craiger'scinemacorner©

Full-length reviews of contemporary and classic films by

one of Western Canada's leading online film critics

c r a i g   j.   k o b a n

 

 

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moviequoteoftheweek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"You see? You just can't trust anyone. The first girl I let into my life and she tries to eat me!"

 

JESSE EISENBERG

 

ZOMBIELAND

 

2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CrAiGeR's

pick of the week

 

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

(R) jjjj 

 "MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is one of the great visionary sagas of our time..."

 

 
 

 

 
 

CrAiGeR's movie blog:

[ ARCHIVES ]

 

The Most Cinematic Video Games of All-time

June 23, 2015

 

My Top 5 Favorite Video Games of All-Time!

September 19, 2014

 

James Gunn: The Guardian of Science Fiction's Future - Why his 'Guardian of the Galaxy' is the most surprising - and unlikely - hit of 2014.

August 15, 2014

 

LATEST POSTS:

CrAiGeR's Cinema Corner Turns 10 - And I'm getting by with a little help from my friends as we discuss our favorite films of the last ten years.

July 19, 2014

 

 
     
 

craiger'srecentreviews:

Total number of reviews in archive:

1380

 

 

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My last appearance:

August 20, 2015

WORST FILMS of the Summer 

 

My next appearance:

September 3, 2015

Fall Movie Season Preview

 

Previous appearances:

August 6, 2015

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION Review

 

July 23, 2015

ANT-MAN Review

 

July 9, 2015

TERMINATOR GENISYS Discussion

 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Midterm Movie Report Card

 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Writer That Recently Inspired My Work

 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Directors That Began Their Careers In Animation

 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Underrated Tom Hardy Films

 

Monday, April 27, 2015

2015 Summer Film Preview

 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Most Influential Summer Films of All-time

 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Underrated Will Ferrell Movies

 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kenneth Branagh film retrospective

 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Underrated Will Smith Performances

 

Friday, February 20, 2015

If I Picked the Oscar Winners 

 

Monday, February 2, 2015

My Most Anticipated Films of the First Half of 2015 

 

Monday, January 19, 2015

AMERICAN SNIPER and Clint Eastwood's most underrated films as a director 

 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

ANNIE, INTO THE WOODS, and movie musicals

 

Monday, December 22, 2014

The BEST films of 2014

 

Monday, December 8, 2014

The WORST films of 2014.

 

Monday, November 24, 2014

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 Discussion

 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

TBT: Top 3 Films of the 1960s

 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

TBT: Top 3 Films of the 1970s

 

Thursday, October 30, 2014 

TBT: Top 3 Films of the 1980's

 

Thursday, October 16, 2014 

TBT: Top 3 Films of the 1990's

 

Thursday, October 16, 2014 

GONE GIRL discussion

 

Wednesday, September 29, 2014 

Movies Based on TV Shows

 

Wednesday, September 15, 2014 

INDIE FILM TRIBUTE:

Richard Linklater's BOYHOOD

 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 

Fall Movie Preview

 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Robin Williams Tribute

(video unavailable...sorry)

 

Friday, August 8, 2014 

Guardians of the Galaxy discussion 

 

Monday, July 21, 2014 

San Diego Comic Con

 

Monday, July 7, 2014 

Reflecting on my site's 10th Anniversary 

 

Wednesday, June 23, 2014 

2014 Midterm Movie Report Card

(video unavailable)

 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 

Edge of Tomorrow Discussion

 

Friday, May 23, 2014 

Memorable Monster Films

 

Friday, May 9, 2014 

Amazing Spider-man 2 Discussion 

 

Friday, April 25, 2014 

Summer Film Season Preview 

 

Friday, April 11, 2014 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Discussion 

 

Friday, March 28, 2014 

DIVERGENT

 

Friday, March 14, 2014 

Great Graphic Novel Film Adaptations 

 

Friday, February 14, 2014 

Unconventional Romance/Date Films

 

Friday, January 31, 2014 

Great Frankenstein Films 

 

Friday, January 17, 2014 

BEST FILMS of 2013

 

Friday, January 3, 2014 

Biggest Movie News Stories of 2013 

 

Friday, December 20, 2013 

Tribute to director Al White / GEEKS 

 

 

CrAiGeR's SELF-IMPOSED RATING SCALE:

 

jjjj GREAT

jjj GOOD

jj FAIR

j POOR

zero stars CRAP

 

 

DR. FILMLOVE

CrAiGeR's intro. to his web site. 

 

 

FAQ's of CrAiGeR

Answers to all those nail biting questions

 

 

CrAiGeR's REVIEW ARCHIVES

All of CrAiGeR's full-length reviews of contemporary films since Jan 2004

 

 

CrAiGeR's FOUR STAR REVIEWS

Listing of every FOUR STAR review that CrAiGeR has ever written (excludes retro-reviews)

 

 

CrAiGeR's WORST REVIEWS

Listing of every one and a half star or lower review that CrAiGeR has ever written

 

 

CrAiGeR's RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW ARCHIVES

CrAiGeR revisits classic films from

the past

 

 

CrAiGeR's YEARLY BEST/WORST LISTS

CrAiGeR dishes out his TEN BEST and TEN WORST films for every year since 2000

 

 

CrAiGeR's SO BAD, THEY'RE GOOD!

CrAiGeR looks at 25 films that he knows are stinkers, but still finds that they are actually kind of good

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN MOST OVER-RATED FILMS OF ALL-TIME

CrAiGeR unleashes his list of ten films that he felt did not deserve universal fan accolades and critical praise.

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN MOST INFLUENTIAL FILMS OF THE LAST 25 YEARS 

CrAiGeR ruminates on ten films he feels most directly influenced the business and making of movies since 1986.

 

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 2000's

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1990's

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1980's

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1970's

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1960's

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1950's

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1940's

 

 

 

AMERICAN ULTRA (R) jj1/2  

An ultra ambitious, yet ultra hollow stoner-infused action comedy

AMERICAN ULTRA is a movie that’s simultaneously trying to be multiple movies.  Sometimes the divergent tones and genres presented here coalesce relatively well, but other times the film can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be a Jason Bourne-esque espionage flick, an  action adventure film, a B-grade grindhouse exploitation thriller, a love story, a stoner/slacker comedy of errors…or all of these very things...

Posted August 29, 2015

HITMAN: AGENT 47 (R) j  

Should have come with an "exit game" button

HITMAN: AGENT 47 is yet another entry on a woefully long list of pathetically awful video game to movie adaptations that’s not even really trying that hard to be good.  It’s a reboot, I guess, of the 2007 Timothy Olyphant starring adaptation of the stealth video game action series developed by Eidos Interactive and now published by Square Enix...

Posted August 29, 2015

STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON

(R) jjj1/2  

A straight up compelling musical biopic

I’ve never liked gangster rap.  My exposure to it during the course of my life has been limited, to be sure, but the genre always felt too assaultive for my tastes, not to mention that I find its content and message ethically questionable.  Exploring the world of this musical culture has very little personal interest to me, but part of the subtle genius of F. Gary Gray’s musical biopic...

Posted August 22, 2015

SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE

(PG) jjjj  

Little sheep...big city

When it comes to animation…I’ll take stop motion any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  The meticulously hand crafted nature of these films have something that even the ultra-high tech look and sheen of Pixar films lack: A truly immersive tactile quality.  Not to take away anything from the finest of computer animated films that have graced the silver screen for decades, but stop motion's rich multi-dimensional aura is something that even the finest computers can’t duplicate....

Posted August 22, 2015

MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (PG-13) jjj  

A Superficially gorging on retro 60's style...but joyously and engagingly so

Guy Ritchie’s MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. is proof positive that you can make a fully enjoyable and engaging spy thriller built strongly on the merits of stunning production design and, most importantly, the charisma and camaraderie of its main stars.  Based loosely on the NBC TV series of the same name that aired in the mid-1960’s (never viewed by me)...

Posted August 22, 2015

FANTASTIC FOUR (PG-13) j1/2  

A fantastically wasteful Marvel Comics adaptation 

There's no other way to slice it: FANTASTIC FOUR is one of the most utterly joyless, misguided, and wrongheaded comic book adaptations that I’ve ever seen.  It mournfully strips away all of the awe, wonder, whimsicality, and endearing weirdness of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s iconic super hero creation and instead turns it into something needlessly ponderous, dreary, humorless, and bereft of genuine thrills and excitement...

Posted August 15, 2015

INSIDE OUT (PG) jj1/2  

Looking at the emotional spectrum from the outside looking in

INSIDE OUT – Pixar’s 15th feature film – is a sumptuously and gorgeously animated, thematically ambitious, but ultimately problematic medication on a child’s perspective on emotions and growing up.  It’s from director Pete Doctor, whom previously made the masterful UP, which is highly fitting (that film focused on the nature of growing older, which makes it a nice counterpoint/companion piece to his newest effort)...

Posted August 15, 2015

CHILD 44 (PG) jj1/2  

A Cold War-era murder/mystery thriller that's lacking in sufficient thrills

 

CHILD 44 is a mystery-thriller set in 1950’s Cold War-era Russia that contains an endlessly intriguing premise that’s amplified by rock solid period production design and another bravura, scene stealing lead performance by Tom Hardy.  It does a captivating job of fully immersing viewers in the dreary paranoia-fuelled minutia of a mid-20th Century Soviet Union...

 

Posted August 15, 2015

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION (PG-13) jjjj 

An impossibly strong sequel

There’s a sly and wonderful moment in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION that fully evokes why Tom Cruise is the most commanding movie star in the world.  During the scene one of Ethan Hunt’s (Cruise) allies explains the details of his team’s upcoming mission.  It involves infiltrating a ridiculously secure server room that happens to be underwater...

Posted August 6, 2015

VACATION  (R) j 

A cinematic trip not worth taking

It’s very fitting that the new VACATION – the sort of sequel, sort of reboot of the National Lampoon VACATION series – has one sequence showcasing multiple characters covered in human excrement and another when one poor soul is dowsed with the blood, guts, and brain matter of an unintentionally murdered cow...

Posted August 6, 2015

PAPER TOWNS (PG-13 jj1/2 

An authentically performed, but illogically written coming-of-age drama

I had great difficulty deconstructing PAPER TOWNS.  It’s a coming of age high school drama from the director of the criminally underrated ROBOT & FRANK and the writers of THE SPECTACULAR NOW and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, two wonderfully sensitive portraits of young love.  PAPER TOWNS also has an exceptionally well-rounded cast that displays ample and credible chemistry throughout...

Posted August 6, 2015

SOUTHPAW (Rjjj1/2 

Punch drunk love

I've frequently lamented about how so many modern Hollywood films chew up and spit out the same tired and stale genre conventions on an endless basis.  Antoine Fuqua’s SOUTHPAW is a pugilist drama that definitely follows the boxing drama playbook through and through and does very little in the form of creative innovation with storytelling formulas...

Posted July 31, 2015

PIXELS (PG-13)

jj

Save your quarters

PIXELS is a film that’s joyously bathed in a wonderfully nostalgic haze for classic video games…at least during its opening sections.  It’s 1982, when coin operated arcade machines – and the businesses that harbored them – reined supreme.  Before the inevitable industry crash of the early 80’s, the arcades were the social hangout destination...

Posted July 31, 2015

ANT-MAN (PG-13)

jjj1/2 

What's this!? A Marvel super hero movie for ants?!

At face value, Ant-Man may be, dare I say it, the least sexy and most goofy of all of the Marvel comic book characters.  The whole concept behind this character is rather outlandish, to say the least: he’s a super hero that – via some advances in miraculous technology – can shrink himself down to the size of a penny and…can mentally control ants...

Posted July 23, 2015

TRAINWRECK (R) jjj

A Schumer-led comedic juggernaut

TRAINWRECK may be Judd Apatow’s fifth film as a director, but make mo mistake about it... this is Amy Schumer’s film through and through.  I knew very little about her before walking into TRAINWRECK, a new romcom the she both wrote and stars in (her feature film acting debut).  Schumer has been lauded in stand-up comedian circles for her nail-bitingly sarcastic and self-deprecating material, often directed at her own awkward and problematic social and sex life...

Posted July 23, 2015

SPY (R) jjj

A good day to spy hard

Spy comedies and lampooning the genre are hardly anything new.  At nearly two hours, SPY does have moments of inspired and spirited frivolity throughout, but it sometimes feels far too long for its own good.  Granted, writer/director Paul Feig (BRIDESMAIDS and THE HEAT) seems to have a keen sense of what spy film genre troupes to both adhere to and mock at the same time...

Posted July 16, 2015

THE LAZARUS EFFECT (PG-13) j1/2

Resurrecting lame horror film clichés

THE LAZARUS EFFECT is yet another one of those dime-a-dozen horror thrillers that suffers from a condition that I like to call "PWP Disorder," or a film that contains a premise without payoff.  The story here taps into ageless themes that have dominated films and literature for as far back as we can remember – the inherent perils of scientists/doctors playing God and attempting to bring people back from the dead...

Posted July 16, 2015

TERMINATOR GENISYS (PG-13)

jjj

Old, but not obsolete

Despite the fact that THE TERMINATOR series has been one of the more prevailing and popular film mythologies of the last three decades, the franchise fanboy in me was more than a bit reticent at the notion of yet another sequel.  James Cameron’s landmark 1984 sci-fi/action time travel mind bender gave way to the superior TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY...

Posted July 9, 2015

TED 2 (R) jjj

Thunderbuddies for life!

There’s a fairly inconsequential, but remarkably droll scene in TED 2 that had me laughing longer and harder than just about any scene from any movie that I’ve seen lately.  It occurs at the grocery store that the titular character works at as a cashier (once again voiced with a unrestrained gusto by Seth MacFarlane)...

Posted June 9, 2015

THE DUFF (PG-13) jjj

Designated Ugly Funny Friend

THE DUFF is a new high school romcom that does very little, if anything, new with the genre itself.  Reinventing the proverbial wheel does not seem to be part of its chief motive.  Yet, it’s what the film does with the wheel that modestly won me over, especially for the manner that it manages to both adhere to romcom conventions while slyly subverting them...

Posted July 9, 2015

THE LOFT (R) j

An erotic/murder mystery thriller with less-than lofty ambitions

THE LOFT commits multiple cinematic sins.  It’s an erotic mystery thriller that’s not sensual, nor particularly suspenseful or enthralling as a who-dunnit.  Worse yet, it seems positively unnecessary, seeing as director Erik Van Looy already made this film in 2008 in a Dutch-language version...

Posted July 9, 2015

JURASSIC WORLD (PG-13)

jj1/2

Hold on to your butts...again

There’s simply no overstating the seismic impact that Steven Spielberg’s original JURASSIC PARK from 1993 had on the film industry.  His dinosaurs run amok thriller – based on the novel by Michael Crichton – emerged as one of the great populist entertainments of its decade, but its then pioneering usage of untested CGI visual effects left an imprint on the whole movie world that still can be felt to this day...

Posted June 17, 2015

LIVE FROM NEW YORK! (R) jj1/2

This doc is not ready for prime time

I’ve had an odd on-again/off-again love affair with Saturday Night Live during the course of my life.  I think it peaked in the early 1990’s through the 2000’s and has kind of waned ever since.  Even if the show has failed to impress me on any meaningful levels during the last several years, there’s no denying the astounding legacy and enduring popularity of the show...

Posted June 17, 2015

ENTOURAGE (R) jj1/2

The monumental stresses of...monumental Hollywood success

I have no real idea how to review the ENTOURAGE movie.  For people like me – and many others – that followed the Doug Ellin created HBO TV series (which ran for 8 seasons between 2004 and 2011 and concerned a young man from Queens that relocated to Hollywood with his bros to make it big in the movies) the film will feel like welcome and inviting terrain...

Posted June 11, 2015

ALOHA (PG-13) j1/2

And "goodbye" to the greatest of Cameron Crowe's past work

The name Cameron Crowe once inspired confidence when seen on the credits of a movie poster.  This is the same writer/director that made such era defining classics like SAY ANYTHING in the 1980’s and JERRY MAGUIRE in the 1990’s.  Then came middling efforts from Crowe like 2001’s VANILLA SKY and even more problematic turns like 2006’s ELIZABETHTOWN and 2011’s WE BOUGHT A ZOO...

Posted June 11, 2015

SAN ANDREAS (PG-13)

jj

The fault in our stars

SAN ANDREAS is the kind of disaster film that AIRPLANE mocked with remarkable glee 35 years ago.  That’s not a ringing endorsement of SAN ANDREAS' quality.  Hollywood disaster films are hardly anything new, especially ones involving gigantic earthquakes swallowing up Californian whole...

Posted June 5, 2015

THE WEDDING RINGER (R) j1/2    

Best man for hire

When it comes to reviewing certain movies I tend to ask myself one question: On what normal plane of existence would the film’s premise exist?  I thought about this very query while watching the new nuptials/buddy comedy THE WEDDING RINGER.  It’s about a man that’s about to get married to the love of his life, but is so utterly bereft of friends that he finds it next to impossible to find a best man...

Posted June 5, 2015

TOMORROWLAND (PG-13) jj1/2  

Retro visual beauty overcompensates here for dull scripting

TOMORROWLAND is an absolute tour de force spectacle of bravura sights and sounds that’s in desperate search of a connective and meaningful narrative.  The film is the long gestating dream pet project of Brad Bird, the former Disney animation director that produced some of the finest animated films of the last few decades...

Posted May 28, 2015

THE BOY NEXT DOOR (R)  1/2j  

Worst...neighbor...EVER

Why does Hollywood routinely make so many wretched erotic thrillers these days?  The recent FIFTY SHADES OF GREY essentially numbed me into the self-loathing fetal position, and now comes THE BOY NEXT DOOR, yet another in an inexcusably long line of FATAL ATTRACTION-esque, fill-in-the-blank-from-hell thrillers.  In this fill-in-the-blank-from-hell case the film concerns a psychotic high school boy...

Posted May 28, 2015

GOOD KILL (R) jjj1/2 

A "just war" or just a war?

GOOD KILL is a decidedly different type of war film.  It’s not about the physical and emotional toll that soldiers go through on the ground in combat, nor is it about the hellish conditions on the battlefield.  No, this film deals with the nagging and deeply rooting psychological effects of waging a technological war from a distance...

Posted May 21, 2015

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD 

(R) jjjj 

Apocalypse WOW!

George Miller’s MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is the greatest possible MAD MAX film ever conceived and executed.  That’s high praise, considering that it comes off the heels of Miller’s original and iconic MAD MAX trilogy, the post-apocalyptic sci-fi/action series that both redefined the genre for decades to come...

Posted May 20, 2015

WHILE WE'RE YOUNG

(R) jjj1/2    

Gen X'ers that desperately want to be Millennials

I knew the precise moment when I realized that I was – the horror! – getting old.  Years ago I woke up to excruciating lower back pain that was radiating through my legs and up my spin.  I thought I was going to need hospitalization.  Turns out – after some x-rays – that I had developed arthritis.  I was in my late thirties at the time. There’s a similar scene that occupies Noah Baumbach’s newest dramedy WHILE WE’RE YOUNG...

Posted May 15, 2015

EX MACHINA (R) jjjj    

Diving into the problematic and dangerous rabbit hole of artificial intelligence

here have been many recent films that have tackled the weighty and contemplative themes of artificial intelligence to varying degree of success (like the so-so TRANSCENDENCE and CHAPPIE to the masterful HER), but Alex Garland’s EX MACHINA belongs, I think, in a whole other league of its own...

Posted May 15, 2015

50 SHADES OF GREY (R) zero stars      

No pun intended, but this erotic drama is a cinematic crapf--k

One of central ironies of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is that it’s a film ostensibly about a couple with an unhealthily kinky predilection to sadomasochistic sex that’s pure, unadulterated torture to sit through.  This is an erotic drama – based on E.L. James’ first book in her popular literary trilogy series that inexplicably began as TWILIGHT fan fiction before taking its current form...

Posted May 15, 2015

MAGGIE (R) jjj1/2     

Not the Au-nald vs zombies thriller I was expecting...and it's much better for it

When one hears the words “zombie thriller” and the name “Arnold Schwarzenegger” in the same breath, certain images come to mind.  It’s inescapable.  Part of the subtle genius, though, of Henry Hobson’s MAGGIE is how it so wonderfully and innovatively subverts not only our own expectations of the zombie genre...

Posted May 15, 2015

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

(PG-13) jj1/2  

Too many creative strings on this super hero sequel

There’s a wonderfully droll party scene part way through AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON that takes place at the lavish penthouse home of Tony Stark’s Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.).  Now, it’s pretty common knowledge that only a being “mighty” and “worthy” enough can pick up and wield Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) hammer "Mjolnir"…but the rest of his pals still don’t buy it...

Posted May 5, 2015

THE AGE OF ADALINE

(PG-13) jj1/2     

An eternal youth dramatic fantasy that could have used some scripting magic

The new romantic fantasy THE AGE OF ADALINE is one of the most strangely handled films with a sensational premise that I’ve ever seen.  It concerns a woman that – after a chance magical encounter – miraculously and permanently stays 28-years-old.  She is not immortal (she can be killed or hurt), but she doesn't age a day, nor can she perish due to natural causes.  In essence, she remains in her youthful twenties indefinitely...

Posted April 30, 2015

DANNY COLLINS (R) jjj1/2     

Churning out the oldies only carries one so far in life

DANNY COLLINS has a relatively dime-a-dozen premise that’s been done countless times before: aging rock star that has led a self-destructively hedonistic lifestyle for decades now seeks personal and emotional redemption.  There are few intentions by writer/director Dan Fogelman (making his feature film directorial debut after writing films such as CRAZY STUPID LOVE) to break much new dramatic ground here...

Posted April 30, 2015

PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2

(PG-13) j1/2     

Hop on your Segway and leave the screening of this film...as quickly as possible

Even the cold minded and harshly analytical critic in me respected and modestly admired 2009’s PAUL BLART: MALL COP.  Outside of being a dutiful slapstick action comedy that utilized Kevin James rather well, the film also managed to be a surprisingly well-orchestrated and sly send-up of the first DIE HARD film.  It was a real come-from-behind comedy...

Posted April 23, 2015

IT FOLLOWS (R) jjjj        

And boy...does it ever!!!

Within the first five minutes of the new $2 million supernatural horror film IT FOLLOWS I realized that I was in store for something decidedly more eerie and unnerving than the obligatory dead teenager/slasher flicks that have dominated cinemas for decades.  Director David Robert Mitchell’s film (his second after THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER) opens with relatively serene and dreamlike shots of a typical suburban landscape...

Posted April 16, 2015

FURIOUS 7 (PG-13) jjj        

Still finding new ways for cars to do insanely improbable things

There’s an action sequence midway through FURIOUS 7, the seventh (count ‘em...SEVENTH!?) film in the FAST AND FURIOUS series that highlights its go-for-broke penchant for action sequences that border on the sublimely ridiculous.  During it Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his squad parachute out of a cargo jet that's flying over Azerbaijan…while in their cars...

Posted April 8, 2015

GET HARD (R) jj1/2       

Finally!  A comedy about racial profiling and prison sodomy!

Considering that GET HARD was written and directed by Etan Cohen (one of TROPIC THUNDER's co-writers that had a field day lampooning movie star vanity and excess in that film), attempts at social satire in the film are sorely lacking. Instead, we get a race/class relations comedy that’s decidedly low on hilarious commentary and very, very high on nudity, bodily functions, and many jokes and gags about prison rape, racism, and homophobia...

Posted April 3, 2015

THE GUNMAN (R) jj1/2       

Sean Penn tackles a Liam Nesson-ian role

 

THE GUNMAN is a beyond obvious attempt for director Pierre Morel to return to the middle-aged action hero template that he popularized with the first TAKEN film.  This time, though, he has multi-Oscar winning actor Sean Penn at the helm, whom at a ripe age of 54 has never looked as ripped and chiseled as he does here.  There’s no doubt that Penn certainly looks the part of a rough and rugged action hero...

 

Posted April 3, 2015

THE DIVERGENT SERIES: 

INSURGENT (PG-13) j1/2

An incredibly dull divergence to the insurgency

I honestly can’t tell if the awkwardly titled THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT is a bad film or one that I just simply didn’t care about.  Perhaps it’s a little bit of both.   This new film – a sequel to 2014’s DIVERGENT, based on the first in a literary trilogy of novels by Veronica Roth – should have at least attempted to take the characters and premise from its antecedent in new and refreshing directions...

Posted March 29, 2015

CINDERELLA (PG) jjj       

SPOILER ALERT: The glass shoe fits the heroine at the end

Outside of perpetuating an established brand and box office returns, I can’t think of anything more redundant and wasteful than adapting animated films to live action.  CINDERELLA was already made into an iconic and magical 1951 animated Disney film that has long stood the test of time, so the thought of needlessly updating and/or retrofitting this fairy tale classic seems financially motivated at best...

Posted March 29, 2015

RUN ALL NIGHT (R) jjj       

A consummate Neeson-ian action thriller that rarely runs out of gas

RUN ALL NIGHT features another robust and dependably stalwart performance by Liam Neeson, the Irish star of such acclaimed dramatic films like SCHINDLER’S LIST and KINSEY that has ushered in a highly unlikely, but successful career rejuvenation as a middle-aged action hero.  The character he plays in RUN ALL NIGHT is, in many ways, an extension of the world-weary souls that he played to great effect in last year's terribly underrated A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES and NON-STOP...

Posted March 21, 2015

BLACK OR WHITE (PG-13) jjj1/2        

A challenging film about race relations that's anything but black or white

Mike Binder’s BLACK OR WHITE is an honest and uncommonly challenging film about race relations.  What could have emerged as a manipulative TV movie of the week about a child custody battle unexpectedly becomes a meticulously well acted and deeply perceptive portrait of what makes people who they are and what affects our perceptions of those we frequently deem as different from ourselves in society...

Posted March 21, 2015

CHAPPIE (R) jjj       

ROBOCOP + SHORT CIRCUIT + Blomkamp 

CHAPPIE is a new science fiction film that – like good examples of the genre - poses many fascinating philosophical questions about its premise (in its case, artificial robotic intelligence) and how it relates to the human condition.  It’s the third film from South Africa filmmaker Neill Blomkamp, whom previously made the game changing Oscar nominated DISTRICT 9 and the criminally underrated ELYSIUM...

Posted March 13, 2015

UNFINISHED BUSINESS (R) jj1/2       

Vaughn is up to his usual comedic business

To take a page out of the SWINGERS vernacular, Vince Vaughn has always been “money” to me.  He has that incomparable level of motormouthed bravado and lightning quick razor sharp wits that can save just about any subpar movie scene from imploding in on itself.  Vaughn has been in some of my favorite comedies, but after watching UNFINISHED BUSINESS even I’m left with the overwhelming sensation that he may need to try something new...

Posted March 13, 2015

THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (PG-13) jjj   

It certainly is the second best film in the two film series...for sure

THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is, without a shadow of a doubt, the second best film about an exotic Marigold Hotel that I’ve ever seen.  Obvious sarcasm aside, this might be one of the more unnecessary sequels to emerge in many a moon.  2011’s THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL was essentially comfort food as far as dramas go, but it sure was delectably charming comfort food...

Posted March 13, 2015

FOCUS (PG-13) jj1/2     

A well acted and good looking con artist flick that lacks narrative...focus

FOCUS is a new conman/caper film that revels in movie star glamour.  The lead actors – Will Smith and Margot Robbie – are endlessly likeable, attractive, and charismatic presences on screen, so part of the pleasure of the film is seeing these gorgeous performers look good, exude movie star glamour, and essentially carry the proceedings...

Posted March 8, 2015

 

 

 

 

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