Sex Tape is yet another film that is destined to be panned by critics, but reasonably enjoyed by audiences. Most moviegoers will head to their local cinema, enjoy a popcorn, and have a few laughs and wonder why critics hated this movie so much. At the time this review is being written, the film sits at a score of 16% on the movie review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com. Many will find this score low for a movie that entertained them for a bit of their free time. Sure, a few will share the derision of the critics, but most people will be able to find enough to enjoy. There are a number of laughs, a couple outlandishly funny characters, and enough racy humor for most adult moviegoers. So, why do critics hate it so much?
Let’s start at the beginning. Sex Tape follows Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel), a couple fast approaching middle age, who like many people with children, find their sex life almost non-existent. This is in stark contrast to the early portions of their relationship where sex was a driving force in their love for each other. Annie’s thoughtful narration takes us through this early portion of their relationship, where she describes every scary detail of their sex life, including items like Jay’s constant erections. Their current situation of parenthood has robbed them of the time and energy, and most importantly the sex life they thought they would always have. This situation leads to an inspiration by Annie. A night away from the kids to rekindle the romance. Despite many false starts, the couple finally spices up their life by creating a sex tape using their iPad. Unfortunately for them, the video is uploaded to the cloud, and to numerous devices they’ve given people over the years. The couple must quickly track down all their devices, and erase the video before their closest family and friends see their special moment.
Michael Bay is a bit of a conundrum. His films are consumed greedily by audiences, and near universally panned by critics. Even the critics who give his films a pass do so begrudgingly. Transformers: Age of Extinction could get a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and it will still likely be one of the biggest releases of the year, if not the biggest. Audiences are enthralled with Bay’s explosion filled visions, and are happy to ignore many of the lesser sins of storytelling to get their action fix. Bay’s films are pure escapist fantasy and aren’t meant to be films for the artistic elite. Despite the overall silliness, I loved the first Transformers film. It had a lot of heart, and numerous thrilling action set pieces which appeared to my inner child that lives a bit too close to the surface. I found myself bored by the second film, and saw a slight bit of redemption with the third film in the series. My hope was that the series could reach the heights of the first film, and ditch some of the baggage brought on in the first trilogy. As I quickly found out, it was the hope of a fool.
Transformers: Age of Extinction takes place 5 years after the events Transformers: Dark of the Moon. It’s a bleak time that sees government operatives hunting both Decepticons and Autobots alike. After the destruction of Chicago at the hands of Megatron, shady government figures have found an excuse to target Transformers and hijack their tech. The unlikely intervention of a failed inventor, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), and his discovery of the injured Optimus Prime set in motion a series of events that finds our heroes facing new foes.
Ahh, January we meet again. Most savvy filmgoers will know that January is a month of award season holdouts and a studio wasteland. Studios tend to release projects they have little to no faith in during the January slaughter, in hopes that they will gain traction with an audience ready to move on from the holiday season. Usually there will be one breakout of the month, but usually along the lines of Paul Blart: Mall Cop or Kangaroo Jack. With standouts like these, you can imagine that quality is a limited source throughout January. Coming off the high of the best films of the year, critics are deemed with the task of enduring the few new films that are released throughout the month. So dim is the prospect of quality, that a by-the-numbers action flick can seem like a great lead-in to a new film series.
Many are familiar with Jack Ryan, either by reading Tom Clancy’s books featuring the characters or in films like The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears. This film isn’t a continuation of any of the previous films, rather an attempt to restart the franchise. This time actor Chris Pine steps into the role of Jack Ryan, shoes previously filled by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. Ryan’s story might not have the same exact background as his predecessors, but it is close. Ryan is still an economics student who joins the military only to be pushed out of action by a helicopter crash. Many other details are the same, while others are changed in an effort to modernize the character beyond the original Cold War beginnings.
Tired of remakes, rehashes, and sequels? Well, you’ll need to look elsewhere if you want original content. Delivery Man is a remake of a 2011 French-Canadian film by the name of Starbuck. Writer/Director Ken Scott has teamed up with Vince Vaughn to bring his story to American audiences. It’s also noteworthy that the film is also being remade for Bollywood and a French version of the film titled Fonzy was released this year as well. If nothing else, it has studio appeal.
David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) is a loveable screwup. Sure, he puts his family in danger with his shady debts, and is quite possibly the world’s worst delivery driver, but he makes up for it with his shining charm. David’s case of arrested development comes screeching to a halt when the fertility clinic he donated sperm to years ago in exchange for cash, informs him that due to a mix up, he is the father of 533 children. In addition, these children are now trying to sue for the legal identity of their father. The shocking revelation doesn’t send David into a spiral of self-destruction, instead it gives him the motivation to turn his life around, and prove to his girlfriend he can be a father to their future child. David slowly starts to take an active role in his children’s lives, and his actions cause trouble for his eventual court case. David’s eventual struggle between keeping his identity and allowing his children to know who he is, is the focal point of the film.
Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is a prodigy. He has quite possibly the best military mind in the world, and he’s still a child. In an effort to stem further violence from an alien invasion force known as the Formics, Ender and other children are trained throughout their young lives to become military strategists and soldiers. With their window to take down the Formics slowly closing, Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) is tasked with quickly getting Ender up to speed, and helping him reach his true potential. Ender is sent to Battle School where he must go up against the best and brightest. The success of his training may ultimately decide humanity’s fate.
Regarded as one of the best science fiction novels of all-time, Ender’s Game has been sought for film adaptation for years. Unfortunately, the novel is dense with themes that aren’t easily pulled to the screen. When fans of the book heard the film was finally making its way to the silver screen, there was some apprehension most of their parts. Fans were immediately put off when the studio aged up the characters quite a bit for greater mass appeal. Fans of the book will be impressed with how true to the book the film is at most times, but will be equally frustrated the condensed nature of the film. Many favorite moments will be left out, and due to the deletion of some scenes, Ender may not feel like a full fleshed out character to some fans.