The Final Girls (2015, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5
...not to be confused with Final Girl, which is a different sort of movie. This movie brings about the what ifs when it comes to movies like Friday the 13th...actually, it's exactly like that movie. Our main characters are watching a movie similar to Friday the 13th and mysteriously get trapped in said movie. They point out all of the tropes and cliches in these sorts of movies and use this knowledge to their advantage to escape. It also presents an opportunity for the final girls to meet one more time. I had no idea what to expect with this movie, but what I received was sheer entertainment and a few laughs. I think if you enjoy movies like Cabin in the Woods and Scream, you can appreciate the meta humor and satire of this movie.
Amy (2015, USA) | Rating: 5/5
Most people know the rise and fall of the late Amy Winehouse. They might not know all the details, but they know that she had troubles with drugs and alcohol. Most importantly, the general public knows how talented she was as an artist and performer. I never really got into her music further than radio play and a couple of music videos, but this Oscar winning documentary made me want to listen to her music more than I did when she was alive. I don't watch too many music biographies, but I'm happy I chose to watch this one on my own terms. It was simply heartbreaking to watch Ms. Winehouse's life fall apart in this downward spiral of abuse, whether between her father or coping mechanisms. Even though I knew the outcome of her story, I couldn't help but yell at the screen for her to get out of toxic relationships or to leave Amy alone. It just really broke my heart every time something bad came her way. It really made me feel like I've been a fan of hers for years, when I was just a casual standby who knew she had talent and substance abuse problems. In short, this is a fantastic documentary that constantly keeps the focus on Amy by using photographs, archival footage, live performances, and voice overs by the people close to her.
He Named Me Malala (2014, Austria) | Rating: 4.5/5
I've learned of Malala Yousafzai's impact on the world through The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and online articles. What I knew going into this documentary was that she was a remarkable young lady with so much ambition and passion for change. I believe the documentary is based on or inspired by the book, I Am Malala, and does a great job of balancing the real young girl doing real young girl things and the passionate activist fighting for equality. The viewer gets to experience the day to day life with Malala and her family, her beginnings as an activist, her accomplishments after being shot and winning a Noble Peace Prize, and her ongoing goal for education. It was inspiring, informative, and entertaining. It doesn't bog you down with politics and terrorism, but does you inform you of what's happening in the world around us and Malala's journey around the world.
Minions (2015, USA) | Rating: 3/5
I don't know anyone who did not enjoy Despicable Me. It was a great movie and had such lovable characters with some great humor. Despicable Me 2 delved a little further with Gru's relationship with the girls and kept his struggle to be both a loving father figure and a notorious villain. Of course, the minions also brought comedy to both of these films and naturally, they needed to cash in on these yellow, overall wearing mascots. Honestly, I think the appeal of the minions was for the little kids and not the adults who bring them to the movie like the Despicable Me entries. I know some fans were upset about their origin story as it contradicts that they were a product of Gru. Nonetheless, I wasn't eager to see this in theaters or anything. For what it was, I can see the kiddies enjoying it and some adults getting a few chuckles here and there, but if you're a diehard fan or whatever with the main branch of the franchise, then you're not missing much if you do skip out on it.
We Are Still Here (2015, USA) | Rating: 3/5
I didn't know what to expect with this movie, when I picked it up from work. The blurbs on the cover made me skeptical of it being any good, but I was curious since it did sound interesting. While watching this horror flick, I remained skeptical yet curious as the story unfolded of this older couple moving into their new home after losing their child, then things got a little weird when some new friends arrived on the scene. Not long after their evening together, I was hooked into what was unfolding, which is good. I was almost worried that I was going to be bored and confused, then simply forget this movie like some I've skipped over for a quick review. It does follow some conventions and ideas of the 70s and 80s, but does offer a slightly modern take on these conventions. Thinking back on the elements presented in this film, there's some things that aren't really new to the genre, but the presentation was a little interesting and made me pleasantly surprised. I don't see everyone liking this film, because it does start off oddly, but it does give a somewhat satisfying conclusion. It has interesting ideas and presents what horror fans are familiar with a different packaging.
If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.