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Movie Review: “Pitch Perfect 2” is an Aca-Awesome Sequel


The Barden Bellas are back and ready to pitch-slap the world’s best a cappella groups!

It’s been three years since we last saw our Bella’s beat out the exuberant Treblemakers for the national title. Since then, they have gone on to be reigning champs. But just before this all female singing group could finish out their college careers with 4 straight national wins, an unfortunate mishap occurs during a live broadcast performance at the White House. This results in the Bellas being banned from competing in the United States. Their one shot at redemption and reinstatement is to win the international competition, in which no American group has ever won. To make matters worse the undefeated champs from Germany, Das Sound Machine, are incredible!

Anna Kendrick returns as Beca, the aspiring music producer, who is now focused more on life after college and is secretly interning at a record label.  Brittany Snow also returns as Chloe, who purposely is failing college every year so that she may remain a Bella. And we are introduced to a new freshman, Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), who desperately wants to become a Barden Bella.

For the most part, Pitch Perfect 2 hits all the right notes. For starters, the film skips straight to the girl’s senior year in college and avoids dragged out year by year sequels. Also, Beca and Jesse (Skylar Astin) are still together and going strong. Nice to see they didn’t have a dramatic break up that would lead to an inevitable reunion. Only problem here is we don’t get nearly enough time with the lovable Skylar Astin. I would have much rather watched more of Jesse’s plan for life after college versus any time spent with newcomer, Emily. I can’t quite put my finger on why Steinfield never clicked with me. Other than her character writing the touching, original song “Flashlight,” Emily is just wasted time that could be spent on the growth of an already beloved character.

Speaking of beloved characters, Bumper (Adam DeVine) and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) are still keeping their love affair under-wraps. It’s a hilarious and unique pairing that audiences will surely enjoy.

Pitch Perfect 2 is definitely flashier than the first film, yet it is also less charming. Under the direction of Elizabeth Banks, the movie focuses on a sort of girl power theme. That isn’t a bad thing, but it would have been nice to maybe see a collaboration between the Treblemakers and Barden Bellas. It’s a performance I still hope to see one day.

Overall I praise the film for its effort in an original sequel.  Instead of recycling story-lines, they allow their characters to develop through new experiences while also highlighting how bittersweet it can be to move on after college.

There is no doubt that fans of the first film will be satisfied with Pitch Perfect 2.  The movie is an extremely fun, comedy packed with awe-inspiring musical numbers to which you can’t help but sing-along.

Rating: 4/5

Pitch Perfect 2 opens in theaters May 15.

“Pitch Perfect 2” Official Trailer HD

Movie Review: “Insurgent” is an Action-Packed Sequel that Partially Excites

insurgent_movie_2

For those who didn’t like the film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s young adult novel, Divergent, I advise you stop reading this review and don’t bother wasting your time watching this sequel.  I highly doubt you’ll find Insurgent to your liking as the first film provided more thought and care into its story-line. Though Insurgent supplies much more action, this movie comes off as a fun-filler until its anticipated conclusion.

The film is still set in a futuristic Chicago society, where people are divided into five factions based on skill and aptitude (Abnegation = selfless; Erudite = intelligent; Candor = honest; Dauntless = brave; Amity = peaceful). And as we found out from the last film, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her brooding, tatted boyfriend, Four (Theo James) are “divergent,” meaning they don’t conform into any category and are considered extremely dangerous.

Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off. Tris, her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Four, and Peter (Miles Teller) are on the run from the evil, Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and are now hiding out in the Amity faction. However, this safe house doesn’t last long, Jeanine is hell bent on hunting down every Divergent her squad can get their hands on, and unfortunately for Tris, she’s the “special one” that’s capable of opening up a magical box that supposedly will help Euridites rule the world and get rid of the Divergents forever.

The action sequences may feel forced at times, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable to watch. The first half of Divergent focused on Tris’ training and the real action in that film didn’t happen till the end. It’s nice to jump right into the excitement and watch some entertaining fight scenes. Like the first film, this sequel shows off some breathtaking visual effects, especially when we delve into Tris’ subconscious and try to decipher whether her visions are real or fake.

Insurgent may get criticized for its cheesiness and at times the confusing plot, but just like Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games, Shailene Woodley transcends with her compelling performance as the kick ass heroine. Woodley’s co-stars are adequate. But, even with the addition of Naomi Watts, it’s Miles Teller who shines as the mischievous Peter, providing some much needed comic relief.  I do wish we got to dig deeper with Caleb.  He is clearly a significant character, but yet I feel no attachment or interest towards him. Keep in mind that Caleb is being played by the same guy who had us bawling our eyes out in The Fault In Our Stars. Hopefully we get know and understand Caleb a little better in the next film.

It is possible that I am still reeling off the first film. Divergent was a great movie and took time to really develop the characters which had me already caring for Tris and Four before the movie started. It’s doubtful that Insurgent will be as memorable as the previous film. The premise is simple and is only stretched out by romance and numerous amounts of action. Fans of the series should be satisfied with this sequel, at least for its entertainment value.

The final book, Allegiant will of course be split into two films. Part 1 of this final installment is set to be released in theaters on March 18, 2016.

Insurgent opens in theaters on March 20, 2015.

Rating: 3/5 

 

Movie Review: “Dumb and Dumber To” Suffices for a Sequel

It’s been 20 years since we last saw Lloyd and Harry traveling together to “sunny Aspen, Colorado.”  Now they’ve come back for another disastrous road trip.  Only this time, the drive is a lot less fun.

For the past 20 years Lloyd (Jim Carrey) has been hospitalized due to his heart break over “Mary Samsonite.”  Harry (Jeff Daniels) has been visiting him every week, changing his diaper and urine bag.  But when Harry tells Lloyd he must stop visiting due to his own new-found illness, we learn that Lloyd is fine and this has just been an elaborate prank.  After the two stop laughing over the unfathomable joke, they focus on the fact that Harry needs a relative to donate a kidney so that he may live.  He soon discovers that he has daughter, Penny (Rachel Melvin), that was given up for adoption by his ex-girlfriend Friada (Kathleen Turner).  With Friada’s resources, the two are able to seek out Penny and hopefully gain her kidney.  What follows is an inappropriate love interest, new enemies, deceit, and of course, the predictable slap stick comedy.

If you hated the first Dumb and Dumber for some reason, refrain from ever watching this sequel.  The Farrelly brothers have basically recycled the premise and numerous jokes from the previous movie only to result in what I’d call a weak synonym.  Fans will either find their formula nostalgic or just plain lazy.

It is obvious Carrey came prepared to give 110% for his return as the dim-witted Lloyd Christmas.  However, I can’t say the same for his best friend.  Daniels does an adequate job playing Harry Dunne, but it’s clear Jim Carrey has taken full control of the wheel during this second ride.

Dumb and Dumber To is worth the watch for fans of the original.  Go in with low expectations, enjoy as many laughs as you can squeeze out from the film, and come out somewhat content.

Side note: Stick around for the end of the closing credits.

Rating: 2.5/5

“Dumb and Dumber To” Official Trailer HD

Special Features: “The Nut Job” already Lands Sequel!

“THE NUT JOB 2” WILL HIT THEATERS JANUARY 15, 2016

OPEN ROAD FILMS PARTNERS WITH REDROVER CO., LTD., TOONBOX ENTERTAINMENT LTD., AND GULFSTREAM PICTURES FOR A SEQUEL TO THE HIT FILM “THE NUT JOB,” THE #1 FAMILY FILM IN AMERICA

LOS ANGELES, CA, January 23, 2014 – Open Road Films, Redrover Co., Ltd., ToonBox Entertainment Ltd., and Gulfstream Pictures are pleased to announce that THE NUT JOB 2, a sequel to the hit film THE NUT JOB – which opened on January 17, 2014, taking in over $25,700,00 at the holiday weekend box-office as the biggest independent animated film opening of all time – will hit theaters January 15, 2016.  The announcement was made today by Tom Ortenberg, CEO of Open Road Films and Hoe-jin Ha, CEO and President of Redrover Co., Ltd.

In animated 3D, THE NUT JOB is an action-packed comedy that follows Surly (voiced by Will Arnett), a mischievous squirrel, who must plan a heist to get into his town’s biggest nut shop in order to help his pals in the park gather food to survive the winter. Together with his sidekick, Buddy, Surly assembles a ragtag crew to help him get inside – and takes them on a fun-filled adventure that they’ll never forget.  In addition to Will Arnett as Surly, THE NUT JOB also features the voices of Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Stephen Lang, Jeff Dunham, Gabriel Iglesias and Sarah Gadon.

Directed by Peter Lepeniotis from a screenplay by Lorne Cameron and Lepeniotis, the hit film THE NUT JOB was produced by Wookyung Jung and Graham Moloy.  Executive producers are Daniel Woo, Hong Kim, and Jay Ahn as well as Bill Bindley and Mike Karz of Gulfstream Pictures. THE NUT JOB was a collaboration of Redrover Co., Ltd., ToonBox Entertainment Ltd. and Gulfstream Pictures.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled about THE NUT JOB,” stated Ortenberg.  “It has been a pleasure working with the teams at Redrover, ToonBox and Gulfstream and we are delighted to re-team with them for THE NUT JOB 2.”

“We are very proud of what we have accomplished in Hollywood as an independent production company,” commented Ha. “Our compliments go out to ToonBox and Gulfstream for their endeavor in the co-production and to Open Road for their successful campaign and teamwork. We are looking forward to working with them on THE NUT JOB 2.”

“We’re thrilled that audiences have embraced these characters and it is exciting to anticipate their return for another adventure in THE NUT JOB 2,” said Karz. “The entire team behind this movie did a fantastic job and we’re looking forward to working with them again.”

The deal was negotiated on behalf of Open Road Films by Ortenberg, Elliott Kleinberg, COO and Peter Lawson, Executive Vice President of Production and Acquisitions.  Susan Williams and Stephen Zager of Loeb and Loeb negotiated on behalf of Redrover Co., Ltd., ToonBox Entertainment Ltd., and Gulfstream Pictures.