Category Archives: Film Reviews

“Logan” Film Review: An Epic Superhero Finale That Bleeds With Emotion and Carnage

logan-excerptJames Mangold’s Logan finally gives Jackman an opportunity to spread his claws and partake in all the graphic dismemberment that Wolverine fans deserve and that’s pretty much what diehard fans have been craving for the past decade and a half.

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“Fist Fight” Film Review: Comedy Lands a Couple Good Jabs, But Not a Knockout

fist-fight-excerptFist Fight delivers everything you expect to the point where it is predictable and unimaginative — but you watch it anyway because it has some talented, funny people in it. It feels like the kind of comedy that Hollywood made because they felt like this is exactly what the audiences wanted.

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XX Film Review: A Fierce and Frightening Foursome of Female-Directed Films

xx-excerptThe quartet of films helmed by an all-female crew including Roxanne Benjamin, Jovanka Vuckovic, Karyn Kusama, and musician-turned-director Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent) deliver four very different kind of scares that, although not pee-in-your-pants terrifying, keep in tradition of the horror anthologies before it.

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Fifty Shades Darker Film Review: The Heaping Pile of Garbage All of Us Wanted

fifty-shades-excerptFifty Shades Darker is the latest serving of the bland relationship adventures of the overwhelmingly basic Anastasia Steele and her painfully dull billionaire beau Christian Grey. As expected, the movie is terrible on all fronts — not “so bad that it’s good” terrible, but “I wish this franchise never existed” terrible.

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A Cure For Wellness Film Review: No Remedy For This Long, Drawn-Out Thriller

cure-excerptAfter being known primarily for the box office spectacle that is the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, it’s refreshing to see Verbinski take a nihilistic and Gothic turn with A Cure For Wellness, but there are too many ideas here and how they are sorted makes the movie a wonderfully art directed mess.

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John Wick: Chapter 2 Film Review: Unapologetically Rougher, Louder, and Wickier

JW2_D35_2333.cr2If you didn’t get enough brutal bone-crushing action and inimitable gunfight choreography in the first John Wick, then John Wick: Chapter 2 will quench that thirst for more violent bloodlust and good ol’ fashioned stone-faced Keanu Reeves acting.

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The Lego Batman Movie Film Review: A Sweet Skewering of the Superhero Genre

lego-batman-excerptAnimated spin-offs tend to work very well and The Lego Batman Movie is no exception. Keeping in spirit with its predecessor, director Chris McKay balances mature wit and child-like silliness to tell a surprisingly heartfelt superhero tale.

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Rings Film Review: An Unsurprisingly Unnecessary Horror Sequel

rings-excerptAfter 12 years, you would think that the world would be ready for another Ring movie. More than that, you would think that would be enough time to develop a juicy story that could build on top of such an iconic franchise — but don’t hold your breath. The world would have been fine without this excruciatingly boring sequel.

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The Space Between Us Film Review: Just Your Average Tale of Intergalactic Teenage Love

space-excerptThe sci-fi romance has the making of a sweet, old-fashioned Disney tale, but lacks another layer of magic and charm to make it a fully effective, well-rounded movie. It has its moments, but it will eventually blend into the late January/early February movie dumping ground.

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Lakeith Stanfield & Nnamdi Asomugha Shine In “Crown Heights”

crown-heights-excerptDirector-writer Matt Ruskin, along with standout performances by Lakeith Stanfield and Nnamdi Asomugha, brings the the gripping and heartbreaking story of a wrongfully accused man in prison and the country’s fractured justice system into the spotlight.

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Jenny Slate Comedy “Landline” Connects in All the Right Places

landline-excerptThe endearing, yet scathingly funny family dramedy reunites the Obvious Child director Gillian Robespierre with star Jenny Slate for story about sisterhood and family dysfunction set to the backdrop of Discmans, dial-up modems, and bodysuits.

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Jack Black Brings Comedic Kitsch to a Tragic Story in “The Polka King”

polka-king-excerptOne would think that a film titled The Polka King would be celebratory and bouncy like the music and the Maya Forbes-directed biopic about Jan “King of Pennsylvania Polka” Lewan definitely has a lot of that. Even so, the true story of the rise and fall of Lewan is quite tragic, but Jack Black drapes it in so much charismatic Polka charm that you hardly even notice.

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Charming Comedy “Wilson” Gives Heart to a Horrible Jerk

wilson-excerptDirector Craig Johnson serves up some major inappropriateness through the vessel that is the great Woody Harrelson, but above all, the indie comedy manages to balance heart and horrible with comedic charm.

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Short Takes: “Roxanne Roxanne,” “Fun Mom Dinner,” & “Manifesto”

sundance-short-takes-2-excerptFrom pioneering rap artists to moms letting loose, this year’s Sundance is filled with projects starring, written, and/or directed by some of the industry’s up-and-coming female talent — but some of the films are more worth your time than others.

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“Wind River” Has Plenty of Snow-Capped Suspense and Taylor Sheridan-Brand Violence

wind-river-excerptGolden Globe-nominated writer Taylor Sheridan (and possibly Oscar-nominated by the time you read this) also sits in the director’s chair as he tells murder mystery set in a snowy Native American reservation in Wyoming. The writer’s signature intensity is ever present and feels too safe — which only leaves room for Sheridan’s directing chops to grow.

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“Mudbound” Paints a Poetic Portrait of the Struggles with Race and the American Dream

mudbound-excerptAlthough a major bullet point in the story, director Dee Rees thoughtfully, yet firmly controls the divisive nature of the story and avoids the same rhetoric of predictable racist tropes often seen in films of this ilk to tell a story about the American Dream that is as devastating as it is hopeful.

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Indie Rom-Com “The Big Sick” Delivers High Doses of Laughs

big-sick-excerptWritten by Kumail Nanjiani & Emily V. Gordon and directed by Michael Showalter, the indie rom-com has become the talk of Sundance — and with good reason. Based on the real-life relationship of Nanjiani and Gordon, the film is infected with laughs but at the same time, it will deliver a gut punch of intense emotions that will tear your soul apart — in a good way, of course.

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“The Little Hours” Celebrates Nuns and Debauchery in the 14th Century

little-hours-excerptWhen it comes to films about nuns, director/writer John Baena may have created the most entertaining one since Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. With The Little Hours, the Joshy director subverts what you would expect from a medieval time-based movie about nuns with characters by using modern vernacular and a whole lot of naughty, crass, and, of course, outrageously funny behavior.

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“An Inconvenient Sequel” Drops More Truth Bombs to Galvanize the Masses

an-inconveneient-sequel-excerptThe robust follow-up to 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth gives more facts and footage about climate change to make Liberals mobilize and Republicans roll their eyes and scoff the loudest scoff you could imagine.

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Split Review: Shyamalan’s Latest Psychological Thriller Barely Satisfies

split-excerptEver since The Sixth Sense audiences have been conditioned to do one of two things when it comes to watching an M. Night Shyamalan movie: 1.) sit at the edge of your seat with sweaty palms while waiting for an unexpected “OMG” twist or 2.) sit at the edge of your seat with sweaty palms while waiting for a colossal disappointment that you can complain about until he releases his next film. With Split, he allows you to do both.

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Live By Night Film Review: A Crime Thriller Mess That Should Have Been Left in the Dark

live-by-night-excerptBen Affleck’s latest directorial/starring venture, Live By Night is billed as a “crime thriller.” There is lots and lots of crime, but to call it a thriller is being extremely generous. Based on the best-selling book by Dennis Lehane (a presumed better option than watching this movie), the film is a series of tired plot points that meander, making this unfocused movie 2017’s first dump into the January cinematic wasteland.

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Patriots Day Film Review: Another Sensitive Hollywood Take on Tragedy

041816_PATRIOTSDAY_KB_419.CR2Peter Berg’s take on the Boston Marathon bombing is an amazing story of the human spirit, but you walk away feeling weird — and even a bit guilty — that it was even made at all considering the sensitivity of the real-life event.

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Fences Film Review: Come For the Film, Stay For the Outstanding Performances

fences-excerptWith its dense dialogue and impassioned emotion, the Denzel Washington-directed drama stays contained, giving the audience a beautifully painted story that comes in waves of joy and agony about a complicated black man and his devoted wife and fractured relationship with his son in 1950s Pittsburgh.

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Collateral Beauty Film Review: An Instructional on What Not to do in Times of Trauma

collateral-beauty-excerptThere’s are many things wrong with the David Frankel-directed drama Collateral Beauty, with the main issue being that someone thought that this would actually be a movie worth making. The convoluted drama is so pandering and sure of itself that it makes you cringe with anger.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Film Review: The Force Grows Strong in the Standalone Saga

rogue-one-excerptDisney’s experiment of standalone Star Wars movies has commenced and wastes no time by hitting light speed with its first solo pic Rogue One. Despite some clunky story problems and gratuitous fan service that could have been left out, the side saga is an entertaining film in the Lucasfilm canon that is worthy of all the hyperspace glory.

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Why Him? Film Review: A Half-Baked Holiday Comedy That Tries Way Too Hard

why-him-excerptWhy Him? is a supposed to be a fusion of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and Meet the Parents with a smattering of millennial flair. It sets itself up to meet the standards of the aforementioned comedies but obnoxiously fails with every passing minute of its overly long runtime.

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Hidden Figures Film Review: The Untold Story of Space & Race Adds Up to Cosmic Levels of Inspiration

hidden-figures-excerptHidden Figures is cut from the same cloth as Apollo 13 in terms of the iconic space race era but instead of focusing on the astronauts, it hones in on the brilliant minds responsible for one of NASA’s most historical launches. In this case, it was a trio of women — black women, at that. The film tells the historic untold story that reaches peak black girl magic long before the term “black girl magic” was coined.

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Office Christmas Party Film Review: An Excessive Holiday Romp That Fails to Sleigh

OCP-excerptWith its all-star cast and hilarious trailers, Office Christmas Party is supposed to be a fun, simple story about a party gone wild. Instead, it out to be a mess of plot points that weigh the movie down, making us ask, “Why did they have to include all of this crap?”

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Allied Film Review: An Overwhelmingly Average Tale of War, Espionage, & Romance

allied-excerptAdding elements of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, director Robert Zemeckis has packaged a stunning movie that has the glamorous and old fashioned sheen of classic Hollywood. Even though the art direction and costuming will make everyone swoon, the finely curated World War II “look” doesn’t make up for its overall dullness played out by two talented actors.

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Moana Film Review: A Music-filled Oceanic Adventure To Empower Us All

moana-excerptDisney’s latest continues their track record for subverting the “princess” template with an empowering tale of a young female leader who goes above and beyond their capabilities for the greater good of her family and community — and there isn’t a love interest in sight. But there is a Demi-God and two lovable animal sidekicks.

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