DOCTOR STRANGE Review – 11/3/2016
Uncategorized / November 3, 2016

Doctor Strange is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most unique and conceptually creative movie. Marvel has taken us through World War II and inside numerous science experiments; we have seen the far reaches of the galaxy and into worlds the size of an ant; plus we have explored the conflicts between fantasy realms and the struggles of a heroic civil war. After all of this, in our current landscape of remakes and rehashed ideas, it would be tough to think of a truly original direction that Marvel could take to expand your mind. Nevertheless Doctor Strange shows us the intriguing mystical side that adds a fresh and exciting layer to this ever growing universe. This movie takes the MCU to the next level with groundbreaking original effects, a dynamic score, and lots of fresh ideas. In this 14th MCU film, the rich and egotistical neuro-surgeon Dr Stephen Strange loses the use of his hands. He seeks out help from sorcerer’s who are masters of the mystic arts and he learns to become a sorcerer himself. A fanatic group arises whose goal threatens the multi-verse and the sorcerer’s work to stop them. The movie embraces both the origin story of Doctor Strange…

The Light Between Oceans Review – 8/31/16
Uncategorized / October 18, 2016

As 2016’s dismal summer movie season comes to a close, The Light Between Oceans truly is a light for audiences. Successfully adapting a book is always a challenge for film studios. Very few movies are said to do justice to the book. I have not read the book and cannot judge those qualities. Even though some people may find elements of this movie disagreeable or badly paced, this story is worth telling as it addresses simple concepts in a deeper light. The story takes place from the early to mid 1900s. Introverted World War I army veteran Tom takes up a position as the caretaker for a remote western Australian lighthouse. Soon he marries the local girl Isabel with desires to start a family. Following two tragically unsuccessful pregnancies, the rescue a baby girl (Lucy/Grace) from a rowboat that has gone adrift. The two personally adopt the child as their own as she grows out of infancy not knowing her real parents. When the girl’s real mother, Hannah, discovers that her daughter is still alive, all three “parents” must learn for themselves about life, death, family, honesty, and love. I’ll admit that I disagree with a lot of the plot…

SUICIDE SQUAD Review – 8/4/2016
Uncategorized / October 18, 2016

Suicide Squad is a movie that is clearly full of potential. Warner Bros, DC, and director David Ayer have a lot of ambition for this new entry in the DCEU focusing on a disjointed team of supervillains. Once again though, DC shows its incompetency at making a truly solid films while struggle to build a compelling universe (and this time it isn’t even Zack Snyder’s fault). Admittedly the movie has intriguing characters and a lot of fun moments, but is still filled with a mish-mashed plot, bad editing / directing, needless fan service, and an unbalanced tone. Following the loss of Superman in BvS, the questionable government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) executes her plan to use a group of bad people with special kills to go on a high stakes mission for the government. The titular team up consists of the voluptuous psychopath Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), expert marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), Australian thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), repentant pyrokinetic Diablo (Jay Hernandez), the mutated Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and the easily forgettable Slipknot (Adam Beach). This team is lead by special operative Rick Flag (Joel Kinneman) and his mercenary Katana (Karen Fukuhara). Overall the characters are enjoyable to…

NERVE Review
Uncategorized / October 18, 2016

Movies serve a range of purposes. Some movies are meant to merely entertain, others frighten, some want to pull on our emotions, and there are even those movies that strive educate audiences. The new young adult drama / thriller Nerve shines a dark light on the ever more influential world of social media. I fully expected this movie to be another B-list movie marketed for college students. Impressively, the movie feels original, is filled with colorful cinematography, and presents online secrecy and privacy in a frightening but realistic light. In the movie, teenagers and young adults voluntarily participate in increasingly more challenging tasks to win both money and fame from the hordes of other watching users. This is all controlled through mysterious social media. Although this “game” is not explained as fully as it should be, the danger and allure of Nerve is easily conveyed. Many times the audience is questioned about what social media is really for. Essentially, “are you a watcher, or a player?” Emma Roberts and Dave Franco are both entertaining to watch as they are frequently put into moral and social dilemmas. Roberts plays the shy and uncertain student Vee who continues to become more daring…

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR Review – 4/14/16
Uncategorized / October 18, 2016

‘Captain America: Civil War’ is without a doubt both Marvel’s best crafted movie and their most entertaining movie. After achieving the formidable title of highest grossing series of all time last year, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) continues to pave new ground for the ever expanding superhero genre. ‘Civil War’, which opens Phase 3 of Marvel’s universe, exceeds all expectations for fans. Unashamedly I am currently trying to decide if this movie actually dethrones ‘Inception’ to be my favorite movie ever. I could use a slew of flattering superlative to describing this, but this substantial movie is truly exciting, ambitious, serious, thrilling, and a fun ride from beginning to end. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo return from the critically acclaimed previous Captain America movie, ‘The Winter Soldier’, with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. I have adored the Russos’ work on my favorite television show, the comedy series ‘Community’, and fully trust their ability to deliver exactly what audiences are looking for most (and I’m not only referring to Chris Evan’s chiseled muscles). I could not be happier with their work here. Their ability to tell a serious and moving story in an enjoyable and cohesive way should be admired…

THE JUNGLE BOOK Review – 4/11/16
Uncategorized / October 18, 2016

In recent years, remakes of classic films have become more and more common. Some of these are triumphant revivals of a stalwart plot, while some that we wish to forget about are nothing more than an ill-conceived cash-grab from a tired studio. Jon Favreau‘s new family adventure ‘The Jungle Book‘ is the rare reiteration that improves upon Rudyard Kipling’s original telling of this well-known story and the 1967 Disney animated feature to stand on its own as a movie that everyone can love. Like the original tale, the young boy Mowgli (Neel Sethi), who has lived in the jungle almost his entire life and been raised by the fatherly panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) and the caring Wolf Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o), leaves from among the wolf pack after they are all threatened by the merciless Tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba). Mowgli’s journey to find his place in the world, he meets the alluring snake Kah (Scarlett Johansson), a group of elephants, the carefree bear Baloo (Bill Murray), and the mafia-boss orangutan King Louie (Christopher Walken). The plot is one that is both simple and relatable even in a very foreign environment. The movie transitions easiliy from being funny to serious, and…

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL Review – 3/29/16
Uncategorized / October 18, 2016

Mystery in film making has become practically an art form. From older films such as ‘Se7en’ and ‘Memento’ to new ones like ‘Gone Girl’ and ’10 Cloverfield Lane’, these movies are driven by an audience’s need to place meaning behind the sounds and images before them. It is an ambitious style that directors such as JJ Abrams, Christopher Nolan, and Bryan Singer have utilized masterfully. With Jeff Nichols’ recent mystery movie ‘Midnight Special’, one may question how far movie goers can follow a story with such minimal exposition, even with genuine quality from the performances, cinematography, and overall story. In ‘Midnight Special’, Michael Shannon (Man of Steel) plays Roy Tomlin, the father of a young boy Alton who has shown remarkable but misunderstood powers. With the help of Joel Edgerton’s (Warrior) ex-patrolman Lucas and Roy’s wife Sarah, played by Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man), they try to help this boy to perform a mission while government officials, including Adam Driver’s (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) NSA agent Paul Sevier, track them down. As a side note, one of the few things that I found funny in the movie was how, like in Star Wars VII, Adam Driver was once again working as…

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE Review – 3/22/16
Uncategorized / October 18, 2016

After the universal success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the comic book characters of DC are finally coming together on the big screen in the DC Expanded Universe (DCEU). Three years after the release of Superman’s latest iteration ‘Man of Steel’, director Zack Snyder returns to deliver what has the potential be the superhero fanboy’s (and fangirl’s) dream, ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’. In a year packed with superheroes, this is among the very most anticipated movies of 2016. Two of the most popular characters of all of fiction meet to settle their differences. Although the movie boasts in genuine characters, delightful universe building, and satisfying action sequences, it’s brought down by poor exposition, constantly serious tone, unnecessarily long scenes, and excruciating CGI. Regardless, this movie will be very influential for the future of the DCEU and superheroes in film. The new elements in Batman v Superman is what makes it the most praiseworthy. As the protaganist, Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne is as definitive to the classic character as can be hoped. He is about on par with Christian Bale’s version of the Dark Knight only because we haven’t seen as much of the Affleck’s portrayal overall. He is…

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE Review – 3/9/16
Uncategorized / October 18, 2016

With its ambiguous title, unexpected trailer, limited information from cast and crew, and no known connection to the original Cloverfield, the new mystery thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane was possibly the most secretive major production in recent memory. Producer JJ Abrams has been a master of mystery and secrecy famously used in such well-known projects as LOST, Super 8, and (recently) Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Fortunately, these unorthodox marketing methods have led to a movie that is made all the better by going into the theater fresh. I wouldn’t blame you if you have already made up your mind to see this movie and stopped reading this review right now. Though the story may feel incomplete, the pertinent plot, quality characters, and tangible tension all work cohesively to make a truly gripping and suspenseful yet satisfying thriller. The essential plot is fairly simple. A young woman, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) awakes in a strange dooms-day bunker. She is told by the creepy owner, Howard (John Goodman), that he rescued her and that a world-wide disaster has made the air deadly. She and an unwitting fellow occupant Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) work to understand their predicament and hopefully find freedom. The…

HAIL, CAESAR! Review – 2/2/16
Uncategorized / October 18, 2016

Filmmakers love to share a tribute to classic cinema. In recent films such as ‘Hugo’, ‘Trumbo’, and ‘The Artist’, we see a fresh view of old movie making. With their dramatic comedy ‘Hail, Caesar!’ the Coen brothers (Joel & Ethan) use their exuberant style to show homage to the golden days of Hollywood. Despite being confusing and unfulfilling at times, the film boasts smooth cinematography, delightful acting performances from the industry’s finest, and a wide reaching story that continuously entices the audience further into the developing mystery. Beyond all this, what shines the most from this prestigious romp is how it addresses such important topics as religion, communism, capitalism, industry, and entertainment. The marketing for the movie is such a poor indicator for understanding ‘Hail, Caesar!’ that I’m curious if those who prepared the trailers ever talked to someone involved in the film’s production. The movie revolves around Capitol Pictures 1950s studio head Eddie Mannix played by Josh Brolin (‘True Grit’) as he has to juggle his responsibilities of keeping his productions running, tracking down a kidnapped A-list actor, providing for his family as a father and husband, being a good Catholic, and keeping the media relations happy. Josh Brolin…

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