Selma - ★★★½☆
So many biographies in the Oscar field this year. I think this one might have been ripe for more acting nods than it got, but I bet it's not Best Picture. Also, I have no idea how someone decides what the best acting or movie is in order to award a prize. This movie as a whole is like a long slow zoom in from a panorama of the civil rights movement to King himself.
I thought this movie stood in contrast to American Sniper or Imitation Game in its appropriate use of captions to summarize how the characters would turn out.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 - ★★½☆☆
This is the first 3D movie I've seen in ages. Lots of fun flying, but not as good a movie as the first one. Very happy that it wasn't a standard 'lost powers' plot, but it felt pretty paint-by-numbers, marking time until it's a trilogy. The supporting cast of dragon riders is completely wasted.
There was a Q&A afterward where it was fun to see Djimon Hounsou politely express his surprise that his character turned out to be white.
Lone Survivor - ★★½☆☆
It's weird, the different versions of realism. Like American Sniper, in which gunshot victims generally fall down and require medical attention, this is a story based on a biographical book and an actual soldier. Except these characters withstand action hero levels of punishment and press on, perhaps more damaged mentally than physically. Neither one is exactly crammed full of plot, but this one felt more visceral, and therefore a little harder to watch.
Also, I wondered while watching this if every SEAL class does identical training exercises, or if the makers of Sniper just watched this movie for research. The scenes seemed remarkably alike.
Blackhat - ½☆☆☆☆
This movie hit me like a wind turbine hits a bird. There's just nothing in nature to prepare you for how boring this movie is. It's like a 70s movie that squeezes every bit of action into the trailer because they know you're not going to go see a movie that advertises hours of embarrassing dialogue.
Luckily, it's not just boring, it's also really long, featuring multiple trips into a deep visualization of the information superhighway and a completely nonsensical gun battle. I don't remember it now, but there was probably some kind of long car chase too.
Also interesting: apparently this is not this cinematographer's first movie. That probably means that the weird shutter stuff is on purpose, as is that scene in the emergency trailer that looks like it was shot on a phone. I laughed out loud when the first fight scene began and we kicked into Intense Shaky Cam mode.
No wonder the ticket taker had such concern in her eyes for us...