Winter-Spring 2016 Mini Movie Reviews


Key Players: Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo

SpotlightEven though I’ve only spent a couple of short months in a real hustle-and-bustle newsroom and never at a major paper, I still get really amped when I watch movies about that kind of setting. It takes me back to when I worked for my college paper—the Spotlight team’s tiny room sectioned off from the rest of the staff made me nostalgic for our tiny computer lab in the basement of the student union, heavy with the scent of newsprint and stale coffee.

Spotlight truly deserved its Best Picture win—what a powerful film. As a journalist, I easily related to their passion for the story, their sense of duty to discover the truth and unveil it to the world. As a former Catholic school kid, the statistics were staggering. Based on true facts, Spotlight tells the story of how The Boston Globe exposed the wide-spread scandal of pedophilic priests and the massive cover-up within the Catholic Church. It hit the front page of the Sunday paper in early 2002 and sent shockwaves around the country—and, as the end credits show, the world.

Should you see it?
If you enjoy journalism movies or are interested in the subject matter. I highly recommend it.



Key Players: Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy

The Revenant

I really only saw this because I try to see all Best Picture nominees before the awards, plus everyone was saying it might finally win Leo an Oscar (it did). True story aside, it just didn’t look very interesting and my opinion didn’t change much after I left the theater. The cinematography was truly impressive though—all the buzz about only being shot in natural light was justified. The film was indeed beautiful. But I couldn’t stomach the bear attack and there were some fairly graphic scenes that were rather hard to watch. Hugh Glass overcame overwhelming odds to exact his revenge on those who left him for dead and I suppose that makes his story worth telling. However, the movie really dragged for me, bogged down with hallucinations of his (fictional, film-only) Pawnee wife, an increasingly exhausting fixation on sky shots, and so. Much. Grunting.

Should you see it?
If only to watch the performance that finally allows us to introduce “Academy Award Winner Leonardo DiCaprio.”



Key Players: Ryan Reynolds

DeadpoolI understand this comic adaptation was a big deal to a lot of people. The friend I went with had already seen it twice when she went with me and she couldn’t stop talking about how amazing it was. So I think I was just missing what appealed to its crazed fans. I haven’t seen X-Men nor do I know much about them, is that it? If you already follow one mega-superhero clique (in my case, I guess that would be the Avengers), do you just become indifferent to the rest? Because there really are so many. Whatever the case may be, I wasn’t really into it. It surprised me a bit, because I’m quite fond of Ryan Reynolds. And while I did enjoy his meta snark and there were some moments that made me laugh, ultimately I just really didn’t care about the (heavily choreographed) climax of the film, which to me made viewing feel pretty pointless. There’s already a sequel in the works though, so I’m clearly in the minority of most audiences.

Should you see it?
If you’re obsessed with Deadpool, any comic movie whatsoever, or you want to know what Ryan Reynolds looks like after his face starts to resemble “a testicle with teeth.”



Key Players: Jason Bateman and Ginnifer Goodwin

ZootopiaDisney does such impressive work with animation, making animals not made of much more than pixels and color just impossibly adorable. The trailer for this flick made the plot seem a little thin, but that was to be expected for a kids movie. However, for those who still decided to go, they were pleasantly surprised with hilarious and brilliant references to everything from “The Godfather” to “Breaking Bad” with a rather dark metaphorical plot twist. I laughed so hard at one particular scene (Little Rodentia) that my sides hurt.

Should you see it?
If you have kids or you’re just an eternal kid at heart, you’ll love it. Bottom line, never doubt Disney. They know what they’re doing.


The Divergent Series: ALLEGIANT

Key Players: Shailene Woodley and Theo James

AllegiantAs yet another futuristic YA dystopia draws to a close, I’ve been waiting to see how the movies would continue to improve upon the books’ inconsistencies. I really loved the first book and I thought the first film brought it to life beautifully. It was an easy feat though, seeing as how the first chapter of the story was the simplest one to tell. I grew increasingly frustrated with the Divergent trilogy as it progressed, never quite knowing what was going on in Insurgent and absolutely appalled at the convoluted mess that Allegiant was. Of course, the final book was split into two parts for their film adaptations, giving the conclusion a completely new name (Ascendant).

When I went to see part 1, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Overall, I left feeling ready for a return to normalcy. It’s possible I need a refresher on the series—I haven’t read the books since I plowed through all three before the release of the first movie—but the plot seemed incredibly aimless and fluffy, which often happens to the intro segment of a film conclusion that gets needlessly split to make more money at the box office. What was intended to be some big reveals fell flat and it’s hard to see where the film will land when it finally comes to an end. I’m most interested to see if they’ll keep the controversial twist (major character death) or pull a 180 on us all.

Should you see it?
If you’re following the saga or curious to see how the film differs from the book.



Key Players: Sally Field and Max Greenfield

DorisWell, Sally Field can do no wrong. I think we can all agree on that. I’ve always been a fan of hers—how can you not be?—and her appearance on Ellen with her co-star prompted me to read up on this film. The trailer looked really cute, so I went with my mom. (We both watch “New Girl,” so we were also there to see Max play someone other than over-enunciating goofball Schmidt.) The film was perfectly charming, albeit a little bittersweet. Doris has endured a rather demure existence caring for her hoarder mother, but when she’s suddenly allowed to live her own life, she has to reevaluate what that could mean. Helped along by her imaginative fantasies which now include her much younger colleague, she starts behaving like a desperate teenager, the kind that thinks the slightest glance means so much more, over-thinking (over-hoping, really) that something is about to come from nothing. The predictable outcome is a very sad reminder that you shouldn’t wait to take chances.

Should you see it?
To watch Sally Field at her most adorable. To watch Max Greenfield at his most adorable. And for a healthy dose of perspective—it’s OK to live your life for you.


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