Pitch Perfect 2
So I didn’t want this movie to be made. Pitch Perfect was wonderful and it would be hard to duplicate the magic of that first movie. Most of it was because as an audience we watched the introverted Beca (Anna Kendrick) grow to accept and be accepted by a social group. A second movie couldn’t duplicate that. Beca couldn’t grow again. Or could she?
Pitch Perfect 2 begins with the Barden Bellas performing for President Obama’s birthday when Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) has a wardrobe malfunction and ends up flashing the president and the world. The Bellas, now a national disgrace, are banned from all nataional a capella competitions and can’t even defend their title. Their championship tour has now been taken over by European aca-champions, Das Sound Machine. The Bellas only hope is to win the world championships where no American team has ever won. If they win Worlds they’ll be reinstated.
But it’s been three years and Beca has finally gotten an internship at a music production company. Beca is still queen of the mash-up but as the head of the company says “any kid with some talent and a computer can do that.” Does Beca have more in her than singing covers in an acapella group? She needs to prove that she does and is not able to devote as much time to the Bellas set list for Worlds. Beca is uncertain about proving herself after school and she is still able to grow.
There are more than enough silly moments: the Green Bay Packers, Beca’s strange attraction for the DSM female lead — Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen,) Bumper (Adam DeVine) and Fat Amy’s on again and off again romance. Speaking of romance, Jesse (Skylar Astin) is still there and still dating Beca and he and Benji (Ben Platt) are still part of the Trebletones. Even Benji has a love interest in new Bella, Emily (Hailee Steinfeld). And of course the songs. There is even more singing in this version and I found it welcome. It has it’s share of awkward moments. The first movie concentrated too much on Aubrey’s (Anna Camp) puking and some awkward jokes between aca-announcers John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (new aca-director, Elizabeth Banks). This one doesn’t have the puking but the banter between the John and Gail is even more awkward this time around.
I haven’t mentioned the other Bellas because apart from Chloe (Brittany Snow) none of them have any real development apart from some fun character moments. But they’re not supposed to, this is Beca’s movie and it survives on her character arc and it survives. On a weekend where I saw Mad Max first, Pitch Perfect 2 made me forget that movie for a few hours.
There is a wonderful stinger after the curtain call well worth staying for.
Mad Max: Fury Road
I’m not even sure how to talk about this movie. I spent most of my time with my jaw dropped or giggling at the sheer insanity of this film. Fury Road is easily one of the best things I’ve seen in years.
Occasionally you get a movie so simple and well done, you cannot help but love it. Dredd, The Raid: Redemption and John Wick are examples of this. John Wick just wanted revenge on the guys who killed his dog. But the world they created, a world of assassins, was a fascinating if slightly alternate reality from what we know.
The world of Fury Road is a drastic, dystopian world, far different from our own. Created by George Miller who wrote and directed not only the other 3 Mad Max films but also Babe: Pig in the City (he only wrote Babe) as well as the Happy Feet movies. I freely admit I find Pig in the City to be one of the most surreal, horrific films I’ve ever seen because of the world building Miller did in creating the City. There is a moment when driving through the salt marshes where we see people crawling on stilts and I just shuddered at how creepy the imagery was.
Mad Max is not really about Max (Tom Hardy.) He, like Clint Eastwood in the Stranger with No Name films, is just there. It’s someone else’s story and he, however pivotal, is just along for the ride. We don’t even learn Max’s name until the very end. This story’s about Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). She’s a driver for Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne,) a cruel despot, who rules a large population by controlling the water. Joe and all of his people are, genetically, a mess with deformities and disease. He has a harem of wives and Furiousa is part of a plot to rescue them. What does this have to do with Max? Well, he was captured by Joe’s forces and is being used as a living blood bank. When Joe discovers Furiosa’s treachery he leads a force after her and Max is brought along to provide blood to Nux (Nicholas Hoult,) one of Joe’s warrior drivers. Max escapes and commandeers Furiosa’s truck but takes them with — the two hardened individuals eventually respecting and trusting each other.
I started by talking about simplicity. None of that sounds all that simple, and it isn’t. But the story, the real story is just driving to escape Joe. All the other parts just add to that story. Max and Furiosa don’t say much, they don’t need to — they understand what needs to be done and with a glance they understand if the other does as well and then they do it. The movie is just about driving and surviving. When I saw Hobbit 3 I felt worn down by the endless action. Avengers 2 had this to a lesser degree but Fury Road has no such issues. It was nearly endless action and none of it was boring.
It’s one of the few recent movies I really wanted to see again and I almost snuck in after Pitch 2 but wasn’t sure I had properly digested what I had seen. I plan to see it again. This viewing was in 3D just due to how things fell. I sat in the front of the stadium seating (not in the pit.) The movie mostly day, desert scenes were so bright, the added darkness of 3D was mostly not noticeable.
I saw the following trailers before Fury Road: Dope, The Gift, Sinister 2, Entourage, Fant4stic, Jurassic World, The Walk. I was really surprised because I had no idea at all of the first two and Dope (also staring Zoe Kravitz who was in Fury Road) looked like a lot of fun.
A few weeks back I also saw Rifftrax: The Room and it was hilarious.