NEW THIS WEEK
Based on the immensely popular online game of the same name, Warcraft tells the high fantasy story of how the epic war between the Humans and Orcs came to be.
We Said: “Hopes were that Warcraft would be the first truly great video game adaptation. That's a ton of pressure to put on any director, and while Duncan Jones doesn't quite live up to those lofty expectations, the game's avid fan base will likely fall under its spell.” Rating: 3 out of 5
The Good: I admit that I am neither a fan of high fantasy or the Warcraft series of games, so I knew going in that this movie was not made for me. With that in mind, there are a great many people who are massive fans of both, and really seemed to be having a great time with Warcraft, so if you share those interests, perhaps you’ll enjoy the movie. Director Duncan Jones is a brilliant visual storyteller, and he brings his usual mind-melting epic style to the look of this film. Beautifully constructed destruction is a universal language, so even if you’re like me and don’t know a single thing about what you’re watching, director Jones manages to still let you in on the spectacle during the battle scenes. Similar to 2009’s Avatar, it seems everyone can find something to enjoy in watching a pretty fantasy landscape explode. The war scenes of Warcraft is the movie’s strongest suit.
The Bad: Having never played the games before, I was entirely lost by the plot. The movie seems to be less telling a story to its entire audience, and more retelling the story exclusively to those who’ve played it before. It is incredibly inaccessible, hard to follow, and ultimately uninteresting to anyone unfamiliar with the property. I truly only enjoyed the fight scenes, and that just wasn’t enough to hold my interest for two and half hours.
Overall: If you’re already a fan of the series, or interested in seeing some truly visually stunning fantasy battle sequences, Warcraft just might be the movie for you. Everyone else… you should really watch a different movie.
Zac Efron and Adam DeVine star as Mike and Dave, two brothers, best friends, and consistent bad influences on each other. In an attempt to keep the pair from ruining their sister’s Hawaiian wedding with their usual hijinks, the brothers’ parents force them to bring actual wedding dates to keep them in line. Mike and Dave soon find themselves being played by two uncontrollable wild cards (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) who are pretending to be “good girls” in order to piggyback on their Hawaiian vacation.
We Said: “Surprisingly funny, [what] Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates […] has going for it are four inspired lead performances, a welcome reversal of gender roles, and Zac Efron, who has turned hunky oafishness into an art form.” Rating: 3 out of 5
The Good: This movie really surprised me with just how funny it was. A vast majority of the jokes in Mike and Dave land brilliant, in a way I juts didn’t see coming from a wedding bro comedy. All four leads are top of their comedic game, with everyone getting a moment to shine. It’s just an extremely satisfying comedy. I thoroughly enjoyed Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.
The Bad: My biggest problem with modern comedies is that so many of them have this tendency to shift the tone toward the end of the movie, and have some more dramatic, character driven moments instead of straight laughs. This barely ever works, but happens all too often. Unfortunately, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates does try for this kind of thing in its third act. On the plus side, they do handle this better than most other comedies do, since the dramatic moments are book-ended by some of the biggest laughs in the movie. It’s a very specific trope to be bothered by, I know, but luckily the movie doesn’t entirely derail itself by using it.
Overall: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a shockingly funny and smart movie. While it does occasionally slip into typical bro-comedy traps, it never stays there long enough to really detract from its otherwise awesome run-time.
Blake Lively fights a shark.
We Said: “The Shallows isn't quite scary enough to keep you out of the water, but it'll at least make you think twice about it.” Rating: 3 out of 5
The Good: The Shallows knows what kind of movie it is. It goes all out with the exploitation of its silly premise, and makes for a fun b-movie throwback. Blake Lively goes hard, basically carrying an entire movie by herself, and really helps sell the terror of the situation. The suspense is intense, and the visuals actually rather impressive. There’s a lot in The Shallows that looks really interesting, when it really didn’t need to. Especially when considering how cheap movies like this are typically made, the thought that went into some of the visuals is really surprising and great. It’s not the most compelling movie ever, certainly, or the smartest, but The Shallows is certainly a lot of fun.
The Bad: Though most of the movie knows it’s kind of silly and has fun playing into it, there are several points in which The Shallows treats its plot-line way too self-seriously. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the suspense of a lone woman trying to outwit the ocean’s greatest predator, but it’s very hard to be even the slightest bit invested in her paper thin characterization. I give credit to the campy moments in the film that are played for the biggest possible effect, but several of the most egregious plot-points are handled with deathly earnestness that just doesn’t sit right. Tonally, it’s kind of all over the place.
Overall: Mostly fun for mostly intentional reasons, The Shallows is exactly the kind of suspenseful, well acted, well shot, summer spectacle of a movie you’d want it to be.