Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rapid Reviews: Pitch Perfect 2 and Poltergeist (2015)

In 2012 the Barden Bellas took audiences by storm with their unique a capella skills. And this year, the collection of harmonizing misfits return to keep their brand and tradition in tact with Pitch Perfect 2. Some changes have been made, though. Funny-woman and co-star Elizabeth Banks takes the reins as director in her major motion picture debut and there are some new interesting Bellas added to the mix.

After a trio of collegiate national championships, the Barden Bellas are the country's most recognized a capella group. That is, until a wardrobe malfunction at an event hosting the president of the U.S. turns the group into a hated and mocked laughing-stock that results in their banishment from competitive singing. The only way the Bellas can resurrect their sisterhood is by becoming the first American group to win the world championship.

As someone who initially felt that Pitch Perfect was an over-hyped and overrated comedy, it slowly became a guilty pleasure for me. I enjoyed the original less for its storylines and more for the vocal mastery that is actually quite impressive. Its sequel takes a hit all across the board. Pitch Perfect 2's subplots are forced, its jokes are weaker and the song arrangements are almost, but not nearly, as effective as its predecessor. Thankfully, though, fantastic cameos are given by Snoop Lion and NFL sack-master, Clay Mathews III, that assist in keeping Pitch Perfect 2 tolerable as the minutes pile on and filmmaker Elizabeth Banks prides herself with far too much screen time.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C+

Thanks to a barren amount of originality floating throughout Tinseltown, remakes have become a necessity in the film industry, especially with the horror genre. Gil Kenan reworks Steven Spielberg's original story idea as director of this year's reboot, Poltergeist.

After their father (Sam Rockwell) loses his job, the Bowens reluctantly relocate to a new suburban home. But once strange occurrences around the house begin to escalate to frightening heights, the family realizes that they're being terrorized by angry spirits who have kidnapped their youngest daughter, Madison (Kennedi Clements). They must enlist the help of a paranormal expert and band together to save Maddy.

Times have changed and, nowadays, a PG-13 rating for a horror movie is a huge red flag. So as expected, Poltergeist runs low on terrifying scares and delivers some of the most unforgivable dialogue I've seen in a long time. As an outspoken fan of the versatile Sam Rockwell, even his most dedicated talents can't keep this chintzy remake from disaster. A brutal screenplay from David Lindsay-Abaire and a large collection of awful supporting performances plague this harshly lacking scary movie. Do yourself a favor a huge favor and take a pass on Poltergeist.

Stars: 1 star out of 4

Grade: D

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