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Total number of print reviews in archive:

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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 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALLIED (Rjjj

A tale of wartime romance far removed from the front lines

Robert Zemeckis' World War II romance/espionage drama ALLIED is an attempt on his part, I think, to craft a loving homage to the aesthetic of old Hollywood utilizing, of course, modern day technology.  This is certainly not the Oscar winning filmmaker's first foray into WWII (he co-wrote 1941 decades ago for Steven Spielberg), but ALLIED marks his first time dealing with this historical terrain from behind the camera...

Posted December 2, 2016

RULES DON'T APPLY 

(PG-13jj1/2 

Beatty's return to acting and directing nets compellingly mixed results

When Warren Beatty stars in and directs a movie it's kind of a big deal...almost an event in itself.  This is made especially true considering that his creative output over the years has been anything but prolific.  RULES DON'T APPLY not only represents the Hollywood legend's first movie role since 2001's TOWN AND COUNTRY, but it's also his first film behind the camera in nearly two decades, his last effort being the 1998 political satire BULWORTH...

Posted December 2, 2016

BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK

(Rjj

Lee pushes filmmaking technological limits, but not storytelling ones

Ang Lee has nothing to prove as a filmmaker.  He's always been respected as one of the pre-eminent directors of the last quarter of a century, and the three time Oscar winner has demonstrated time and time again that he takes more inherent creative risks than arguably anyone else in Hollywood.  Just look at his rich resume for proof positive of that, which is replete with a startling diversity of genre work...

Posted November 26, 2016

THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN

(R)  jjj1/2  

And bordering on social oblivion

I've seen so many films like THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN over my many years as a film critic that the high school dramedy genre, for my tastes, has all but floundered into a critical life support stage of existence.  It's a small scale miracle, then, that Kelly Fremon Craig's film (making her directorial debut) imbues so much revitalizing freshness into these types of stale and conventional coming of age stories...

Posted November 26, 2016

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (PG-13jjj

We're definitely not in Hogwarts anymore

This movie is not for me.  When it comes to the HARRY POTTER literary and cinematic universes, I'm an introverted muggle (Potter slang for non wizard...or in my case...non-fan of the series).  It's true, I've been very critical of the decade-plus spanning movie franchise based on the iconic and cherished novels by J.K. Rowling, which ringed eight movies out of seven books, a move that had - in the latter stages - more to do with Hollywood accounting than it did with artistic imperatives...

Posted November 26, 2016

ARRIVAL (PG-13jjjj

A thinking man's sci-fi film of alien first contact

 

Science fiction movies about aliens arriving on our planet are as old as the genre itself, which means that any filmmaker trying to impart some level of ingenuity into them is a daunting task, to be sure.  French Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve - whose previous three films were all masterpieces in their own right, PRISONERS, ENEMY, and last year's SICARRIO - seems more than equal to the task in ARRIVAL...

 

Posted November 18, 2016

BLOOD FATHER (Rjjj

A grizzled Mad Mel up to his old vengeful tricks

No other actor is better at playing teeth clenched, nostrils flaring loose cannon roles better than Mel Gibson.  No one.  BLOOD FATHER - a rare starring vehicle for the actor, especially if you simply glance over his performance resume as of late - includes a quintessential "Mad Mel" character that only he can inhabit with a fiery gusto: a hard edged, deeply flawed and morally bankrupt goon with a heart of gold that, when the going gets tough, lets his fists do the talking...

Posted November 18, 2016

DOCTOR STRANGE 

(PG-13jjj

Strange things are afoot in the MCU

DOCTOR STRANGE is the 14th entry in the long standing Marvel Cinematic Universe, and although it does fall victim to - and readily embrace - the standard obligatory accoutrements of the super hero origin film, this latest comic book extravaganza from the studio doesn't seem to be demonstrating any obvious signs of genre or creative fatigue....

Posted November 12, 2016

HACKSAW RIDGE (Rjjj1/2  

A brave heart of WWII

We need to deal with a rather large and obvious elephant in the room before I review HACKSAW RIDGE.  Mel Gibson is a very controversial and polarizing figure in Hollywood with ample and indefensible indiscretion-skeletons in his closet, to be sure.  Yet, when a camera is put in this man's hands, there's no denying that proverbial magic does indeed happen.  He won an Academy Award for his direction on 1995's BRAVEHEART...

Posted November 12, 2016

INFERNO (PG-13j

Welcome to sequel hell

The title of this film is highly telling. INFERNO is a qualitative dumpster fire of incredulously epic proportions.  This is made all the more shameful considering that this third film in the cinematic exploits of the super humanly intuitive symbologist Robert Langdon - based on the literary source material by Dan Brown - has an Oscar winning director at the helm and a multiple Oscar winning actor in front of the camera....

Posted November 4, 2016

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES

(PG-13jjj

Spy Hard: Couples Version

I place very few expectations on comedies.  They simply have to (a) contain an appealing and engaging cast and (b) make me consistently laugh.  Humor is also a highly subjective thing, which makes the job of the film critic all the more tricky.  The new spy action-comedy KEEPING UP WITH THE JONES definitely doesn't reinvent the narrative wheel with its underlining premise, nor does it go for the satiric jugular in terms of attacking the spy movie genre itself and the monotony of middle-upper class suburban life...

Posted November 4, 2016

JACK REACHER: 

NEVER GO BACK (PG-13jj1/2

A sequel that's desperately reaching for significance

JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK - the follow-up to the introductory JACK REACHER film from 2012  - continues the cinematic exploits of the seemingly homeless and loner ex-military police office that hitchhikes around from town to town with only the shirt on his back and toothbrush in his pocket...and a nasty penchant for finding trouble and wrongdoing.  l...

Posted October 30, 2016

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (Rjj

A less than fantastic dissection of wilderness entrenched child rearing

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC is one those delectably quirky and offbeat dramas about an equally quirky and offbeat family unit that definitely takes great pains to make audience members identify with and understand said family unit.  The film was a critical and audience darling on festival circuits earlier this year (even garnering an unheard of ten minute standing ovation at Cannes)...

Posted October 30, 2016

THE ACCOUNTANT (Rjjj

Not your average number cruncher

At face value, the central premise of Gavin O'Connor's THE ACCOUNTANT is inordinately silly, not to mention that its main storyline strains credulity at multiple times and contains not one, but two would-be shocking plot twists that nearly derailed my overall enjoyment of it (more on that in a bit).  Yet, O'Connor brings his characteristic stalwart and precise direction to the material...

Posted October 21, 2016

THE INFILTRATOR (Rjjj

Cranston remains the danger

The irony that permeates THE INFILTRATOR is so thick you can cut it with a proverbial knife.  Its star, Bryan Cranston, made a name for himself as an actor on the small screen in his multi-award nominated and winning performance on BREAKING BAD.  He played a good man driven to become a criminal and ultimately an empowered drug kingpin that had to keep his clandestine life a secret from those he held dear...

Posted October 21, 2016

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (Rjj

Another Gone Girl

The new murder mystery/psychological thriller THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN - based on the best selling novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins - has been positioned and advertised as this year's GONE GIRL.  Both films share similar storylines about women that go missing, both are based on celebrated literary works, both have unreliable narrators, both deal with the seedier underbelly of suburbia, and both have been released in October of their respective years...

Posted October 15, 2016

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE

(Rjjj

Into the wild

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE is a New Zealand adventure dramedy that contains a central premise that has been literally done to death in countless coming-of-age/on-the-run films before.  We get the rebellious, troubled and unloved teenager that's paired with a cantankerous old coot that despises being in the presence of children, but despite their seemingly insurmountable odds with one another, they grow to like and appreciate each other's respective company and mature as a result...

Posted October 15, 2016

BATMAN: 

RETURN OF THE CAPED CRUSADERS

(No MPAA Ratingjjj1/2

Same 1960's era Batman, different Bat-channel

As a fan of all things Batman I have to admit that I never fully grew to appreciate and get the iconic and cherished 1960's era TV series until much later in life.  The peak of my Dark Knight fandom came during the mid to late 1980's, during which time the character was truly flourishing and returning to his roots as a dark and brooding nocturnal vigilante....

Posted October 15, 2016

DEEPWATER HORIZON 

(PG-13jjj1/2  

A stunning testament to blue collar survival

Director Peter Berg makes for an interesting case study.  When he brings his A-game (FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and the horribly underrated THE KINGDOM) there's no denying his skills as an authoritative and impactful filmmaker.  When he doesn't (BATTLESHIP) you're kind of left scratching your head while pondering why you even sat through his film...

Posted October 8, 2016

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

(PG-13jj1/2  

A peculiar fantasy premise with a conventional lack of payoff

Has the endearingly and idiosyncratically kooky and Gothic visual eccentricities of Tim Burton started to wane over the years?  There's a definitive argument to made in the affirmative category.  It's been an awfully long time since a film from the iconic director has truly struck a chord with me...

Posted October 8, 2016

MASTERMINDS (PG-13j1/2

A caper comedy that's wholeheartedly lacking in intelligence

Generally speaking, movies don't make me ill.  They would have to do something wholly repellent to make me sick to my stomach and want to jump out of my cinema chair and flee for the exit. MASTERMINDS contains a moment that elicited such a response...

Posted October 8, 2016

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

(PG-13jj1/2

A western remake of a remake that's more meh than magnificent

Criticizing THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN for being yet another in an awfully long line of unnecessary profit motivated remakes is kind of redundant, especially seeing as this new Antoine Fuqua helmed iteration is...a remake of a remake.  Of course, this new western takes inspiration from the iconic 1960 John Sturges' film of the same name, which was also a remake - and a rather sly one - of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 masterpiece SEVEN SAMURAI...

Posted September 30, 2016

BLAIR WITCH (Rjj

A remake in sequel's clothing

I'll never forget my screening of 1999's THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.  It was an ingenious film, especially for how it used a viral marketing campaign (unheard of for its time, but completely ubiquitous today) that went out of his fiendish way to make anticipated viewers believe that the events in the film were indeed real.  Daniel Myrick's and Eduardo Sanchez's found footage horror thriller was an underground sensation...

Posted September 30, 2016

SNOWDEN (Rjjjj

Stone still has a few wily cinematic tricks up his sleeve

In many ways, SNOWDEN feels like a cinematic marriage made in proverbial heaven for its director and subject matter.  Oliver Stone has made a career of tackling polarizing events and people from the past in works as far ranging as PLATOON, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, JFK, NIXON and W..  The very recent story of Edward Snowden – an former American Intelligence and contract worker for the U.S. government that leaked classified information from the National Security Agency to reporters from The Guardian in 2013...

Posted September 22, 2016

SULLY (PG-13jjj

One of the greatest forced water landings in aviation history

At a very ripe age of 86, the fact that director Clint Eastwood is still helming major studio efforts at a time in life when most other industry players have long called it a career is pretty staggering.  Having said that, it has also become abundantly clear that the masterful Eastwoodian films of old like UNFORGIVEN, MYSTIC RIVER, MILLION DOLLAR BABY and CHANGELING are long behind him, which is made all the more apparent over the last decade of forgettable and somewhat misguided efforts from him...

Posted September 15, 2016

FOR THE LOVE OF SPOCK

(No MPAA ratingjjj1/2

A most fascinating doc regarding one of pop culture's most iconic characters

I discovered the original STAR TREK TV series rather late in life during my final year of high school, during which time I began gorging on late night reruns of Gene Roddenbery’s iconic sci-fi series on the CBC.  I’ll always have fondness for the dashing courage and cocky bravado of William Shatner’s Captain Kirk, but Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock was – and always will be – my favorite TREK persona...

Posted September 15, 2016

ELSTREE 1976 (No MPAA ratingjj

The Force is not with this STAR WARS documentary

I found it both compelling and somewhat ironic that an interview subject in the new Kickstarter funded documentary ELSTREE 1976 stated that 25 per cent of the world’s population has seen the original 1977 STAR WARS at least once.  I can almost guarantee that nearly 100 per cent of people that sit through this documentary will probably learn next to nothing new about their favorite space fantasy that they didn’t already know...

Posted September 15, 2016

THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS

(PG-13jjj1/2

The place beyond the lighthouse

 

Derek Cianfrance’s THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS – adapted from the 2012 romantic period novel of the same name by M.L. Stedman – has been somewhat advertised with a Nicholas Sparksian sensibility, which is ultimately a huge disservice to the film’s narrative complexity and compelling thematic material.  At the very heart of this film lurks a few simple, by far reaching questions.  What constitutes real parenthood?  What constitutes kidnapping?

 

Posted September 10, 2016

HELL OR HIGH WATER (Rjjjj

A modern day western with a deeply melancholic pulse

David Mackenzie’s HELL OR HIGH WATER is superficially about rural Texan bank robbers.  It’s about so much more, though, in the manner it taps into the universally understood themes of the stinging pain of poverty, the fundamental lack of options to escape from it, and how good people make categorically bad decisions out of pure financial desperation...

Posted September 10, 2016

MORGAN (Rjj

A smart sci-fi setup with an ultra dumb payoff

The new sci-fi thriller MORGAN is one of the most frustrating films that I’ve sat through all year.  It was a frustrating experience in the sense that there’s definitive talent behind the camera here in Luke Scott (son of his very famous father Ridley, making his feature film directorial debut) and an overall premise that begins with solid promise, only to be completely undone by some truly insipid scripting in its late stages and a climax that frankly had me shaking my head...

Posted September 10, 2016

DON'T BREATHE (PG-13jjj 

Don't break into Stephen Lang's home

I’m not a fan of the slasher or torture porn horror genres at all.  Throwing mindless amounts of gore on screen is relatively easy.  Now, scaring audience members and eliciting in them sustained feelings of unease and dread…that’s a lot harder.  That’s why I appreciate the inherent challenge of what it takes to harness psychological horror thrillers more than other horror efforts...

Posted September 2, 2016

MECHANIC: RESURRECTION (PG-13j 

Can someone resurrect my 12 bucks back?

MECHANIC: RESURRECTION is one of the most utterly unnecessary and baffling sequels that I’ve ever laid eyes on.  It's so D.O.A. and on pure autopilot that you have to wonder if actual human beings were anywhere to be found behind the scenes during its production ...

Posted September 2, 2016

BEN HUR 

(PG-13jj1/2  

A remake of a remake of a remake of...

There have been almost too many film versions of BEN HUR to count on one hand, which helps erode the one criticism of this newest iteration helmed by WANTED and ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER director Timur Bekmambetov.  This new BEN HUR is, yes, a remake, but so too was the iconic and multiple Oscar winning 1959 Charlton Heston version...

Posted August 27, 2016

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS

(PGjjjj 

While my guitar gently weeps

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS is a new 3D stop motion animated film of startling beauty.  Produced by the Oregon-based animation house Laika (they preciously made PARANORMAN, THE BOXTROLLS and CORALINE) and featuring the directorial debut of Travis Knight, the film is not only a piece of exquisite and painstakingly multidimensional art come lovingly to life, but it’s also loving steeped in ancient Japanese culture and sweeping mythical motifs...

Posted August 27, 2016

WAR DOGS (Rjjj1/2    

Two young Lords of War

Todd Phillips’ WAR DOGS tells a story that would be exceedingly hard to believe if it weren’t based on fact.  Based on Guy Lawson’s Rolling Stone magazine expose ARMS AND THE DUDES, the film concerns two very young twentysomething entrepreneurs that dabbled in gun running and arms dealing with the U.S. government, and at the height of their insatiable greed and hubris (and perhaps stupidity) committed fraud on a massive scale while trying to score a multi-million dollar weapons contract with them...

Posted August 27, 2016

SAUSAGE PARTY (Rjjj 

Not your average grocery store get-together

SAUSAGE PARTY is the only film in the history of the medium that has a jar of honey mustard screaming “kiss my brownish yellow ass” as well as a scene involving a taco performing oral sex on a hot dog bun.  The fact that it’s an animated movie – and one that’s aggressively lewd and potty mouthed, pushing the boundaries of its R-rating and nearly tip-toeing into NC-17 territory – is also noteworthy...

Posted August 19, 2016

PETE'S DRAGON (PGjjjj 

A not-so-imaginary, invisible friend

 

PETE’S DRAGON is a wondrous and triumphant reminder of the inherent escapist power of family entertainment when harnessed well.  Considering that this past summer film season has been an unending one of consistent disappointments, it’s refreshing and rewarding to experience a film so gentle, sweet, quietly rendered, and, yes, exhilaratingly magical to its very core...

 

Posted August 19, 2016

SUICIDE SQUAD  

(PG-13jjj 

The not quite Dirty Dozen

SUICIDE SQUAD – the third film in the DC Extended Universe – is refreshingly unlike most other super hero films out there in the sense that it’s a team-up effort involving villains saving the day instead of the more noble minded and pure blood fighters of truth, justice, and the American way...

Posted August 11, 2016

TICKLED (Rjjjj 

A documentary that's most definitely not all shits and giggles

 

TICKLED is a new documentary that starts off weirdly and whimsically and then later journeys down into an endlessly perverted, twisted, and disturbing rabbit hole that reveals the deplorable influence that people with power and money have over those with none.  Funded on Kickstarter in 2014 and inspired by the investigative endeavors of New Zealand journalist David Farrier – co-directing the film with his partner Dylan Reeve – TICKLED is an expose about an unrelentingly strange, yet hypnotically fascinating world of – ahem! – Competitive Endurance Tickling...    

 

Posted August 11, 2016

JASON BOURNE (PG-13jj1/2 

The Bourne Redundancy

I approached JASON BOURNE - the fifth film in the spy espionage thriller series, ever-so-loosely based on the literary series by Robert Ludlum – with many conflicting emotions.  The thought of a cinematic dynamic duo re-teaming of star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass (whom helmed the two best entries in the Bourne “Damon” trilogy...

Posted August 6, 2016

NERVE (PG-13jj1/2 

Truth or Dare Go!

Considering the widespread and borderline fanatical popularity of the new augmented reality mobile game Pokemon Go, NERVE could not be released at a more topical and relevant time.  It’s a new techno-survival thriller that involves its main characters insatiably partaking in a new mobile game that not only seems to typify our modern world’s smart phone obsession, but also the darker underbelly of addictive social media subcultures...

Posted August 6,  2016

BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE 

(Rjj1/2 

A somewhat wrongheaded adaptation that's no laughing matter

I normally don’t partake in reviewing direct-to-video animated films, but I made a special case for BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, the 26th DC Comics cinematic feature based on pre-existing comic book work.  Of course, this film was inspired by arguably one of the seminal Batman stories of the 1980’s – if not of all time – in Alan Moore’s and Brian Bolland’s iconic “mature readers only” 1988 graphic novel...

Posted August 6, 2016

THE LOBSTER (Rjjj1/2  

Trying to find love in all the wrong places

THE LOBSTER is like a weird and intoxicatingly macabre cocktail of the stylistic eccentricities of a Wes Anderson and the morbid cautionary tales of dystopia from George Orwell.  It’s from 43-year-old Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, making his English language debut here, and the film received raves when it premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, ultimately winning the Jury Prize...

Posted August 6, 2016

 

 

 

STAR TREK BEYOND

 (PG-13)

jj 

 

THE NEON DEMON

(Rjjj 

 

GHOSTBUSTERS

 (PG-13)

jj1/2 

 

RAIDERS! THE STORY OF THE GREATEST FAN FILM EVER MADE

(No MPAA Ratingjjj1/2 

 

SWISS ARMY MAN

  (Rjj1/2 

 

MIKE AND DAVE 

NEED WEDDING DATES

(R1/2j

 

 

THE LEGEND OF TARZAN

 (PG-13)

jj 

 

THE BFG

 (PG)

jj1/2 

 

THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR

(Rjjj 

 

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

 

(PG-131/2j  

 

THE SHALLOWS

(PG-13jj1/2 

 

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE - ULTIMATE EDITION

(Rjjj1/2   

 

FREE STATE OF JONES

(Rjj1/2

 

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

(PG-13jjj  

 

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL 

(PG-13)

jjjj  

 

NOW YOU SEE ME 2

(PG-13j1/2  

 

WARCRAFT 

 (PG-13)

jjj  

 

POPSTAR: 

NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING

(Rjjj1/2   

 

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

OUT OF THE SHADOWS

 (PG-13j   

 

ME BEFORE YOU

(PG-13jj1/2  

 

JANE GOT A GUN

(Rjjj     

 

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE

 (PG-13

jj1/2 

 

RISEN

(PG-13jjj 

 

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

 (PG-13jjj 

 

THE NICE GUYS

(Rjjj1/2

 

NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING

(Rjj1/2   

 

SING STREET

(PG-13jjjj 

 

DIRTY GRANDPA

(R zero stars

 

GREEN ROOM

(Rjjjj