Friday, December 30, 2016

Best & Worst Movies 2016 Year-End Review

Best & Worst of 2016
I posted at least two movie reviews every single week this year. That's right I didn't miss a single week. My highest one week mark was eleven movies.
Check out my previous reviews!

I watched two-hundred and fifty two movies this year. Here are my top 22 and bottom 14 picks for the year. This is based simply on the movies I watched this year, not on what was released this year.
Check out the previous year-end reviews.
The Top 22 of 2016:

Bone Tomahawk (2015)  
Patrick Wilson, Kurt Russell, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins in Bone Tomahawk
Bone Tomahawk - Grisly, understated, engrossing.
Rent Bone Tomahawk on Amazon Video
Written by:
S. Craig Zahler
Directed by: S. Craig Zahler
Starring: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins
Rated: Not Rated/R

In the wild west, four men attempt to save a group abducted by cannibals.

The movie is well made and refreshing, from the genre to the story. The story is simple and effective with developed characters and strong dialog. I really enjoyed the pacing. The movie may be difficult for some as it is gory, the camera rarely turning away. It puts you in the situation and provides a bevy of characters forcing you to reflect on how you might react in such a situation.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)  
Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain - What never could be.
Rent Brokeback Mountain on Amazon Video 
Written by:
Annie Proulx (short story), Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana (screenplay)
Directed by: Ang Lee
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams, Randy Quaid, Anne Hathaway
Rated: R

Two cowboys share a forbidden relationship over the years, only seeing each other at Brokeback Mountain where the first met.

Brokeback Mountain is haunting and mesmerizing. This forbidden love between two men is all the more powerful due to the potential consequences, but what really propels it to greatness is the detail and nuance. Was it Jack's dreaming that annoyed Ennis or the fact that Jack proposed to take care of him financially. The spouses faced the stark reality that not only an affair occurred but not knowing if their relationships with their husbands were a complete sham. The question lingers throughout, what does it mean to be a man? Does a man have to act a certain way? Hide his feelings? Or hold his ground?

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road - The definitive action movie.

Buy Mad Max: Fury Road on Amazon Video
Written by:
George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris

Directed by: George Miller
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Rated: R

After escaping the Citadel, Mad Max (Tom Hardy) becomes a key part in Furiosa's (Charlize Theron) betrayal of the overlord Immorten Joe.

Mad Max: Fury Road is an excellent action movie because it excels not only at action, but with story telling that avoids and subverts cliches and tropes. Fury Road is surprising at every turn and entertaining for every second. It looks great from composition to production.

The Revenant (2015) 

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant
The Revenant - A brutal and effective revenge tale.
Buy The Revenant on Amazon Video
Written by:
Mark L. Smith &
Alejandro G. Iñárritu (screenplay), based in part on the novel by Michael Punke
Directed by: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter
Rated: R

After being mauled by a bear and left for dead by fellow trapper Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) struggles to survive, intent on seeking revenge. The movie is based on a true story from the early 1800's.

The Revenant is a brutal revenge tale. Tragedy and misfortune strike Glass time and again, but revenge keeps him alive. It's at times haunting and horrifying, in its entirety expertly told. Many scenes are perfectly crafted to generate the maximum emotional response. Everything about this movie is well done. DiCaprio is amazing, his pain and torment is visceral in a performance that is anything but easy.

Scarface (1983)

Scarface - Tony Montana wanted it all, and he got it all.
Rent Scarface on Amazon Video

Written by: Oliver Stone
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Starring:   Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer 
Rated: R

Tony Montana (Al Paciono) rises to power as a drug kingpin in Miami.

Tony Montana knows what he wants and takes it. An enduring character that can't be stopped despite the violence and his ego. He succeeds on sheer will alone in a rags to riches story, dealing drugs and killing. While he has a code, he's still a criminal, and yet incredibly successful. It's hyper violent and revels in the over indulgence of the '80s. It's the premiere gangster film.

The Big Short (2015)
The Big Short - Unbelievable and infuriating.
Rent The Big Short on Amazon Video

Written by: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay (screenplay), Michael Lewis (book)
Directed by: Adam McKay
Starring:   Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling 
Rated: R

Investment banker Michael Burry (Christian Bale) discovers a housing bubble and bets against mortgage bonds, traditionally one of the safest bonds. Three other outsiders follow his lead. They're poised to get rich when the global economy crumbles. This is based on a true story, and the housing bubble did in fact burst.

The Big Short is an incredible education in the economic collapse, the housing market, and who's at fault. .It's an underdog story, but winning means a collapse in the economy so it's hard to root for the protagonists. They're taking advantage to get rich, which isn't much different from the banks they are targeting. The core story is excellent, but there are a few too many cutaways  to stock footage and even a rap video. The movie often feels like part documentary, but those additions are unnecessary. The cutaway celebrity explanations are distracting and repetitive. I easily understood what was going on and didn't need a reductive explanation. It's very smart. It's part absurdist humor, investigative exploration, and fraud expose. It tackles the prediction and downfall from multiple angles, providing a clear and comprehensive picture of what happened.  It's going to be a movie that's a sign of the times and an expose on what happened.

Spotlight (2015)
Spotlight - An excellent movie.
Rent Spotlight on Amazon Video
Written by:
Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy

Directed by: Tom McCarthy
Starring:  Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery
Rated: R

The true story of how The Boston Globe reporters revealed a massive cover-up of child abuse in the Catholic church.

This movie delivers an incredible and horrifying story. The direction, performances, and everything else are excellent as the conspiracy steadily grows larger. The depiction of news reporting feels very real, and comparisons to All the President's Men (read my review) are inevitable. It's got a large cast, and it uses them well with each person feeling distinct and unique. It's a well made movie.

The Hateful Eight (2015)
The Hateful Eight -Absolutely incredible, though a bit long.
Buy The Hateful Eight on Amazon Video
Written by:
Quentin Tarantino

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring:  Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen
Rated: R

Trapped in a cabin during a blizzard, bounty hunters, a bounty, a sheriff, a hangman, a rancher, and more must survive each other.

This movie is incredible. The script is amazing and the acting is sublime. It's such an incredibly well made movie where everything comes together so well. I regret I didn't see it in the theater. I want to rewatch immediately, but at nearly three hours that's not so easy. The last hour wasn't quite as good as the first, with a few decisions I found odd. It lost the momentum and tension the movie had been building.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption - Simply incredible

Rent The Shawshank Redemption on Amazon Video
Written by:
  Stephen King (short story "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption"), Frank Darabont (screenplay)

Directed by: Frank Darabont
Starring:   Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, Clancy Brown 
Rated: R

Andy Dufresne is imprisoned for murder. In prison he struggles, triumphs, and even makes a few friends, but Andy is patient, smart, and has lots of time.

It's a great movie. The writing is very good, every scene leading to the climax, building the world and characters for a specific reason. This is less a prison break movie and more an examination into what a life sentence does to a person, how it institutionalizes him. It's also a story about two friends Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and Red (Morgan Freeman).
Dufresne is a convicted murderer, who through sheer will accomplishes great feats even in prison. He ultimately experiences the ultimate triumph for a man in prison. 
This is simply incredible and a movie that everyone needs to watch (or watch again). The music, cinematography, and acting is great, with everything working in tandem.

Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Stitch, Lilo in Lilo & Stitch
Lilo & Stitch -Touching and sweet.

Rent Lilo & Stitch on Amazon Video
Written by:
Chris Sanders (idea), Chris Sanders &Dean DeBlois (written by)

Directed by: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders 
Starring:  Daveigh Chase, Chris Sanders, Tia Carrere
Rated: PG

A little girl adopts a dog that happens to be an alien, hunted by his creators.

It tackles a mature story, a little girl on the brink of being taken by social services. It delivers laughs and touching moments alike when the little girl adopts a really ugly dog that is actually an alien hunted by its people.

Woman in the Dunes (1964)
Scaling the wall in Woman in the Dunes
Woman in the Dunes - You can stay as long as you like, but you can't leave.

Rent Woman in the Dunes on Amazon Video
Written by: Kobo Abe (novel), Kobo Abe (screenplay), Eiko Yoshida (scripting)
Directed by: Hiroshi Teshigahara
Starring: Eiji Okada, Kyoko Kishida, Hiroko Ito
Rated: --

Local villagers trap a man on vacation in an inescapable sand dune with a woman already imprisoned, in an effort to force him to be her husband.

This is an amazing film. It will register stronger for students of film, but everyone can appreciate it. It creates a great mood and delves into a fascinating yet sparse story with fantastic imagery. It's part horror, part human triumph, exploring confinement and existence. It feels ahead of its time, but also completely outside of a genre.

The Player (1992)
Tim Robbins in The Player
The Player - Incredibly clever Hollywood satire, containing everything a good movie should.

Rent The Player on Amazon Video
Written by:
Michael Tolkin (screenplay), Michael Tolkin (novel)

Directed by: Robert Altman
Starring: Tim Robbins, Greta Scacchi, Fred Ward, Vincent D'onofrio
Rated: R

A studio executive gets death threats after rejecting a writer's script.

This is a movie about movies. It's a depiction of golden age Hollywood, at least what I imagine that's like, with numerous celebrity cameos bolstering the fabricated authenticity. The plot includes murder, sex, and intrigue. It's everything the characters tell us a good movie requires. The events culminate into the perfect ending. The numerous film references are a bonus to those that recognize them, but don't hinder the movie if you aren't familiar. It's clever on it's own.

Gladiator (2000)
Russell Crowe in Gladiator
Gladiator - A modern epic.
Watch Gladiator on Netflix
Rent Gladiator on Amazon Video
Written by: David Franzoni (story), David Franzoni and John Logan  and William Nicholson (screenplay)
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Djimon Hounsou
Rated: R

A Roman general is betrayed and forced to fight for his freedom as a gladiator.

Gladiator tells a sweeping, epic story and it has the production values to make ancient Rome real. We root for Maximus, but it's the villain, Commodus, that draws the audience's ire. The writing, acting, and directing combine to form an unforgettable adventure.

To Be or Not to Be (1942)
Robert Stack, Jack Benny, Carole Lombard in To Be or Not to Be
To Be or Not To Be - Everything a comedy should be.
Written by:  Melchior Lengyel (original story), Edwin Justus Mayer (screenplay)
Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch
Starring:   Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack
Rated: --/PG

A group of actors in Poland get mixed up in a Polish soldiers search for a German spy.

This is an older black and white movie, but it's witty, combining subtle comedy and smart banter. It's a lot of fun as an acting troupe uses their German costumes to great effect. The troupe is always on the edge of being discovered, and that makes for a fun plot.

The Little Prince (2015)
The prince and his rose in The Little Prince
The Little Prince - An absolutely stunning movie.

Watch The Little Prince on Netflix

Written by: Irena Brignull, Bob Persichetti (screenplay), Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (novel)

Directed by: Mark Osborne
Starring:   Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, James Franco, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Paul Giamatti
Rated: PG

In this Netflix distributed movie, an overworked little girl befriends an eccentric neighbor who recounts the story about a "little prince."

I was skeptical about the book adaptation, but this movie does an amazing job of expanding on the story of the little prince. It's emotional, touching, and it couldn't have been done better. The animation is exquisite, especially when depicting the original story. The book bemoans adult's lack of creativity, and the framing story reinforces that point. When the book's story ends, and the movie's story begins is where this really takes off.

No Country for Old Men (2007)
Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men
No Country for Old Men - Is life just a flip of the coin?

Rent No Country for Old Men on Amazon Video
Watch No Country for Old Men on Netflix

Written by: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (screenplay), Cormac McCarthy (novel)
Directed by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald, Garret Dillahunt
Rated: R

A hunter stumbles across a drug deal gone wrong.

This is a phenomenal movie. The characters are clever, the story engrossing, and the dialog, while sparse, is perfect. It's based on the McCarthy book and he is master at crafting stories. Combine that with the Coen brothers and you get a spectacular movie.

Blue Ruin (2013)
Blue Ruin - Premier revenge story.

Rent Blue Ruin on Amazon Video

Written by: Jeremy Saulnier
Directed by: Jeremy Saulnier
Starring:  Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves
Rated: R

A man returns to his childhood hometown for vengeance.

This is such a good revenge movie. Every part of the movie is well done, and the story is painfully real. The protagonist isn't a special forces expert marksman. He stumbles along, intent on his task not because of blood thirst but because of obligation. It ends in the only way a revenge movie should. It's incredibly well done.

Demolition (2015)
Demolition - Amazing movie exploring grief and showcasing Gyllenhall's talent.

Rent Demolition on Amazon Video
Written by: Bryan Sipe
Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring:  Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper
Rated: R

A customer service rep and her son help a banker rebuild his life after the death of his wife.

Amazing writing, directing, and acting. It's an amazing look at how one deals with grief. It's quite a journey with more than a few truly amazing scenes. I was engrossed from start to finish. I wasn't sure where this could go, but it's an amazing ride with a fitting conclusion. This movie is small in scope, but completely engrossing we see grief manifested.

Swiss Army Man (2016)
Swiss Army Man - A bizarre journey, both poignant and comedic.
Rent Swiss Army Man on Amazon Video
Written by: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Directed by: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Starring: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Rating: R

Stranded on a deserted island, Hank befriends a dead body and embarks on a surreal journey back home.

This movie has such a silly premise, but it cuts though social norms and presents a quaint truth. It's incredibly creative, generating plenty of speculation as to what this is really about. Is this a fantasy or a modern day dark and edgy Weekend at Bernie's? All the pieces are present for you to determine what "really" happened, but even that leaves this open to decipher what it means. It can be called a ninety minute flatulence joke, and while the movie won't convert everyone, it will certainly entertain.

Hell or High Water (2016)
Hell or High Water - Great, from story to writing, acting, directing, and cinematography.
Rent Hell or High Water on Amazon Video
Written by: Taylor Sheridan
Directed by: David Mackenzie
Starring: Dale Dickey, Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges
Rated: R

To save the family ranch in Texas, an ex-con and his divorced brother resort to robbing banks.

This is a smart heist movie, that's about more than the crime. It's two brother sticking it to the man and a father trying to do better for his kids. The banks cheated them, and this is their revenge.
A razor sharp script is the backbone for this movie, that manages to even make scenes that are mostly dialog engrossing.

Captain Fantastic (2016) 
Captain Fantastic - It's not a comedy, it's about finding balance.
Rent Captain Fantastic on Amazon
Written by: Matt Ross
Directed by: Matt Ross
Starring:  Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Steve Zahn, Frank Langella
Rated: R

Ben and his six children are forced to leave the secluded forest where they've lived off the grid in isolation to attend his wife's funeral.

This movie is not just a criticism of how most of us live life as capitalist pigs, but it asks everyone to analyze and question your life because finding balance is important.
You can ask if Ben was a good father, but this movie is trying to do much more than that. He's certainly flawed and maybe even misguided, but he loves his children and wanted to create a better life for them.
Few movies make you think and ask questions. Ben's life may not be practical, but his ideology is intriguing.

Aliens (1986)
Rent Aliens on Amazon Video
Written by: James Cameron and David Giler & Walter Hill (story), Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett (characters), James Cameron (screenplay)
Directed by: James Cameron
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton
Rated: R

Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is tasked with returning to the now colonized planet from the first movie with a team of marines after all contact is lost.

Forging the blue print for action horror movies and sequels, a great script serves as the basis for an absolute thrill ride. Every scene builds plot or character all the way to the end, while constantly reminding you that survival is slim.
How do you make not just a good action movie, but a great film? Aliens holds the answers.

The Bottom 14 of 2016:

Pan (2015)
Levi Miller in Pan
Pan - He is the Pan! Technically, but I was hoping for more.
Buy Pan on Amazon Video 
Written by:
Jason Fuchs, J.M. Barrie (characters)
Directed by: Joe Wright
Starring: Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara, Amanda Seyfried
Rated: PG

The origin story of Peter Pan, from an orphanage to Neverland.

Pan is ultimately unfulfilling. It's a pre-Neverland story that bookends the post-Neverland Hook. It's not as much fun as it should be, nor as enjoyable as Hook. It relies heavily on CGI, spectacle, and over the top visuals. It's the back story we never needed. Peter Pan has always asked us to just believe. It's never tried to explain why Peter Pan exists because it doesn't need to, and this movie misses that premise.

Ricki and the Flash (2015)
Meryl Streep in Ricki and the Flash
Ricki and the Flash - If only it were over in a flash.
Buy Ricki and the Flash on Amazon Video
Written by:
Diablo Cody

Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Starring: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Rick Springfield
Rated: PG-13

Ricki (Meryl Streep) abandoned her husband Pete (Kevin Kline) and three children to pursue her dream of being a rock star. With her daughter Julie (Mamie Gummer) devastated over a divorce, Ricki takes a break from her cover band to see her daughter.

It's got two or three good scenes amid the predictable, trope filled, plot. The performances aren't bad but every single story beat is so predictable and trite. A great cast saves it from being absolutely terrible, but that is far from an endorsement. This could have been a decent movie if explored the over the hill, never made it wannabee, but this movie is as deep as a rain drop.

Pee-Wee's Big Holiday (2016)

Pee-Wee's Big Holiday - This scene, like the movie is odd and unnecessary.
Watch Pee-Wee's Big Holiday on Netflix
Written by:
Paul Reubens and Paul Rust (screenplay)
Directed by: John Lee
Starring:  Paul Reubens, Jordan Black, Doug Cox 
Rated: PG

In this Netflix produced movie, Pee-Wee travels to New York after meeting actor Joe Manganiello.

When an actor inhabits a role that made him famous thirty years ago, I assume it's because they've done nothing of note since then. That would be the case here I can only assume.
Throughout the movie, the word pointless kept coming to mind. It's been a while since I've seen anything Pee-Wee Herman, but I found the character incredibly annoying. This is made all the more disturbing know that Reubens is in his sixties playing a man-child.
Manganiello was actually funny. For whatever reason he likes Pee-wee.
I can't think of a reason anyone should watch this. If this made the Netflix cut, I'm really curious to see what didn't make the Netflix cut. Some franchises are better left alone, and this is one of them. 

Regression (2015)
Emma Watson, Ethan Hawke in Regression
Regression - I feel like my mental capacity has regressed.

Watch Regression with Amazon Prime
Written by:
Alejandro Amenábar

Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar
Starring: Ethan Hawke, David Thewlis, Emma Watson
Rated: R

In this psychological horror Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) investigates a man who sexually abused his daughter, but he has no recollection of the event.

The movie starts off with a great, creepy mood. It's unnerving and wild. You don't know what's going on, and it seems like it could be a town wide conspiracy. While the policing is simplified, it's forgivable. The third act is unforgivable, pulling the rug out from under you in a conclusion that contradicts what you've seen. The ending to this movie is not just bad, it will make you angry for wasting your time.

Special Correspondents (2016)
Ricky Gervais, Eric Bana in Special Correspondents
Special Correspondents - Couldn't wait for it to end.

Watch Special Correspondents on Netflix
Written by:
Ricky Gervais

Directed by: Ricky Gervais
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Eric Bana, America Ferrera, Kelly Macdonald, Ricky Gervais, Benjamin Bratt
Rated: TV-MA

In this Netflix distributed movie, Frank Bonneville and Ian Finch (Eric Bana and Ricky Gervais) fake covering a war in Ecuador and eventually a kidnapping while remaining state side.

It felt incredibly long despite that fact that it's just over ninety minutes. It's one of those movies that if you didn't quit watching after the first half hour, you're just counting down the minutes so that you can write a complete review. It's a mediocre, trope filled movie, with a conclusion that is as pointless as it is ridiculous

Hush (2016)
John Galagher Jr. in Hush
Hush - Horror for the hearing impaired.

Watch Hush on Netflix
Written by: Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel
Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco
Rated: R

This Netflix distributed horror movie is about a deaf woman trapped in a cabin in the woods.

Horror movies are hard to judge. They often attempt a mood rather than a logical story. Hush creates great tension, but the inconsistencies leave a lot to be desired. It doesn't rely on jump scares, but it also doesn't hold reality in high regard.

Synchronicity (2015)
Chad McKnight in Synchronicity

Synchronicity - Underdeveloped. This is a good rough, rough draft.
Watch Synchronicity on Netflix
Rent Synchronicity on Amazon Video

Written by: Jacob Gentry, Alex Orr (story)
Directed by: Jacob Gentry
Starring: Chad McKnight, Brianne Davis, AJ Bowen
Rated: R

Set in the future, physicist Jim Beale (Chad McKnight) creates a time machine and must travel into the past.

The wooden acting reinforces the underdeveloped script and ham-fisted dialog. The actual concept isn't complex, but the script is too cumbersome to follow. We're left with style and mood which can't carry a film.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)
Dylan O'Brien in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
The Scorch Trials - Hiding how bad it is by adding way too many plot elements.
Buy The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials on Amazon Video

Written by:  T.S. Nowlin (screenplay), James Dashner (novel) 
Directed by: Wes Ball
Starring:  Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Barry Pepper, Aidan Gillen
Rated: PG-13

They've escaped the maze and are now faced with a desolate landscape, dangerous people, and zombies.

The first movie had a great first half and a terrible second half. This sequel picks up at the terrible part and manages to be even worse. It picks the worst tropes and puts them into one scattered movie. The movie believes that if crams enough stuff into the plot, you won't notice how bad it is.

Brahman Naman (2016)
Naman and his buddies in Brahman Naman
Brahman Naman -If sex crazed teens made a movie.

Watch Brahman Naman on Netflix
Written by:
Naman Ramachandran

Directed by: Qaushiq Mukherjee
Starring: Shashank Arora , Tanmay Dhanania , Chaitanya Varad
Rated: TV-MA/R

In this Netflix original teen sex comedy, a college quiz team from India attempts to win a quiz bowl and lose their virginity.

This movie is less than subtle about the premise. It's Revenge of the Nerds (1984) and American Pie (1999) set in India with a refrigerator masturbation incident and animated genitalia portrayed in just the first few minutes. The dialog is clever, but completely disjointed with the premise and content. There is a good idea hidden somewhere deep in this movie.

Gridlocked (2016)
Dominic Purcell in Gridlocked
Gridlocked - Interchangeable with many made for DVD movies.

Buy Gridlocked
Watch Gridlocked on Netflix

Written by:  Rob Robol, Allan Ungar
Directed by: Allan Ungar
Starring:   Dominic Purcell, Cody Hackman, Stephen Lang, Danny Glover, Vinnie Jones, 
Rated: R

In this Netflix exclusive, a movie stars ride along with a former special forces cop is cut short when a police facility is attacked.

This movie is incredibly derivative. There is a reason it didn't get a wide theater release and that's because it's not good.

XOXO (2016)
XOXO music festival in XOXO
XOXO - Rave is love, XOXO is love. Knowing that, this movie is a waste of time.

Watch XOXO on Netflix

Written by: Christopher Louie (story by), Dylan Meyer
Directed by: Christopher Louie
Starring: Sarah Hyland, Hayley Kiyoko, Ryan Hansen, Ione Skye
Rated: --/TV-MA

In this Netflix original, five or six strangers share a memorable night at a music festival. Memorable for them, not the viewer.

A rave setting is usually a bad joke. This had the potential to subvert the rave tropes with solid characters, but that doesn't happen. This is made for television level of quality, lacking the vision and artistry to make this anything more than a bag of tropes. How many times was this rejected before Netflix acquired it?

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman in Batman v Sueprman: Dawn of Justice
Batman v Superman - Ten pounds of crap in a five pound bag.
Buy Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on Amazon Video
Written by:  Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer (written by), Bob Kane and Bill Finger (Batman created by), Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (Superman created by)
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot
Rated: PG-13

Fearing a world where Superman reigns uninhibited, Batman plans to stop him.

This has an interesting premise, but it quickly flies off the rails at it tries to one up itself constantly. Spectacle overtakes story completely. The eponymous fight between Batman and Superman is overshadowed as this movie just doesn't know when to stop.

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
Independence Day: Resurgence - Obnoxious, terrible, pointless.
Rent Independence Day: Resurgence on Amazon Video
Written by: Nicolas Wright & James A. Woods and Dean Devlin & Roland Emmerich and James Vanderbilt (screenplay), Dean Devlin & Roland Emmerich and Nicolas Wright & James A. Woods (story by), Dean Devlin & Roland Emmerich (based on characters created by)
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, William Fichtner, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox
Rated: PG-13

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

Twenty years after the first Independence day invasion, the Earth is threatened again by aliens.

This is laughably bad. The script suffers from trying to cover way too much, shoehorning in actors from the first movie when the only one we really want is Will Smith. Mr. Smith is nowhere in this movie, smart move on his part.
This doesn't just call back to the first movie, it lifts whole scenes, but uses them poorly. This fails to build the story and execute what should be stunning moments. It's a tangled mess of overly complicated plot and way too many characters that had the hubris to assume we'd want a sequel.

Mercy (2016)
Mercy - A lot of action, very little story.
Watch Mercy on Netflix
Written by: Chris Sparling
Directed by: Chris Sparling
Starring:  James Wolk, Caitlin FitzGerald, Tom Lipinski
Rated: TV-MA/R

A family must protect their dying mother from a religious sect.

This family hates each other for inexplicable reasons. While a dying mother means an inheritance is at stake for the family, a religious cult wants to... ease suffering, convert a dying woman?  This has very little story, explains even less, and really just sets up a home invasion, capitalizing on the formula from The Purge (2013).

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