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Archive for the 'Movie Reviews' Category

Jordan Peele’s ‘Nope’ Delivers Out of This World IMAX Spectacle (Movie Review)

Nope, the third film from writer/director Jordan Peele, features the best use of IMAX cameras since Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. Yes, Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick ain’t no slouch in terms of aerial wonder on the most enormous screens possible, but Peele’s latest, which stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Steven Yeun, offers something else. Something… out of this world. Are such close encounters merely a new take on an old sci-fi trope? At the very least, the promise of Peele’s brand of sharp humor with a terrific ensemble will intrigue fans and possibly put butts in seats. So don’t look up or do. For what is seen, as they say, cannot be unseen.

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‘Elvis’ Delivers A Little Less Conversation, A Lot More Action (Movie Review)

The King is back. Elvis, the sixth feature from the heavy-on-the-spectacle director Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby), is bursting at the seams with all the pageantry and showmanship expected from the Aussie filmmaker. Starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Presley’s shady manager, Colonel Tom Parker, and Austin Butler (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood) in a star-making performance as Mr. Presley himself, Warner Bros.’ big screen stunner might just be the out-of-body experience fans of Elvis have been clamoring for since his tragic death in 1977. For major fans, it’s time to get all shook up and head to your local theater. For those not into Elvis or just not that familiar with one of the pioneers of rock and or roll, suspicious minds may still be interested.

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‘Jurassic World Dominion’ Is A Prehistoric Blockbuster (Movie Review)

Jurassic World Dominion finally hits IMAX and normal-sized screens after production woes that included multiple shutdowns due to COVID. Like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, this Colin Trevorrow-directed flick is marketed as an “epic conclusion” to the iconic series that changed VFX forever in 1993 with Spielberg’s top-notch direction. The hook for the third World pic is twofold: the dinos are finally (no, really, they are this time!) off the island, and a trio of original cast members have returned. True, Jeff Goldblum showed up for a couple odd judiciary scenes in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, but now he, along with Laura Dern and Sam Neill, are key players in Dominion. Jurassic World actors Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and a host of others are back too. A trailer that featured a pair of DNA spliced velociraptors chasing motorcycle riding Pratt in Europe was intriguing. Universal hopes the nostalgia factor and audience’s seemingly endless love for dinosaurs will be more than enough to make this movie another smash hit at the box office. But is the film any good – or at the very least fun?

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Tom Cruise Pulls Off The Impossible For ‘Top Gun’ Sequel (Movie Review)

Tom Cruise is still the “Top Gun” in the sequel to the era-defining 80’s hit. Thirty-six years after the original, Top Gun: Maverick combines a heavy dose of nostalgia with state-of-the-art aerial stunts featuring “The Last Movie Star.” The danger zone is as big as an IMAX screen now. Director Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion) re-teams with Cruise with a script aided by Mission Impossible maestro Christopher McQuarrie. The film also stars Jennifer Connery, Miles Teller, Jon Hamm, Monica Barabaro, Glen Powell, and the Iceman himself, Val Kilmer. However, did this long-in-the-works sequel take my breath away?

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‘Downton Abbey: A New Era’ Is Perfectly Respectable (Movie Review)

Focus Features’ Downton Abbey: A New Era is the second full-length feature of PBS’ beloved series of the same name. Creator Julian Fellowes’ 21st century take about a fictional early 20th-century family, the Crawleys (and the people who serve them) has legions of fans. Each episode featured period-appropriate attire and just the right amount of stiff-upper-lip Anglofied mannerisms. All of it is (mostly) set at the lush estate, Downton Abbey. Plenty of the cast has returned: Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Laura Carmichael, Imelda Staunton, and more. Three years after the last film and seven years since the last episode aired, do we still have time for Lady Mary’s attitude, butler Thom’s shenanigans, and Duchess Violet’s wit? Clearly, we’ll always have time for Dame Maggie Smith’s one-liners. Either way, Old Hollywood (well, “new” back then) has arrived at Downton’s doorsteps…

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Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch Battle In A Multiverse of Madness (Movie Review)

This weekend the summer movie season begins with Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Although expectations are high, with some outlets predicting the 28th entry in the MCU to rake in the dough, becoming a cultural juggernaut like 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home is doubtful, even for the Sorcerer Supreme. The top-notch cast includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, and new to Marvel, Xochitl Gomez. However, the big news is that this film marks director Sam Rami’s return to superhero antics since his Spider-Man trilogy from the aughts. Did the Drag Me To Hell maestro concoct a new kind of experience for the MCU? Can he top his web-slinging masterpiece, Spider-Man 2?

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‘The Northman’ Is Brutal, Basic Mythology (Movie Review)

Robert Eggers’ The Northman is the third major release from the artisanal director. He has been granted his biggest budget yet with a different studio, Focus Features, footing the bill. His previous features, The Witch and The Lighthouse, were A24 productions. The premise: a young prince’s father is killed by his uncle, and he vows revenge. This might seem like a Viking take on The Bard’s Hamlet, but Shakespeare’s play starring the most indecisive hero ever was inspired, in fact, by this Scandinavian legend. Thankfully, in terms of decision making, that leads to much violence, as Amleth (rhymes with Hamlet) isn’t on the fence when it comes to dismemberment. Alexander Skarsgård stars as the broody axe-wielding prince alongside a supporting cast including Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Defoe, Ethan Hawke, Nicole Kidman, and everyone’s favorite Icelandic pop star: Björk. How does an authentically shot Norse tale fare in an era where Chris Hemsworth’s hammer-wielding superhero is the closest most audiences get to a Viking? It’s certainly not as funny as a Thor/Hulk team-up, but it’s way bloodier, so that’s something…

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‘Ambulance’ Is Bay’s Best In Years (Movie Review)

Looking past his Netflix venture, 6 Underground, Ambulance marks director Michael Bay’s first true return to the big screen since 2017’s Transformers: The Last Knight. No longer partnered up with Optimus Prime, this action-thriller is a remake of a Danish film that clocked in around 90 minutes. True to form, Bay’s version is over two hours to make room for some much-needed Bayhem. Set in Los Angeles concerning two bank robbers and an unlikely paramedic, the film features high octane thrills, real-life stunts, and impressive camerawork with Bay’s latest gizmo: drones. Does the native Angeleno’s return to the City of Angels mean more of the same, or does the hands-on blockbuster auteur have new tricks up his explosive, kinetically-edited sleeves? Did I mention he has drones now?

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‘Morbius,’ The Living Vampire, Sucks (Movie Review)

Three years after filming began, two years after the first trailer, Sony’s latest “In Association with Marvel” feature, Morbius, finally opens this weekend. Based on one of Spidey’s legendary Sinister Six, Dr. Michael Morbius is a “living vampire” (much like star Jared Leto), which might make you think of the Blade trilogy. Is this how the MCU gets the Day Walker? No, since this is exclusively Sony’s property, but as it’s been nearly two decades since the last Wesley Snipes outing, there’s an inherent curiosity for how our current era will handle the balance between bloodsuckers and superheroes. The cast also includes Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Tyrese Gibson, and another Jared… Harris. Was Morbius worth the wait? Grab a pack of blue-colored artificial blood and drink up! Continue reading ‘‘Morbius,’ The Living Vampire, Sucks (Movie Review)’

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A Trip to ‘The Lost City’ is Overlong but Still Fun (Movie Review)

Paramount Pictures’ The Lost City hopes to be the kind of adventure/rom-com that would easily score at the box office during the 2000s. Times may have changed (even without a pandemic), but movie stars should still be able to open a Romancing the Stone-type film for the modern era, right? The Sandra Bullock vehicle was even originally pitched with her co-star from The Proposal, Ryan Reynolds, in mind. Mr. Deadpool certainly would have had a different kind of character than the hunky but not exactly witty one Channing Tatum plays, but the truth is it wouldn’t matter either way. Bullock has always had great chemistry with pretty much anyone: Clooney in Gravity, Kidman in Practical Magic, and the cat from The Heat, to name a few. Plus, a scene-stealing Brad Pitt and a heel turn from Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe are fun bonuses. The action might be less than what Disney showcased in last year’s Jungle Cruise, but the laughs are certainly better. The Lost City hopes to discover an audience more interested in jokes than explosions anyways, although there are plenty of big booms too.

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‘Deep Water’ Offers Shallow Thrills (Movie Review)

During the 80s and 90s, erotic thrillers were a sound investment for any major studio. Films like 9 1/2 Weeks, Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, and Indecent Proposal were events. All but one of those films was directed by Adrian Lyne. Hard-R, adult-skewing movies were an active part of the cultural conversation. In the past two decades, Lyne has only directed one other film, 2002’s Unfaithful, starring Diane Lane. Lyne’s particular brand of highly charged sensual kicks could be considered a relic of a bygone era if they weren’t so well made and, frankly, memorable. Still, in an age overwhelmed by audience-friendly superhero flicks, could a simple story about a jealous husband and his promiscuous spouse top the box office like the movies that made household names out of Glenn Close, Sharon Stone, and Demi Moore? We’ll never know… okay, so actually we do, and the answer is no. Lyne’s latest will be debuting this weekend exclusively on Hulu. Deep Water pairs Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas: two stars ready to raise their body heat.

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‘The Batman’ Begins… Again! (Movie Review)

With The Batman, Robert Pattinson is the seventh actor to play the Caped Crusader, thereby eclipsing the number of James Bonds to hit the silver screen. Both made their live-action debuts in the 60s. Of course, there are way more Bonds films (26 official) than Batman (13), yet each new iteration has been an event. Director Matt Reeves (Dawn of and War for the Planet of the Apes) had been eying Batman: Year One for years, and while this 2022 feature is technically the Bat’s second year as Gotham’s vengeance-driven vigilante, that’s certainly close enough. Thankfully, that means we get to skip the overly used death of billionaire Bruce Wayne’s parents. If you’ve seen the trailer, you might have noticed that the dream of the 90s/early 00s is alive and well in Gotham City. To be fair, the character has always been kinda moody, so an emo Bruce Wayne isn’t the stretch one might have assumed. Think more My Chemical Romance’s Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge era, less Tobey Maguire’s dancing fool a la Spider-Man 3. So, let’s apply guyliner and tussle our carefully curated locks. After all, we have a city to save, Mr. Wayne! Continue reading ‘‘The Batman’ Begins… Again! (Movie Review)’

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The Batman: The BEST Batman Movie EVER! (Movie Review)

The Batman Movie ReviewThe Batman movie review title above says it all.  If you choose not to read any further, then all you need to know is this.  Matt Reeves did the unthinkable for me.  He made a Batman movie better than Christopher Nolan and despite my adoration for Reeves I wasn’t expecting to be rocked to my core like this.  I was like a kid in a candy store the whole 176-minute runtime.  To say I liked The Batman is like saying guinea pigs are fond of Timothy hay.  We both LOVE it!  The Batman was everything I ever wanted in a Batman movie…the complete trifecta…DARK, BROODING and above all else…ADULT.  There were no cartoony or kiddie moments that would make this 47-year-old fan/critic flinch in disgust.  This movie felt like it was made for me and in the vein of the legendary Batman comics…he lives up to his moniker of the “The World’s Greatest Detective.”  Let’s start with all the basics below and work our way through why you need to see this one ASAP. Continue reading ‘The Batman: The BEST Batman Movie EVER! (Movie Review)’

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Sony’s ‘Uncharted’ Film Lacks PlayStation’s Fun (Movie Review)

Sony Pictures’ Uncharted looks to be Spider-Man star Tom Holland’s next box office hit this weekend. Based on the beloved PlayStation series by developer Naughty Dog and directed by Venom’s Ruben Fleischer, this mid-budgeted adventure flick leans more towards pleasing fans of Holland (and, to a lesser degree, co-star Mark Walhberg) than fans of the videogame. Arguably, this is a smart move for a new franchise looking to appeal to anyone, although, in the end, the quality of the thing is still the thing. In other words, is this modern day adventure debut any fun?

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Old School Star Power Elevates ‘Marry Me’ (Movie Review)

Just in time for our second pandemic Valentine’s Day, Universal Pictures is releasing a love letter for fans of Jenifer Lopez and, to a lesser degree, Owen Wilson. Marry Me, a high concept “will they won’t they” rom-com, debuts in theaters as well as exclusively on Peacock during this time of romance. Over twenty years ago, the same studio delivered a massive hit with Julia Roberts playing a movie star who smiled like Julia Roberts and fell in love with an affable Hugh Grant playing an “ordinary” version of the English charmer in Notting Hill. Will a 2022 offering with J. Lo starring as a pop star who marries a down-to-earth stranger played by Wilson have audiences saying ‘I do’? I’d bet for most, the answer is probably more a “maybe,” but for diehard fans of Hustlers’ leading lady, this lightweight rom-com is an easy “yes!”

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Hercule Poirot Investigates Stylish ‘Death On The Nile’ (Movie Review)

Five years later, Kenneth Branagh dons the ‘stache once again as Inspector Hercule Poirot. Following the 2017 hit, Murder on the Orient Express, Branagh’s Poirot is back for the Egyptian-set sequel, aptly named Death on the Nile. The third filmed adaption of Agatha Christie’s bestselling 1937 novel features a large cast, including Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot, along with Branagh, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening, Letitia Wright, and more. Murder on the Orient Express took in an impressive $352 million globally. Hopes are high that this non-comic book studio release entices audiences ready to figure out whodunit. Set (mostly) on a luxury steamer ship, Branagh shot the film in 70mm as he did with Express. Will fancy costumes, wide compositions, and a strong ensemble be enough for another go at an old-fashioned murder mystery?

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Sundance Film Festival 2022 – Four Encapsulated Doc Reviews

It’s January…Sundance time!  The Sundance Film Festival 2022 is currently underway virtually and thus once again more than just the lucky few get the chance to get a gander at possible cinematic wonders in store.  Sadly, a large portion of the fictitious features either have a name attached (Karen “Nebula” Gillan is not exactly an unknown!) or have distribution and are going to hit the TV screen soon after.  (You can catch Fresh on Hulu in March…for free!)  So to lesson the distinctive Hollywood vibe of Sundance I decided to strictly hit the documentaries for a change and was certainly glad I did.  (Though truth be told I saw a LOT of HBO Documentary headers going in!)  From personal tales of abuse both at work and home to tales of powerful men falling and strong women rising, check out my four Sundance Film Festival 2022 Encapsulated Movie Reviews documentary-style below! Continue reading ‘Sundance Film Festival 2022 – Four Encapsulated Doc Reviews’

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The 5th ‘Scream’ is Fiendishly Brutal (Movie Review)

Over a decade since the fourth installment became the late Wes Craven’s final film, Scream returns to the sleepy albeit bloody town of Woodsboro. New directors and writers are ready to take a stab at the ultimate metaseries that changed the game for scary movies in 1996. Legacy actors Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette have returned alongside newcomers Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, and Jack Quaid. Twenty-five years after Sidney Prescott defeated not one but two Ghostface killers, can she still make with the stabby stabby? In 2022, will Ghostface have their own TikTok? Is #GutYouLikeAPig taken? One of the biggest horror franchises of all time has lasted three generations: from the slacker days of the nineties to the entitled millennials of the aughts. Now, the time has come time for zoomers to answer the call…

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