Joel has written 45 reviews for films rated ★★½ during 2015.

  • Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

    Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

    ★★½

    The tale of three scouts that must save the day after a zombie apocalypse breaks out, Scouts Guide may take a little too long to get into the action, may be low of character development(often sticking to stereotypes and common teen troupes instead of crafting complex characters) and may often opt for the bottom of the barrel for its humor, but as a whole, it is a fun time to be had.
    Tye Sheridan is a decent actor, but is…

  • Burnt

    Burnt

    ★★½

    Bradley Cooper stars as a chef looking for his third Michelin star(a most prestigious of accomplishments in the culinary game) and while not all audiences will like the gruff character he plays at times, Bradley Cooper brings a lot of passion and charisma to the character. He also reunites with Sienna Miller(from American Sniper) and their chemistry is even stronger this outing. Alicia Vikander adds her amazing acting to a supporting (she is owning this year so far) and Daniel…

  • Our Brand Is Crisis

    Our Brand Is Crisis

    ★★½

    Our Brand Is Crisis is a drama about a Bolivian campaign for presidency and a strategist known for "calamity" played by Sandra Bullock that might just be able to help sway the course of the election. Sandra Bullock is great when she's on her game and subpar when she's not (often within the same year as evident by her Razzie and Oscar contention for separate films within the same year). Here it looks like she's trying but her character is…

  • Monkey Kingdom

    Monkey Kingdom

    ★★½

    The Disney spun tale of a mother monkey and her child and her journey to protect the child, Monkey Kingdom is a well shot documentary and Tina Fey does a great voice acting job telling the story. The film is visually engaging and it's great to see how the hierarchy of the animal kingdom effects how animals live, but overall the film just stays away from heavy subjects to keep the film fun for kids and feels more visually honest than narratively engaging.
    4.5/10

  • Maggie

    Maggie

    ★★½

    Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a father that must protect his daughter played by Abigail Breslin that has become infected by the zombie virus. It is cool to see Arnold in a dramatic film where he can utilize his acting chops and he brings a layered performance to the role as he is quite believable as the father who will do anything for his daughter. The slowing moving element of the virus also allow Breslin time to interact with Arnold and…

  • No Escape

    No Escape

    ★★½

    Owen Wilson stars in this film about a businessman that moves to Southeast Asia to help make the water better but soon finds himself in an all out war between the government and the people and realizes he might not be there for the best of reasons. The pace of the film is frantic but the action is cut so choppily that its hard to see what's happening. Owen Wilson isn't really action hero material but he does capture the…

  • Slow West

    Slow West

    ★★½

    Slow West is a slow moving western from newcomer director John M. Maclean about a young man (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) traveling cross country to find his girlfriend while the law hunts down the mysterious traveler(played by Michael Fassbender) he is traveling with. The film feels more like a character piece/ time period piece for much of the film, often depending on the chemistry of McPhee and Fassbender and their dialogue to keep the film intriguing but they both deliver…

  • Brotherly Love

    Brotherly Love

    ★★½

    Brotherly Love is an honest look at life of the streets when an up and coming basketball star tries to keep his dream alive while dealing with the pressure of the streets and his brother who watched his dream die.
    The film has some great performances by Keke Palmer, Quincy Brown (who have a fun side storyline where they have romantic feelings while both trying to get music careers off the ground), Corey Hardict and even a role for Macy…

  • Wild Tales

    Wild Tales

    ★★½

    A film about human behavior and the barbaric behaviors we sometimes let ourselves go to, Wild Tales is an anthology of stories that are darkly hilarious and fascinating. Like most anthology film, there will be certain stories that will hit different audience goers differently(some were so darkly humorously they had me in stitches while I found others bland by comparison). The acting is top-notch and the score just enhanced every scene so beautifully. The way the film satirizes life in…

  • Ricki and the Flash

    Ricki and the Flash

    ★★½

    Meryl Strep plays an aging singer/guitarist who sacrificed her family for fame, but returns home to set thing right and drama ensues. Strep is great in role(but it is Strep so how could you expect anything less from her) in a story that hits all the beats that a redemption story usually has (and not as well executed as say "Crazy Heart" or others of the same ilk). Strep also has great chemistry with Kevin Kline(as her ex-husband) and even…

  • The Visit

    The Visit

    ★★½

    A dark comedy masquerading as a horror film, M.Night Shyamalan low budget Blumhouse film about two kids who go to spend a weekend with their grandparents who act strange during the day and stranger at night is definitely a return to basics for M Night. There definitely are some tension filled scenes that had some great atmospheric suspense to them(even if the tension was usually broken by a lazy jump scare).
    The children actors are actually really good in their…

  • The Overnight

    The Overnight

    ★★½

    A comedy about a couple new to town(played by Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling) that meet an unusual couple(played by Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godreche) and decide to have a couples date of sorts. The film starts off subdued but the night soon begins to unravel (to more raunchy humor) but in a way that feels natural to the story. Scott and Schilling's innocence that they bring to their works well off of Schwartzman's bizarreness(same character that he plays in…