Sunday, August 10, 2014

Mr. Brown Goes Into the Storm

Say, you liked disaster flicks like Twister, The Day After Tomorrow, The Perfect Storm and 2012; and you flocked to watch found footage/POV features like The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield and the Paranormal Activity series, so here you go, America - a natural disaster flick with shaky camera work! It's a sure-fire hit; just step back and watch the money roll in!

Maybe I'm being too harsh. I'm sure this wasn't how first time screenwriter John Swetnam and producer Todd Garner pitched the film when the script was given the green light to start production. But I really do wonder if the people inside of the pitch meeting at Warner Brothers had a moment of pause and thought, 'Isn't this just a remake of "Twister" but with found footage slapped on?' Then again, this is the same town that thought Movie 43 and Catwoman had decent scripts to go into production, so I guess this shouldn't surprise me in the slightest.

Please don't have sharks in that forthcoming tornado, please don't have sharks in that forthcoming tornado...
I will say this about Into the Storm: the visual effects are quite good. The film's best scene comes from two high-powered tornadoes that combine to form one super-powered twister that tears through a high school and lays to waste an airport and picks up commercial planes like they were 5 lb dumbbells. It's a really impressive action sequence, as are most of the other sequences in the film, especially since the film's budget was reportedly $50 million. You can see where most of the money went. Too bad they couldn't have spent more on re-working a script that's cliched and implausible.

Storm chaser Pete (Matt Walsh of HBO's Veep) and meteorologist Allison (The Walking Dead's Sarah Wayne Callies) are chasing tornadoes across the Midwest, where they hear of a huge storm that's about to hit the town of Silverton. In said town, the Vice-Principal of Silverton High School, Gary Morris (played by Richard Armintage) is juggling both the graduating class ceremony and his two distant teenage sons, Trey (Nathan Kress of iCarly fame) and Jacob (Jeremy Sumpter). And rounding out the cast are two stereotypical rednecks (Kyle Davis and Jon Reep) who are trying to become Internet celebrities, but come off as lame Jackass rejects that even Johnny Knoxville wouldn't want to have around. When the storm hits, our heroes fight to stay alive as it becomes more unpredictable and deadly by the second. Sounds like a fun, thrilling setup, right?

Wrong. As I said before, the spectacle is undeniably impressive, but the characterization in Into the Storm is so bland that calling the characters one-dimensional isn't doing it justice, and the decisions made by most of them range from stupid to extremely implausible. Pete is so consumed by his goal of chasing this one big storm system that he comes off as unpleasant to work with and gets his crew-members in mortal peril because he wants up-close footage of the twisters he and his team are chasing; the Gary/Trey/Jacob arc is the classic 'rebuilding the family unit' we've seen in countless blockbusters; and the two rednecks are so aggravating that you end up cheering for the tornadoes to suck up the dust bunnies the film calls comic relief within 2 minutes of meeting them. Even the direction by Steven Quale (Final Destination 5) is haphazard. The look and feel of the film constantly switches back and forth from the found footage/POV look, to the traditional third-person one, all the way to the third act, where the found footage is almost abandoned entirely. Look: keep the flow of the narration consistent, because all it did was take me out of the story and made me guess which scenes used the found-footage format and when it was abandoned.

Into the Storm borrows from other better weather disaster flicks, but it doesn't have the interesting story and characters of Jan De Bont's Twister, and little of the self-awareness of Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow. Sure, it has great visuals and well-placed action scenes, but that's all that it has going for it. The story isn't developed, the characters are too one-dimensional and make stupid decisions that put themselves in danger, and the direction is some of the clunkiest I've seen all year. Even if you're deciding what to watch because Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are sold out, you'd be better off watching Lucy, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes or Hercules than spending almost 90 minutes watching this clunky thriller.

* 1/2 stars out of ****

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer's Pallet Cleansers, Or: A Vacation From the Extrodinary

I love summer movies just as much as the next person. Hell, this season's crop of popcorn escapism are actually better and more satisfying than last year's disappointing slate of blockbusters. But there's only so many big-budget, effects-driven extravaganzas I can watch before I burn myself out. In that instance, a break from blockbuster fare is sorely needed, and i'm reviewing two movies that help cleanse the pallet, and one that...doesn't . Yep, you can even find bad movies at an art-house theater. But that's beside the point. These movies, regardless of your opinions coming out, are good to experience because these are filmmakers who aren't beholden to the studio's bottom line of making a profit. They're doing smaller work, but nonetheless engaging. Most of the time.

Belle - Remember the name Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She's the best thing in an English drama that has so much right going for it. First, it's superbly directed by Amma Asante, who combines the flare of a British period piece with subtle commentary on social class and race that's refreshing to see in this kind of work when romantic/period dramas are mostly about a ravishing romance between two talented, attractive leads. The fact Asante will be directing a thriller next for Warner Brothers is cause for celebration because we need more filmmakers of color and gender out there showing off their talents. Next, the acting is absolutely excellent, from Mbatha-Raw herself as the titular Dido Bell, a mixed race girl born into nobility and privilege by her white Naval Officer father (Matthew Goode) and raised by her grandfather, the Lord Chief Justice William Murray (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife Lady Mary Murray (Penelope Wilton). She's the heir to her father's estate, but she's an outsider to the aristocratic class because of her race. She's an educated, well-spoken young black woman in an age where none of those traits are looked upon as suitable, and Mbatha-Raw captures her inner struggle with amazing grace and a quiet vulnerability that sneaks up on you. There are other actors who excel, like Tom Wilkinson as Chief Justice Murray, who is caught in a moral trap between doing right by her mixed granddaughter and keeping to the norm on the slave trade in Britain, and Harry Potter star Tom Felton, playing a bigoted suitor for Belle's cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray's (Sarah Gadon) affections, but the star remains Mbatha-Raw. Seek this one out in theaters, if you can, but it's a must watch.
*** stars out of ****

Snowpiercer - This dystopian science fiction action-thriller, set entirely on a consistently moving train that houses what's left of the human race after global warming freezes over the planet, has so much going for it: the train separates those who have everything (literally - the train houses a steak house, a nightclub, a salon and a clothing store, etc), and those who are banished to the tail end of the train. It features solid performances by Chris Evans as Curtis, the leader of the rebellion of outcasts who are banished to the back of the train, Song Kang-ho as the drug-addicted Minsu, who can open and close doors thought the train, and Tilda Swinton, completely chewing up scenery as Mason, the resident dictator who does the dirty work for Gilliam (Ed Harris) the conductor of the Snowpiercer. And it contains perhaps this year's most outrageous scene with a pregnant teacher (Alison Pill), storytime in a classroom, and an oozie. The whole sequence is so dark and bizarre that it actually feels almost right to have it in there, and you can't help but laugh at the madness transpiring on screen. South Korean director/co-writer Bong Joon-ho juggles themes picked up by The Matrix, Brazil, Tarantino films, and tackles themes of socio-economic class, the human condition and religion, but in the end, it never fully forms together in harmony. The film takes itself so seriously at times, that when the action scenes come around, you wish it had more a functioning sense of self-awareness about its own premise and jump off from there. Snowpiercer is an interesting film filled with big ideas, but I felt they never came full circle when it ended.
** 1/2 stars out of ****

Chef - Watching Jon Favreau's culinary comedic tale, you can't help that the film is really a metaphor for his adventures in Hollywood. He plays Carl Casper, a popular chef in the L.A. restaurant scene who feels trapped by his success and an owner (Dustin Hoffman) who wants him to keep producing the same food that made him a hit. The parallels between his character and Favreau himself feeling trapped by the Suits in Hollywood are almost un-missable, especially his less-than stellar outings with Iron-Man 2 and Cowboys and Aliens. His blow-up over food critic/blogger Ramsay (Oliver Platt) makes waves with social media, but gets him canned from his own restaurant. His ex-wife, Inez (Sofia Veargra) suggests he take his estranged son (Emjay Anthony) and do a food truck venue with his pal (a vibrant John Leguazamo) in order to rekindle his culinary passions, and spend time with his son. What happens after the 30 minute mark is a blast of vibrant, comedic and culinary life, as cuisine and culture from South Beach, the Big Easy and Austin come flying rapidly; the humor, even faster. You get a blast from watching something that doesn't have to do with giant robots beating the crap out of each other, or even from super heroes swinging, flying, shooting and smashing things every other minute, and you'd wish the film was longer than it's 114 minute run-time. Favreau is at his best, both creatively and performance-wise as an artist getting in touch with his roots. You watch his scenes making Cubanos or just fiddling around in the kitchen and you can feel his passion for what he does. That's movie magic that computer-generated effects can never capture.
*** 1/2 stars out of ****

Ida - The best thing I can say about this art-house drama is that it's beautifully captured in black and white by Polish director/co-writer Pawel Pawlikowoski and that the last act of the film, where the titular Ida (a wonderful Agata Trzebuchowska) makes her choice about whether to take her vows and become a Nun is quietly heartbreaking. Past that, Ida is deathly dull to watch. Before taking her vows, Anna must meet her family, which as it turns out, is only her Communist aunt (Agata Kulesza). She also learns that her real name is Ida, and wants to learn what happened to her parents, so the pair set off on a personal journey to discover the truth. That's all I can say, mostly because of spoilers, and partly because this is where I honestly dozed off. It's meant to be a slow burn, but there's no urgency to the pair's journey, and the pacing becomes non-existent because of it. Ida has a run-time of 80 minutes, and yet it felt like I was in there longer. If you have insomnia, Ida is a sure-fire way to put you to sleep.
* 1/2 stars out of  ****

Monday, July 28, 2014

Trailer Reviews: The Hobbit III

"Will you follow me, one last time?" That's the question Thorin Oakenshield poses to his company at the end of the trailer to Peter Jackson's finale to his Hobbit trilogy, dubbed The Battle of the Five Armies (due out December 17th). Although the question is posed to his accompaniment after everything they've undergone, via the evens of An Unexpected Journey in 2012, and last years The Desolation of Smaug, I can't help but feel said Q has two meanings to it. The second almost feels like the New Zealand-bred director is asking us, the audience, if we will stick with him, at the end of his prequel trilogy, and the end of this Middle Earth saga.

It's a fair question to ask. Both installments - An Unexpected Journey and Desolation haven't received the same critical acclaim as The Lord of the Rings trilogy did during its 2001-03 run, as the first two have received a 64% and 74% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for both parts I and II respectively. In my opinion, both are still fun, exciting pieces of popcorn/fantasy entertainment, but both sorely miss the weight and the gravitas that Jackson's original fantasy epic held. Does watching Merry and Pippin galvanize the Ents into going to war against Isengard in Two Towers, or seeing King Thoeden lead his Rohirrim into battle on the fields of Minas Tirith in Return of the King hold the same weight of watching Thorin square off against the Pale Orc, in Journey or the water barrel fight scene in Desolation? Not even on the same wavelength. From the looks of this last installment, it promises to be less adventurous and more perilous than its two predecessors, and Merry's song inter-cutting with the second attempt to take Osgiligh in Return is used to haunting effect here, as we see Men, Elves, Dwarves and Orcs preparing for war.

To answer the posed question: yes.Yes I will. One last time.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Trailer Reviews: Fifty Shades of Grey

Holy crap, Lars von Trier added another volume to Nymphomaniac! Yes! - Charlotte Gainsborough is back as Joe, the unrepentant nymphomaniac who's appetite for sex returns...with a vengeance! I can't wait to see how von Trier outdoes himself with pretentious and artful mundane things like fly fishing and the Fibernache sequence will be used as a metaphor for Joe and her numerous partners...

Oh wait, it's just the anticipated first look at the erotic drama Fifty Shades of Grey (due out in theaters February 13, 2015). Nevermind.

First off, I have never read the original source material by E.L. James. The premise - a young girl and a mysterious entrepreneur falling in love, but quickly realizing his past is much darker than previously imagined, including a thing for bondage and dom-submissive fetishes - feels something ripped from a cheesy erotic romantic novel that didn't sell with readers until present day. That, and I have a little something called Cinemax After Dark. Nevertheless, the erotic drama is something that hasn't really resurfaced in quite sometime. Sure, there were movies like Shame and the previously mentioned Nymphomaniac, but those movies were less erotic and more unsettling to watch. The former is a brutal and frank look at a man's self-destructive path toward the abyss because of his addiction to sexual gratification, and the latter is a provocative commentary on female sexuality and gender politics on sex - hardly titillating for audience consumption. So I guess we should welcome what promises to be a steamy, sexually-charged drama featuring two attractive leads in Dakota Johnson as Amanda Steele (no offense, but jeez, that sounds like the stage name of a porn star!) and James Dornan as Christian Grey. I mean, there's not much wrong with the trailer, to be honest: the cinematography looks lush and lovely give the dark color palette it flaunts; the acting has an air of mystery behind it, especially with Dornan's Grey; and Beyonce's hit song, "Crazy In Love" takes on a more sinister tone, in contrast to the song's upbeat, energetic tune.

The problem is that the trailer itself isn't really all that steamy, or erotic. Universal Pictures and their indie outfit, Focus Features, have bragged about this being dark and sensual, but the trailer misses out on the sensual/erotic portion of it. Sure, there's fast cuts of Amanda being tied up and moaning in pure pleasure over this new sexual experience, but we don't feel the heat radiating off the screen. The purpose of something like this is to turn the audience on; to get us hot and bothered, to feel the scorching passion between the two lovers, and you'd think the trailer would give said audience a taste of what is to come before the big, um...release (no pun intended). The trailer to Fifty Shades of Grey fails on that effort.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Transformers: Make It Stop!

I've seen bad movies.

I've seen dull movies.

I've seen incoherent movies.

I've seen movies that felt like pure torture to sit through because they're so damn boring to sit through.

I haven't encountered anything like Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Confession: once I read the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, I knew what I was in for, so really, I have only myself to blame for putting myself through sheer hell. When they said that Michael Bay, maestro of destruction, had managed to top Revenge of the Fallen as the worst installment of the series, I didn't believe it. How could he top that clunky, incoherent mess of a movie? 

In just 2 hours and 45 minutes (yes, it's that bloody long), I found my answer. In ways I never could have imagined.

It's been five years since the events of the last movie, where Optimus Prime (voiced one again by Peter Cullen) and his band of Autobots stopped the Decipticons from terraforming our world into another Cybertron, but laid waste to Chicago in the process. Ever since, the U.S. government has de-activated NEST, ended all alliances with the Autobots, have begun hunting them down like dogs, and have thrown Sam Witwicky and his girlfriend/accomplice, Carly in jail, along with Agent Simmons. I'm kidding about that last part, but Shia LeBrouf, Rosie Huntington-Whitley and John Tuturro respectively are not even mentioned in this film. Perhaps they had better things to do than come back to this bloated franchise, but I digress

In this new installment, we have a new cast of characters, starting with Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager, a failed Texas inventor trying to make a breakthrough that will put his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz), through college. Allow me to stop and talk about the latter character for a moment. Bay is notorious for objectifying female characters in most of his movies: from Ben Affleck sticking an animal cracker down Liv Tyler's pants in Armageddon, to Megan Fox arching her butt over the back of a motorcycle in Revenge of the Fallen, Bay hasn't met a female character he didn't want his camera to carnally lust over, and Peltz's Tessa is no exception. His camera zooms in on her daisy duke shorts and her long legs several times, including where her and her girlfriends drop her off at home. Yes, they're all wearing daisy dukes, and yes, Bay doesn't want us to miss more drooling over young, hot, tasty teenage girls! Oh, I forgot to mention Peltz is 19, and here, she's playing a 17 year-old girl. That's right - Michael Bay is sexualizing an under-aged girl (albeit fictional). Do I even have to point out how uncomfortable and creepy that is?! Even Frank Miller wouldn't dare try and sexualize teen girls, and he's the perv that turned Wonder Woman and Vicky Vale into fap material in the All-Star Batman & Robin comic book series!

Where was I? Oh, right: Cade is struggling to make ends meet, until he comes across a battered truck, filled with shells. It turns out to be Optimus Prime (once again voiced by Peter Cullen), the one Autobot a CIA strike force team led by Harold Attinger (Dr. Frasier Crane himself, Kelsey Grammer) is looking for to kill off and send his parts to Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), a Steve Jobs-type tycoon who's building his own Transformer army for the U.S. Military using the decapitated head of Megatron and other dead Decipticons, along with an element called "transformium" (step aside James Cameron, because we have found a name for an element that's even dumber than unobtanium!), which can transform into anything, including a Beats Pill sound system (now just $299 at Best Buy!) and Hello Kitty merchandise (there's a great bargain for Hello Kitty toys and posters right now at!). Sadly, it can't transform Ethan Krugler's script into something forming coherence. There's backroom deals that feel tacked on, like Frasier making a deal with the remaining Decipticons to kill off the Autobots, in exchange for something called "the seed" (Don't ask), a weapon that can create more "transformium" (Seriously, I feel dumber for saying that)  for him and Joyce to create more of their very own Transformer army. What they don't know is that the newly-created Galvatorn is using Joyce to help-rebuild his army, and by launching "the seed" he alone can use the element to create more Decipticons and enslave the world. Do you see just how convoluted and inconsistent this "plot" is now?

There's also other characters, like Shane (Jack Reynor) and Su Yueming (popular Chinese actress Li Bingbing) and new Autobots like Hound and Drift (voiced by John Goodman and Ken Wantanabe respectively), but they don't really make much impact or impression. Reynor's just the stereotypical hunk/love interest for Tessa; Goodman's the stereotypical hard ass/comic relief; and Bingbing and Wantanabe are in this solely to attract the Asian market. Even the Dinobots, the one new addition that could give this "film" a new lease on life, they don't appear until near the end of the film. Yes, Prime riding on top of a transforming tyrannosaurus rex robot in some of the film's posters and in the just the hook to get us to watch this overlong toy commercial for Hasbro. That comment sums up why Age of Extinction just plain sucks: It's product. Nothing more.

It's a commercial for Hasbro to keep selling their Transformers toy line; it's another way for Bud Light, Beats by Dre, General Motors and Ducati Motorcycles to shamelessly plug their products; and it's one more way for Paramount Pictures to exploit the fanboys and the Asian market by plugging in recognizable faces and characters to come out and see this bloated monstrosity. This film is both so carefully calculated and wildly incoherent that, frankly, only Bay himself could make something this damn awful and bereft of anything that qualifies as a summer blockbuster. It's not entertaining, it's not interesting, and it's not fun to watch in any regard. There's explosions and excellent visuals, but that's a moot point in my view, because all the Transformers movies have explosions and excellent visuals. There is literally nothing else about this movie I can say in a positive way. Last month I bitched at The Fault In Our Stars for being a cynical exercise in exploiting teenage girls' ideals on true love and romance. Transformers 4 is the opposite side of a two-headed coin that major studios love to play to see how much money they can rake in.

Oh, and Bay and Paramount are threatening two more sequels. God help us all.

Zero stars out of ****

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Netflix Files: Transformers 3

With Transformers: Age of Extinction hitting theaters tonight at 9 p.m. and because I haven't done this segment in ages I present to you the latest installment of The Netflix Files! Today, I'm looking back at the last chapter in Michael Bay's bloated Hasbro commercial, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but in order to tell this story, I'll need to touch back on 2009's infamous Revenge of the Fallen.

See, despite the first Trasnformers sequel making over $400 million in the U.S., the film received a thrashing by the critics: a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a score of 35 on Metacritic, winning top honors at the Razzies, and a few publications naming the sequel as one of the worst ever made. Even star Shia LeBeouf and Bay himself admitted the second Trasnformers outing wasn't particularly good and promised that the next one would be better. 

Well, they did keep their promise. Dark of the Moon is better than the hideous Revenge of the Fallen. For starters, the opening sequence is pretty dazzling, as it highlights the war on Cybertron, home to the Autobots. The sequence then shifts to Bay playing around with the space race of the 60's between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, using a crashed alien vehicle as the basis for the two nations to reach the moon first. The sequence highlights the aspect lost in the second film and briefly gained in this one: a sly playfulness; a movie that's self-aware of how silly this whole thing is, and decides to have fun using it's premise to toy with important historical dates, like the launch of Sputnik by the Soviets, and the landing on the moon by American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. There's a funny sequence where Sam Witwicky (LeBeouf) is job-hunting and tries to flaunt his Presidential Medal of Freedom to several companies. And there's a huge climatic battle set in Chicago that's actually fun to watch (including the sequence where Lazerbeak, Soundwave's henchbot, wraps his snake-like body around the Sears Tower), and it damn-near levels the city. 

Having said that, Dark of the Moon isn't a good movie. It's still too damn long (this one runs a few ticks over 2 1/2 hours), the action scenes become dull and repetitive after a while, and the acting is as bland as ever, particularly from Rosie Huntington-Whitley as Sam's new love interest, who is introduced as a pointless waking ass-shot to let everyone in the audience know that she's hot. You're wondering, 'what the hell happened to Megan Fox's Mikela?' Well, she and Bay had a falling out, with Fox calling the director Adolf Hitler, and executive producer Steven Spielberg wanting her off the project. Whitley took her place as Carly, and after her watching her try to act, I wished Fox hadn't opened her stupid mouth. There's other characters, like Patrick Dempsey of TV's Grey's Anatomy fame as a slimeball millionaire working with the Decipitcons; John Malcovich, Ken Jeong as Bay's trademark "wacky" comic releif; Oscar-winning actress Frances McDormand as the director of National Intelligence, as well as returning cast members Tyreese Gibson and Josh Duhamel as Master Sergeant Epps and Lt. Colonel Lennox respectively; and John Tuturro as Simmons. You can already spot another problem with this movie: too many characters are in here and none of them are given much to work with beyond what they already did in the first two movies and/or don't interact much with the other characters.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon isn't awful like it's predecessor, but neither is it anywhere near as fun and exciting as the original film that came out in the summer of 2007. It's more of the same robot-on-robot CG carnage, but with 3D slapped on it, and no Skids and Mudflap, thank Christ, and frankly, it's become boring to watch. But since studios think with box office returns (this made over $1 billion worldwide), another sequel had to be green-lighted. With a new cast and the appearance of the Dinobots, here's hoping Bay reverts to the same self-awareness the last two films lacked.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mr. Brown Verses Bland, Weepy Teen Melodrama

Todd in the Shadows once said that he defined the worst hit song of the calendar year as a song being the absence of good. At the time, I didn't really understood what he meant when he chose "Tonight Tonight", by Hot Chelle Rae in 2011 and "Roar", by Katy Perry in 2013.

Last night, I finally understood what he meant. Because, I, too, have seen a movie that's the absence of good. Todd meant that a song could make you angry, the beat could drive you insane, the lyrics could be insulting and simply lazy, but, in his eyes, those two aforementioned songs had nothing going for them. Nothing lyrically, nothing catchy, nothing offensive, nothing that could make you feel insulted, angry or simply seeing red, because there's literally nothing about it that can make you feel anything.

That movie belongs to Bland, Weepy Teen Melodrama, the latest attempt to suck money out of teen girls....I mean, young adult novel by Second Rate Nicholas Sparks that became a best-seller with the teen market, and has now become a film adaptation because 20th Century Fox thinks they can make a shit load of money with a modest budget...sorry, because the studio wanted to tell this cliched story of girl meets boy, girl falls for boy, tragedy ensues-type predictable storyline...dammit, I mean tell this heartbreaking and romantic tale of star-crossed lovers.

Pretty Girl Lovebird  (Shaileen Woodley) is dying of terminal lymphoma cancer. She spends her time reading Morbid Book That Will Tie Into the Plot and going to cancer outreach groups at the behest of Constantly Overbearing Mother Who Means Well (Laura Dern). She despises going to these things because they just don't understand how she's feeling. Not the guy who has cancer in his balls and has become a Jesus freak, nor the other patients who are going through chemotherapy, or who, like her, are currently awaiting the day when the Grimm Reaper comes to collect. Everyone except Pretty Boy Love Interest, who's funny, incredibly handsome and has a deep philosophy about life has a clue about what she's going through. They bond over Morbid Book That Will Tie Into the Plot over the story ending in mid sentence, and, through sheer perseverance and persistence, are given a full-expenses paid trip to Amsterdam to meet Recluse, Bitter Author (Willem Dafoe). The trip gives our Doomed Lovebirds time to fall madly in love with each other and say Swoon-Worthy Romantic Dialogue like, "I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable...and I am in love with you", that makes your heart go pitter-patter and not, in any way, wonder what two-bit hack came up with pretentious garbage like this.

Ok, I'm going to drop the thick-heavy sarcasm and say, bluntly what I thought of The Fault In Our Stars. It's so bland to look at because there just ins't much originality outside the leads going though illness and connecting because of it.You want to roll your eyes each time you hear Gus talk to Hazel Grace because the words flowing out of his mouth come off as some pretentious twat who's just trying to get inside her pants. Worst of all, this film is nothing more than an exercise in crafting a film that will hit all the right buttons of the female demographic and make a lot of money for the Hollywood machine. I hate what this film: a studio that thinks that their target audience will watch anything that speaks to them and their romanticized version of first love, regardless of the film's lack-of creativity. It's Hollywood cynicism at it's most blatant, and you know the sad part in all of this? This weekend, they were proven right: the John Green YA novel made $48 million over the three-day weekend, while inventive and interesting summer flicks like the Tom Cruise vehicle Edge of Tomorrow struggled to make $30 million over 72-hours. That's right: an empty, soulless exercise in making teen girls swoon and making money opened at no.1 at the box office. And we fell for it, hook, line and sinker. It's not so much giggling at us, as they are clutching their sides in fits of howling laughter while clutching their earnings to the bank.

* star our of ****