Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

December 23, 2015 by  

“Star Wars” has become less a film franchise and more a cultural phenomenon in the past decade, and a new film–the first not to be helmed by George Lucas–seems almost moot when it comes to critiquing its merits as a film. We know what to expect at this point. Episodes IV, V, and VI all told the story of the Rebellion versus the Galactic Empire. Small fry versus big guy. David vs. Goliath. It was a story we all could relate to; we all wanted to be like Han Solo, but were probably... Keep Reading...

Krampus

December 7, 2015 by  

The opening sequence of the holiday comedy/horror film “Krampus” should tell you exactly where writer/director Michael Dougherty (“Trick R Treat”) is coming from and what kind of story he is going to tell with this darkly comic romp. It opens with “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” sung by Bing Crosby, set to scenes of impatient shoppers ravaging malls and knocking people over to get the last hot toy or gift on the shelves. The contrast is obvious... Keep Reading...

Creed

December 1, 2015 by  

“Creed” is technically the seventh “Rocky” film, and it’s probably the best since the original “Rocky” in 1976. While “Rocky Balboa” was a great apology for “Rocky V”, “Creed” is a fresh start that begins a new legacy and starts to say good-bye to an old one. The film opens up with Creed as a young boy, known as Adonis “Donnie” Johnson, who seems to be a magnet for fighting at the juvenile correctional facility... Keep Reading...

Crimson Peak

October 20, 2015 by  

Period piece horror films are very hard to pull off. First you have to pull off the period piece. Everyone has to look like they come from that period, and they have to sound like they do. The mannerisms, the demeanor, all have to line up. Then, it has to have horror elements, atmosphere, and mood. If you can pull these off simultaneously, it’s quite an achievement. As hard as Guillermo Del Toro works to execute this, the film falls short. I did believe the period, and I did believe the atmosphere.... Keep Reading...

The Martian

October 13, 2015 by  

If we ever had an astronaut on Mars, I’d want it to be Mark Watney. Actually, nevermind that. I’d want it to be Matt Damon. Like in many “lone survivor” films, an appealing lead is vital. And here, Matt Damon absolutely owns the film and makes a somewhat agreeable film into a piece of outstanding entertainment. Fleshing out the attractive cast is the always faithful Jeff Daniels, Chiwitel Ejiofor, Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Sean Bean, and…Kristen Wiig. The story, based... Keep Reading...

Everest

September 28, 2015 by  

Growing up, I had a fascination with Mount Everest. I still have a National Geographic issue that focused on the mountain. I had fantasies of one day ascending and climbing to the summit. Then, I read “Into Thin Air”, Jon Krakauer’s account of what’s now known as the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, and it’s  not really on my to-do list anymore. Not only because of what happens to the climbers, but Krakauer did such a fine job of putting you on that mountain with them that... Keep Reading...

Dark Places

August 12, 2015 by  

“Dark Places” is the second adaptation of a Gillian Flynn novel. The first, of course, was the acclaimed “Gone Girl”, which was adapted by Flynn herself. Here, her work is written for the screen and directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, who has mostly done French language films (except for 2009’s “Walled In”). The two films could not be farther apart in terms of quality of narrative execution, and adaptation itself. Where “Gone Girl” successfully... Keep Reading...

Terminator: Genisys

July 8, 2015 by  

“A straight line. You keep moving forward and never look back.” That’s a line frequently used in the 5th film of the “Terminator” franchise–a franchise that probably didn’t need more than 2 movies (the first two, which were the best). But, here we are, far removed from the era of Cameron’s masterpieces. The ironic thing about that line, though, is that “Terminator: Genisys” hardly moves in a straight line. It’s about as all over the... Keep Reading...

Jurassic World

June 18, 2015 by  

In 1993 we were treated to one of the most spectacular action adventure stories ever put to screen in “Jurassic Park”. While the plots involving the human characters were a bit thin, and Spielberg’s trademark “family” storylines were a bit skewed, it seemed OK to forgive all that due to the absolutely astonishing dinosaurs he and Stan Winston & Co. brought to life. The film was based on Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel of the same name, although there were some... Keep Reading...

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

May 14, 2015 by  

The Marvel Universe is getting more and more crowded, and in some cases, cloudier and cloudier. I haven’t followed all of them, and some of them I’ve forgotten–but I plod along and try to keep up. 2012’s “The Avengers” seemed to be the best of the Universe, pitting fine actors in fine getups against interesting and entertaining villains for a 2 and a half hour long joyride. I thought Joss Whedon was the perfect guy to bring all of that together, and he’s... Keep Reading...

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