Monday, October 15, 2018

Bad Times at the El Royale - Review

The promise of a B-movie thriller, littered with talent across the board and an interesting setting is immense. Bad Times at the El Royale is all those things, with heaps of homages and tributes to films in a similar vein that have come before. This colorful affair has all the workings of a truly special film, if they actually come together in an effective manner.

Friday, October 12, 2018

First Man - Review

Space. The final frontier. At one point only a science fiction dream, traveling among the stars became a reality due to sheer force of will of a nation and a space program. Around the center of the crowning achievement of landing on the moon is Neil Armstrong, an enigmatic and determined man. First Man explores the journey to those first steps on the surface of the moon, steps that changed history.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Old Man & the Gun - Review

For a brief moment earlier this year, it seemed as though Robert Redford, the Hollywood icon, would be retiring after The Old Man & the Gun. Fast-forward just a few months, and the 82-year-old actor has backed off of this statement just as quickly has he gave it. There is a plethora of reasons that could’ve led to this backpedal, but his almost final performance as Forrest Tucker proves: everyone should be happy he’s sticking around at least a little while longer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Hate U Give - Review

True to life issues and hard-hitting reality have never been a stranger to the Hollywood treatment. Neither have Young Adult novel adaptations. So naturally a best seller that combines both was destined for the film treatment. The Hate U Give examines the ripple effects of a truly traumatic event has on relationships, one’s psyche, and the community itself. 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Venom - Review

Despite being the worst possible idea, Sony has gone through with their ill-fated plan of a Spider-Man-free universe. Venom is the first of many in development, with other villain led films in various stages if this one produces a profit. And even though quite a few higher quality films fill screens across the country, this trash fire will inevitably make money it doesn’t deserve.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A Star Is Born - Review

Making a successful remake is never easy. So naturally, making the third remake of a film even remotely good might as well be impossible. Yet, Bradley Cooper and crew emerge in 2018 with a modern twist on a classic Hollywood fairy tale, that if is to be believed, will be a huge win, both critically and financially.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Smallfoot - Review

In the animated side of cinema, the themes are fairly prevalent and not terribly subtle no matter who the studio behind it is. Debunking a creation myth and questioning beliefs are not usually the top choice either and yet, Smallfoot attempts to tackle this topic head on, and in some instances, a surprisingly clever fashion. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Assassination Nation - Review

The internet has become an entirely new beast over the last two years, and it's hard to imagine anyone would disagree. Endless shouting over various issues, takedowns of famous figures, and waves of hatred have invaded everyone’s life in some fashion. And that’s what makes the concept of Assassination Nation fascinating. A town torn apart by online scandal doesn’t seem that far-fetched in the year 2018.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A Simple Favor - Review

The modern definition of a noir doesn’t quite line up with the genre tropes of the past, pulling the dark, brooding protagonist into an equally dark, brooding world. But the noir films of old are not exclusively that, and often feature the comedic undertone that has somehow been lost along the way. With Paul Feig’s A Simple Favor, the wise-cracking comedy returns to a noir in fantastic fashion. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Predator - Review

Hollywood never lets a good thing die, and despite killing franchise and franchise, continues to attempt restarting every well-known character in existence. This time, it’s the dreadlocks sporting hunter from outer space, the Predator, back in the hands of a talented filmmaker. And yet the result winds up being the worst possible outcome.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Searching - Review

In a strange and completely unpredictable outcome, the found footage sub-genre has evolved beyond its shaky origins in the woods of Maryland during The Blair Witch Project. Exchanging shadowy figures in grainy video for a film set inside a computer screen doesn’t sound like an upgrade on paper, but Searching proves that this new gimmick is here to stay, and we might just get a few good films out of it. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Operation Finale - Review

World War II is a fascinating period in history, and Hollywood is determined to make sure the public never forgets that through various stories of war and survival. However, the time after the war, the fallout of the atrocities committed has remained relatively untouched. With Operation Finale, audiences are able to see the man responsible brought to justice in a mission that is almost as compelling as the conflict itself.

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Happytime Murders - Review

Presenting a largely family friendly element of entertainment such as puppets in the furthest thing from family friendly has an inherent humor to it in concept. However, The Happytime Murders ran out of clever ideas after the initial conception, leaving a mess that’s hardly worth the effort put into reviewing it. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Alpha - Review

We are slowly but surely reaching the cinematic dead zone between summer movie season and award season. With it comes the dumping ground for the leftovers that couldn’t be squeezed into January. While Alpha was never a potential January release it has jumped release dates four separate times, hardly a good sign for a film. However, the end result is not nearly as bad as the marketing would make it seem.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians - Review

*Insert something about Crazy Rich Asians being the first Hollywood film with a predominantly Asian-American cast since The Joy Luck Club 1993*

The primary talking point surrounding the newest romantic comedy has been around this point, and rightfully so, however, the aspects of this film that should be celebrated should not end at the cast. Crazy Rich Asians may be a simple love story complicated by family, the film truly shines as escapism in the lavish glow of Singapore.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Meg - Review

A strange fascination with sharks has almost become an obsession for humans recently, but it’s been that way for Hollywood since Jaws basically invented the summer blockbuster. Since then, filmmakers have been trying to capture even half of the greatness of the 1975 film, and while some get closer than others, most miss the mark. While The Meg doesn’t even sniff the upper echelon, it’s inherent stupidity could bring some enjoyment.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

BlacKkKlansman - Review

Portraying relevant material on screen has never been a struggle for Spike Lee, a director who consciously looks to tell captivating stories wrapped in biting commentary on society’s issues. With BlacKkKlansman, he may have outdone himself. Using the past to open our eyes to the present, Lee may have crafted his best film in years.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Spy Who Dumped Me - Review

The strain of forcing jokes can usually be felt throughout a comedy that doesn’t quite hit the mark. The Spy Who Dumped Me is one of those films that tries immensely hard to deliver laughs that just don’t come the way they should. Despite having a solid cast and a decent premise, almost every aspect falls flat. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Christopher Robin - Review

Disney and their live-action adaptations are here to stay it appears, though the word adaptation isn’t as exact for this round. Christopher Robin takes a different approach, opting for more moments of darkness than quirkiness in a tale that takes the theme of childhood never truly dying and gets lost with it amidst the trees of the Hundred Acre Wood. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Eighth Grade - Review

Adolescence is never easy. It never has been, but through Bo Burnham’s portrayal of the modern troubles of teenage life, it certainly seems as though it may be worse than ever. The same typical problems of braces, body odor, and popularity still linger, but the presence of the internet, and more importantly social media, takes the anxiety of those issues and amplifies them to new, and frightening, heights.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Blindspotting - Review

In the span of a month, audiences will be given two feature debuts concerning social commentaries in the city of Oakland that are really well received, in spite of featuring a plethora of ideas and themes. The first, Sorry to Bother You, takes a far more surreal approach, while the second, Blindspotting, gets to the root of society’s issues through a realistic lens as it juggles everything it wants to say.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Teen Titans GO! To the Movies - Review

As with any Hollywood trend, there reaches a point where there is enough material for the comedic spoofs and clever parodies to begin. For superhero films, that began in some part with Deadpool in 2016, a character known to be self-aware of his status as a fictional character. And yet, it feels like Teen Titans GO! To the Movies may actually be a more clever, referential look at the comic book movies than that, just with a few more fart jokes thrown in.   

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Mission: Impossible - Fallout - Review

The sixth installment in a franchise.  A place few blockbuster series reach with some semblance of respect still attached to the brand, let alone any good will. But Mission: Impossible isn’t like most franchises, as each subsequent release is better than the last (with the exception of Mission: Impossible II). And this mission may just be the best one yet.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Unfriended: Dark Web - Review

Oddly enough, 2014’s Unfriended, the supernatural horror where a ghost haunts a handful of horrible people through their computers, has managed to get a sequel. The ghoulish elements are dropped in favor of something far more real, if not a little unrealistic at times, the results of which possess a fair share of effective moments.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Equalizer 2 - Review

In a cinematic world of sequels and franchises, it’s no surprise that actors seek to get their name at the top of poster for their own action series. Doing so is not a frowned upon choice, a lot of iconic roles are born from somewhat mindless action films becoming more than the good first film. Most recently, Liam Neeson had a great career resurgence with the Taken films, springing him into other movies of the same caliber. Thus, it only makes sense that Denzel Washington would sign up for the first sequel of his long career with The Equalizer 2.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Sorry to Bother You - Review

Though the year is barely passed the halfway point, it’s relatively safe to declare Sorry to Bother You the weirdest cinematic experience of 2018. In a way, it seems apt for the absolute insanity of the real world to be mirrored in this insane movie, whether it be the visual craft behind it, the absurd humor, or the increasingly berserk nature of the entire premise, every ounce of this film is out there and remarkable. And to think, a first-time filmmaker is behind it all.

Skyscraper - Review

The word ridiculous may as well be forever associated with Dwayne Johnson and his chosen projects. Of course, this could mean a variety of good or bad things for the premise, the look, the action itself, or the whole idea in general. Skyscraper falls into the ridiculous in a bad way column as it frequently plays around in increasingly unbelievable and laughable scenarios that only get more unreasonable when you apply even a little logic, the true definition of shutting your brain off for a little under two hours.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The First Purge - Review

In 2013, when the first film in this horror franchise released, the concept of one night of legal crime to eliminate those the racist government officials deemed unworthy of support anymore was a decent premise for a film. In 2018, the idea isn’t as far-fetched anymore and thus the social commentary has become increasingly thick with each subsequent release. As reality becomes all the more terrifying from day to day, the space for this franchise and its silly and often ham-fisted delivery of allegory may be vanishing as well.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp - Review

There really isn’t anything that Marvel can’t spin into a franchise these days. Throughout all of their risky ventures, none seemed more out there than selling audiences on a hero named Ant-Man. And yet, here we are, just three years removed from the first with a sequel that adds another pint-sized hero in the Wasp, to the title and the film. With a clear vision from the start and no creative handoffs, Ant-Man and the Wasp looks to build off of the first film’s unlikely success and clear everyone’s mind after the devastation of Avengers: Infinity War. Luckily, it is successful on both fronts, by a wide margin.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Sicario: Day of the Soldado - Review

In 2015, Sicario delivered a tightly wound thriller with some remarkable craftsmanship and managed to garner enough attention to warrant a sequel. A sequel that quite a few were skeptical about from the beginning and losing talent like director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins didn’t do anything to qualm those fears. However, Sicario: Day of the Soldado seems to have turned out alright, though maybe not within the same realm of success.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - Review

At the time, the success of Jurassic World wasn’t anticipated, at least not to that extent. However, hindsight is 20/20, and the smashing numbers from the long awaited fourth installment make all the sense in the world. Take a charismatic lead actor, throw in some nostalgia for dinosaurs and a park that people want to see functioning, and then have everything go wrong is an equation that equates to a fun blockbuster in the truest sense of the word. Now, the sequel looks to capture that all again, but can it even get close or does it dawn a truly terrible turn for the franchise. The truth is, it’s somewhere in between.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Tag - Review

The concept of a group of grown men playing a game of tag for thirty years sounds like something out of a film. But sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and Tag just happens to turn that idea into a feature length film. Fortunately, they’ve assembled a solid cast to bring this story to life, even if the premise doesn’t seem to be enough to fill a full film. A fictionalized version of this unbelievable tale should be a fun time if nothing else, emphasis on should.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Superfly - Review

In a long list of remakes, a clear line of distinction can be made between those that worth it and those that obviously missed the mark. Arguably, more often than not a remake falls in the latter category, failing to capture any aspect of what made the original what it was. Superfly is already two steps behind, as translating themes from a 70s Blaxploitation film to the 21st century is nearly impossible, and yet they still tried.

Career criminal Youngblood Priest (Trevor Jackson) wants out of the Atlanta drug scene, but as he ramps up sales, one little slip up threatens to bring the whole operation down before he can make his exit.

It’s the same old tired ‘one last score’ plot thread that seems standard for any film involving criminals of some kind. But where some films can get clever with the concept, Superfly just comes off as tired and dull. And despite of having plenty of relevant social avenues to venture down, including even touching upon police brutality in one of the movie’s decent scenes, the film lacks any sense of realism. The film lives in a dream world of extravagance, swapping out the gritty streets of Harlem for the far sleeker setting of Atlanta is the first clue that the remake is going for something entirely separate from the original outside of the title. Rather than creating an aesthetic that is reminiscent of the 70s era Blaxploitation original, Superfly goes for imagery that’s ripped straight from a music video, an area Director X. is familiar with, for better or worse. 

The only real saving grace of the film, if you can even call it that, are the performances. The young actor Trevor Jackson does enough as Priest, hardly enough to leave a huge impression however. He carries the film decently enough, with a suave demeanor and certain flair about him, but being smooth certainly doesn’t make an interesting character alone. Jason Mitchell is expectedly great in his role as the somewhat capable if not a little less diligent partner of Priest. He is easily the high point of the film, though not the only good performance. With little screentime to work with, Michael K. Williams manages to bring a menacing presence during his limited role, making one wonder if his part should’ve been expanded in some way.

Unfortunately, the action follows the same style as the glossiness of the film itself. Everything is either over stylized or repetitive in the same way that, again, a music video may be. Director X. has removed any sensible reason for a remake like this to exist. Rather than pulling ideas and placing them through a modern filter, he leaves the ideas completely out, resulting in a film that’s all modern style with no substance. 

Overall, Superfly falls more in line with the pointless remakes that have come before rather than becoming anything worthwhile. A couple of good performances in support of a decent lead in Jackson are not enough to outweigh the numerous issues with the narrative, action or tone of the film. The film is likely be lost in the shuffle of the weekend anyway, but it doesn’t help that Superfly is anything but super.