JURASSIC WORLD: Chris Pratt. Velociraptors. What More Do You Need? Micro Movie Reviews: 2014-2015

My love of stories started with books and got an adrenaline boost with movies. It’s all storytelling. Read. Watch. Learn.

And eat popcorn. Lots of popcorn.

Jupiter Ascending

Logline: A young woman discovers her destiny as an heiress of intergalactic nobility and must fight to protect the inhabitants of Earth from an ancient and destructive industry. (imdb.com)

I wanted to love this movie. I mean, Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum? Hot. But the Wachowskis skimped on story here, and it shows. Eddie Redmayne, stellar in The Theory of Everything, attempts to intimidate as villain Balem Abrasax but comes across as petulant. No wonder he and Mum had issues. And Chan’s gravity boots? Not sexy. Next time, put the pretties on a flying motorcycle instead of forcing Mila to ride piggyback.

Women at the helm: Written and Directed by Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski (as The Wachowskis). Produced by seven people; two are women: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski.

Pitch Perfect 2

Logline: After a humiliating command performance at The Kennedy Center, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition that no American group has ever won in order to regain their status and right to perform.

Less story, more singing. And you know what? “I don’t care / I love it!” It’s disappointing to see Beca lose her cool edge in this sequel that trades plot for a bigger dose of music. But director Elizabeth Banks gives moviegoers what we want, culminating in the anthem “Flashlight,” written by Sia and Sam Smith, sounding like they were inspired by Beyonce’s hit “Halo.”

Women at the helm: Directed by Elizabeth Banks. Written by Kay Cannon, and Mickey Rapkin (based on the book by). Produced by nine people; two are women: Elizabeth Banks and Kay Cannon.

Jurassic World

Logline: A new theme park, built on the original site of Jurassic Park, creates a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur, the Indominus Rex, which escapes containment and goes on a killing spree. (imdb.com)

Chris Pratt. Velociraptors. What more do you need? (I’m paraphrasing my 24-year-old niece.) Yes, Bryce Dallas Howard’s heartless career woman runs in high heels on mud and grass and concrete throughout the entire movie without breaking an ankle. Deal with it. We choose to suspend our disbelief for the privilege of watching @PrattPrattPratt for two hours and five minutes. Swoon.

Women at the helm: Written by four people; one woman: Amanda Silver.


Logline: A desk-bound CIA analyst volunteers to go undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent diabolical global disaster. (imdb.com)

Melissa McCarthy is courageous. She never fails to push the comedic limits, and the results benefit us: laughter so hard and frequent, you get an abs workout. Plus, Jude Law channels his glory days (and a full head of hair) from The Talented Mr. Ripley. I’ll have what Rose Byrne is having.

Women at the helm: Produced by 10 people; two are women: Michele Colubo, Jessie Henderson. Film Editing by two people; one woman: Melissa Bretherton

Mad Max: Fury Road
Logline: In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in search for her homeland with the aid of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a drifter named Max. (imdb.com)

The first half-hour blasts you with nonstop action, introducing viewers to an intense, intellectually challenging ride. Except for one bikini-car-wash inspired scene, this is a feminist take on the franchise by long-time Mad Max director George Miller. Charleze Theron and Tom Hardy rock. Thanks to author Chuck Wendig for the astute observation that Max may be the main character, but Furiosa is the protagonist. Grrrrl power.

Women at the helm: Produced by 11 people; three are women: Genvieve Hofmyer, Holly Radcliffe, Courtenay Valenti

Far From The Madding Crowd

Logline: In Victorian England, the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor. (imdb.com)

Was Thomas Hardy a feminist? He created a strong female character, then made her go all weak in the knees for the wrong–horribly wrong–man. You be the judge. In the meantime, swoon over Gabriel’s silent, enduring love for Bathsheba Everdene (whose namesake is my favorite YA character, Katniss Everdeen).

Women at the helm: Produced by five people; three are women: Christine Langan, Anita Overland, Joanne Smith. Cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen. Film Editing by Claire Simpson.

The Clouds of Sils Maria

Logline: A film star comes face-to-face with an uncomfortable reflection of herself while starring in a revival of the play that launched her career. (imdb.com)

Talented, beautiful, and aging actress Juliette Binoche plays a talented, beautiful, and aging actress invited to resurrect the play that made her famous. But this time, she’ll play the older woman instead of the ingenue. The story-within-a-story blurs fiction and reality, and gets a little weird, but that’s part of its charm.

Women at the helm: Produced by 10 people; two are women: Sylvie Barthet, Maja Wieser Benedetti. Film Editing by Marion Monnier

Authors Anonymous

Logline: When a dysfunctional group of unpublished writers accept Hannah into their fold, the last thing they expect is her overnight success. Can these lovable misfits achieve their artistic dreams and avoid killing one another in the process? (imdb.com)

I thought it would be quirky and fun. I was wrong. Try relentlessly annoying and boring. Don’t waste even $1.61 on this straight-to-DVD Redbox rental. This is the first time I’ve asked for a refund because a movie is unwatchable: “Is the DVD damaged?” “No.” “It was just the movie itself?” “Yes.”

The amused customer service rep gave me a free rental, which I used to check out…

Women at the helm: Produced by nine people; six are women: Charlotte Alexander, Kaley Cuoco, Cynthia Guidry, Lainie Guidry, Ellie Kanner, Cassidy Lunnen

Fifty Shades of Grey

Logline: Literature student Anastasia Steele’s life changes forever when she meets handsome, yet tormented, billionaire Christian Grey. (imdb.com)

Director Sam Taylor-Johnson turns the much-maligned Twilight fan-fic into visual art. You’ll be pleased to hear the movie lacks the novel’s ridiculous dialogue that makes every character sound like a 50-year-old British woman. Thank you, Bret Easton Ellis, for voicing this observation.

And by the way, I’m claiming the last word on the debate. Every sexual act in the book–and movie–is consensual. The End.

Women at the helm: Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. Written by Kelly Marcel (screenplay) and E.L. James (based on the book by). Produced by five people; one woman: E.D. James. Film Editing by Anne V. Coates, Lisa Gunning, Debra Neil Fisher

These reviews were originally published in a different form on July 14, 2015 at http://www.KatherineValdez.com

Katherine Valdez laments the proliferation of trailers and movie reviews that give away the plot.

Read reviews at www.NoSpoilersMovieReviews.com and www.NoSpoilersBookReviews.com. Receive reviews directly to your inbox by typing your email address in the Follow box. Watch for the confirmation email to complete the process.

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