Category Archives: Film Reviews
After 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.
If 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.
Animated 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.
After 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.
The 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.
Director-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.
The 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.
One 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.
Director 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.
From 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.
Golden 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.
Although 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.
Written 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.
There is a specific “I knew about her before you did” pleasure Jessica Williams fans get when people discover just how funny she is — and with her starring role in The Incredible Jessica James, her funny will spread across the country like wildfire making her the comedic movie star she deserves to be.
When 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.
The 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.
Ever 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.
Ben 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.
Peter 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.
With 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.
There’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.
Disney’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.
Why 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.
Hidden 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.
With 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?”
Adding 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.
Disney’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.
Fantastic Beasts meets the magical expectations of the Harry Potter franchise, but delivers nothing more or less. Instead of focusing on creating one epic introduction, director David Yates and screenwriter J.K. Rowling thoughtfully build a strong foundation that will open the door to a bigger and better story in the forthcoming Fantastic films.
Kelly Fremon Craig’s directorial debut starring Hailee Steinfeld falls under the seldom populated (as of late) category of the “R-rated teen movie” — but a teen movie, nonetheless. Even so, apologies have to go out to the cheerleaders, jocks, and popular kids of high school because this one isn’t for you. This is an entertaining treat for the alienated geeks and weirdos of the school.
Everyone loves a comeback story and The Comedian has elements of that in its DNA but it doesn’t amount to anything worth grasping on to. Instead, it tells a very basic story with great actors doing what they do best amidst an uninteresting story about a stand-up comedian.