"Despicable Me 2" is a smartly realized sequel that equals Part 1's… More"Despicable Me 2" is a smartly realized sequel that equals Part 1's excellence without merely copying it. "DM2" moves the plot along and evolves our central protagonist forward in a believable way that doesn't betray the audience's affection for the character.
This time around Gru is now being recruited for his reputation as an evil genius by the Anti-Villain League team to help them catch a villain who stole a powerful mutagen. The story is a simple and clever way to allow Gru to use some of his villainous tricks without betraying the character's advancement from the first film. He ended that film a devoted father and in "2" he is still that.
The film still squeezes most of its laughs from its minions but it does so without monopolizing the plot or rehashing the first film's gags. The voice performances are on the money with Steve Carrell and Kristen Wiig having the time of their lives with their characters.
The only slight downfall is that other than Gru, the other characters aren't given anything original to do. Margo has a teenage crush, Dr. Nefario misses being evil, El Macho is a pretty stereotypical Mexican - nothing that hasn't been done before. "2" could have transcended the first one if it had offered those characters a bit more to do.
But it's all about Gru and the Minions - and those two reasons alone make "DM2" a wonderful treat.
More of a gory art experiment than a coherent movie, "Maniac" is… MoreMore of a gory art experiment than a coherent movie, "Maniac" is watchable (when you're not squirming away from the gore) but ultimately uninteresting and unstimulating. Instead of an interesting take on serial murder and the mental illness that causes it, "Maniac" is just a filmmaker's attempt to showboat gory art.
Elijah Wood is an interesting casting choice that is ultimately fumbled. By shooting the film in 1st person perspective, Wood isn't allowed to show how he's matching the character's torment. The victims could have been running away from anybody with a knife, his presence isn't used to effectively convey his menace other than his penchant for angry mutilation.
"Maniac" is a remake of the 1981 cult classic slasher flick. That version used its low guerilla-style filming to add to the subject matter's depravity. 2013 moves the action from New York to Los Angeles and that move seems to hurt the film as well. NY's 1981 grittiness really helps to add to the believability of the menace, LA 2013, on the other hand, seems a bit fictional and forced.
"Maniac" is undeniably gory, but ultimately it's undeniably pointless.
"Dallas Buyers Club" is more enjoyable as a tour-de-force performance… More"Dallas Buyers Club" is more enjoyable as a tour-de-force performance piece than a fully-realized film, but boy do those performances make up for whatever flaws the film has.
Watching Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto is standing-ovation worthy. They embody their roles so fully that you can't help but be mesmerized by how well they portry their characters. McConaughey's growth as an actor is astounding considering the career choices he's made, and you got to hand it to Leto who plays Rayon so comfortably and lived in that he avoids stereotypes that normally come with actors playing transgender roles.
The film is pretty powerful on other levels as well, especially in the way it shows the neglect AIDS received in its early days and the prejudice surrounding the disease.
But because McConaughey and Leto are so good, it showcases the rest of the cast which practically disappears. Jennifer Garner does nothing with her role and just plays her as Jennifer Garner - but brings no real emotional arc, passion or unique characterization to her portrayal. The rest of the cast are stock interpretation to stock characters.
"Dallas Buyers Club" is a must see for the lead two performances. Their great work allows for an important story to be powerfully told.