Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Despicable Me 2
Despicable Me 2 has moments of cuteness that are on par with its predecessor, but unfortunately it seems a bit dumbed-down and lacks a lot of the originality that made the first movie memorable. Steve Carell’s Gru is still entertaining and the trio of girls under his care have likewise retained their charm, but the studio has gone way overboard with Gru’s minions here, having obviously pegged them as the crowd-pleasers and highly marketable as toys. This means that there are way too many tangental minion gags, and I was bored by every one of them. Also, the final act of the movie feels far too simple, as though they had set up a twist ending with regards to the villain but instead opted for the ending that could be understood by even the dumbest audience members. They also ruin any good credit that Kristen Wiig’s character, a spunky anti-villain agent who is brimming with enthusiasm at all times, had earned by throwing her into a typical damsel-in-distress position at the film’s climax. For all my complaints, though, this movie is inoffensive and enjoyable enough. I’ll probably never watch it again myself, but if I were tasked with babysitting some young kids, I would have no qualms about putting this movie on to watch with them.
2.5 out  of 5

The Conjuring
By far one of the scariest haunted house movies I’ve seen, The Conjuring delivers terror in spades. Director James Wan clearly understands why the cliches of the haunted house horror sub-genre work, and rather than try too hard to find new ways to scare us, he just uses the old methods to great effect. The film moves at a swift pace and you never find yourself getting bored or wishing for the ghosts to pop up – quite the opposite, in fact, as I found myself dreading the next appearence of the evil forces tormenting the main characters. The main cast all give good performances, with the standouts being Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston (in a surprisingly serious turn for him) all completely selling the notion that they’re scared out of their minds. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this movie a masterpiece overall, but as a horror film I think it qualifies. I won’t ruin any of the plot twists here, even though I know you’ve seen similar things done in other haunted house movies, but I will say that for a horror fan, this is satisfying through and through. If you’re susceptible to being scared by movies, watch this with all the lights on.
4 out of 5

The Awakening
Here’s a haunted house movie that is lacking one of the key elements of a good haunted house film: escalation. As a general rule, the longer people in a movie stay in a haunted house, the worse the haunting is supposed to become. This gives the haunting a sense of progression and lends some urgency to the characters figuring out what’s going on before it’s too late and one of them winds up dead. Sadly, The Awakening introduces the mystery of the haunting at the centre of its plot and then just sits there, with the haunting not escalating in the slightest. As such, I found myself pretty bored throughout most of the movie, to the point where the final reveal of just what was going on the whole time completely fell flat. The jump scares aren’t even that great. The Awakening isn’t a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, but it felt utterly uninspired, to the point where I just didn’t care about anything going on in it.
2.5 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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