (because yes, Hollywood is so damn cocky, they make every film end with a setup for a sequel).

American Ultra (2015)

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Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman, Tony Hale

Plot: A stoner – who is in fact a government agent – is marked as a liability and targeted for extermination. But he’s too well-trained and too high for them to handle (IMDB.com).

Rating: 3/10

Overall: This was surprisingly more disappointing than I thought it was going to be, though now looking back, it has Kristen Stewart in it which is my reason for a film to be destined to fail…but another shocker is that she wasn’t the worst part of the film. I think the plot started out underdeveloped and missing a lot of gaps that weren’t really addressed until the end of the film. I think a little background would’ve been helpful in understanding this program or whatever that Mike (Eisenberg) was a part of, how his longtime girlfriend Phoebe (Stewart) was involved in the first place and the downspiraling of their relationship as they began discovering the truth behind his “skills”…there were just so many gaps in the film! One of the things I value most in a good film is character development. While I enjoyed the dynamic of Mike and Phoebe’s relationship, I felt there needed to be more development between Yates (Grace) and Lasseter (Britton), and eventually Krueger (Pullman); between Petey (Hale) and Lasseter; between Yates and Mike; between Yates and Phoebe, etc. I gave the film a 3 for effort and for the awesome action sequences.

Jason Bourne (2016)

 

shareStarring: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles

Plot: In the most recent installment of the Bourne series, Jason Bourne is drawn out of hiding when a part of his past is brought into a new light.

Rating: 5/10

Overall: I really wanted to like this film so badly that I rated this a 5 for simply my enthusiasm and desire to want to like it and the missing 5 is for my disappointment in the reality that it probably has to be one of the worst Bourne films (might even be worse than the Bourne Legacy that didn’t even have Matt Damon in it!). This film was incredibly anti-climatic, even with the one anxiety-driven car chase scene. The plot was weak and the female lead (Vikander) wasn’t even likeable enough to make the film remotely stronger. Also, I have to point out that the part of Bourne’s past that is brought to light and the question he constantly asks throughout the film, leaves you asking the exact same question by the end of the film! I didn’t like the Bourne Legacy because it just seemed so disconnected with the rest of the trilogy. That alone was enough to make it an “unsuccessful Bourne film” (in my opinion at least). THIS film was just an utter disappointment. LOVE Matt Damon and the character of Jason Bourne, but when you have a weak plot and an unlikeable lead character, you’re automatically setting the film up for failure.

Suicide Squad (2016)

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Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Jay Hernandez, Jai Courtney, Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman

Plot: A secret government agency recruits a group of imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency, which inevitably leads to chaos (IMDB.com).

Rating: 9/10

Overall: Great film. I think overall, it lived up to the hype. The major complaint I had was the poorly constructed sequence of events and character development. For me, it was frustrating to be expecting a majority of the film to have the Joker, but only to find that it was majorly Deadshot + Harley Quinn take on The Enchantress. All the other characters seemingly have very limited roles within the film, including the Joker! I think that’s the most upsetting and frustrating thing about this film. However, there’s still great action scenes and lots of good humor throughout. I think had the film had a different premise (and I’m sorry if this goes against the comic books, but I’m also speaking from solely a film aspect) for the plot, I think the film would’ve done a lot better with the character development and stronger plot/seeing more of the character’s true colors. It’s just utterly disappointing on that part. I wanted to know more about Killer Croc and I loved the story between Harley and the Joker – definitely wanted more of that. I also wanted to know more about the non-superhero/villains…like Rick Flag’s story and why Amanda Waller is the way that she is.