Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Beauty and the Beast Is an Almost Flawless Beauty!

Belle (Emma Watson) in Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, a live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic directed by Bill Condon.

Disney’s latest attempt at translating one of its classic animated films to live-action is a beauty, if a bit flawed.

For the live-action take, the script was tweaked to allow Belle to be even more independent (and less of a Stockholm Syndrome sufferer) and a late tweak include a couple of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gay moments. Neither of these tweaks is a flaw.

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Table 19: Lovable Losers Escape Wedding Humiliation!

TABLE 19 – (Clockwise from left) Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, June Squibb, Stephen Merchant, Tony Revolori, Anna Kendrick – Photo by Jace Downs/Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Table 19 is a lighter-than-air confection about a girl who was broken up with via text and went from being her oldest friend’s maid of honor to one of the people at table 19 – the people invited through a sense of obligation but not actually expected to attend.

Eloise McGarry (Anna Kendrick) was to be Francie’s (Rya Meyers) maid of honor until Francie’s brother, Teddy (Wyatt Russell), broke up with her via text. As a result, she is stuck at the ‘random’ table with others who should have RSVP’d NO – but not before sending a gift from the wedding registry.

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I hate this silly and juvenile idea people have that somehow giving something an R Rating will automatically make a movie better, or the only reason a film sucked was because it was PG or PG-13 instead of R. This has been one of the ongoing complaints from fans of Wolverine for years. Logan is the R-Rated Wolverine film fans have been begging for is finally upon us. But is it any good?

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Get Out – Meeting the Parents Is No Fun At All!!

DANIEL KALUUYA as Chris Washington in Universal Pictures’ “Get Out,” a speculative thriller from Blumhouse (producers of “The Visit,” “Insidious” series and “The Gift”) and the mind of Jordan Peele. When a young African-American man visits his white girlfriend’s family estate, he becomes ensnared in a more sinister real reason for the invitation.

Jordan Peele’s first effort as a writer/director fairly simmers with rage – not at the clichéd southern-fried racist rednecks of most horror movies that have discrimination at their root, but at white liberals who have all the right friends and say all the right things (or what they think are the right things).

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The Great Wall: Great Movie? No! Great Fun? Yes!

Global superstar MATT DAMON is William Garin in Legendary’s “The Great Wall.” Directed by Zhang Yimou (“Hero,” “House of Flying Daggers”) Universal Pictures.

Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall is the first Chinese big budget movie that is targeted at a global audience. It has a number of Chinese stars and one major American star and tells a story that brings East and West cultures together in an uncomfortable co-operation against a foe that, should it feed enough, could put the entire world at risk.

With The Great Wall Zhang Yimou has become, in essence, the Chinese Cecil B. DeMille. He’s constructed an epic adventure with a cast of thousands. If the plot and dialogue aren’t always brilliant, the scale of the story and the action definitely make up for that – and it looks amazing!

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Fist Fight Is Three O’Clock High With Potty-Mouthed Teachers!

(L-r) ICE CUBE as Ron Strickland and CHARLIE DAY as Andy Campbell in the New Line Cinema and Village Roadshow Pictures comedy “FIST FIGHT,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Almost thirty years ago, there was a sleeper comedy hit called, Three O’Clock High, in which a nerd named Jerry Mitchell got himself in hot water with the school’s behemoth of a bully and found himself challenged to a fight after school. It was pretty good.

Fist Fight is essentially the same film only with potty-mouthed teachers and played for R-rated comedy. It’s not quite as good, but after an extensive set-up, it builds into an explosive, hilarious Big Finish.

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I Am Jane Doe: Sexual Slavery of Children? In America?

I Am Jane Doe is the documentary that follows the efforts of the parents of survivors of child sex trafficking in America to take down the men who facilitated that trafficking via the website Backpage.com by hiding behind a law meant to help the internet grow.

In and of itself, I Am Jane Doe is a horrifying film because it points out, rightly, that child sex trafficking is a huge business in America. It’s the story of the efforts of the parents of three survivors of the trade to find justice – and the way that the men responsible for their ordeals could hide behind a section of the innocuous sounding Communications Decency Act.

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The LEGO Batman Movie – Lacking Something/Everything!

LEGO® minifigure Batman (voiced by WILL ARNETT) “The LEGO® Batman Movie,” from Warner Bros. Pictures and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment. A Warner Bros. Pictures release. BATMAN and all related characters and elements TM & (c) DC Comics Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

The LEGO Movie was original, inventive, witty and stylish. Batman was used as punctuation – injected a bit of pompous self-congratulation while saving a few lives.

The LEGO Batman Movie takes those few moments and puffs them up into a 104-minute excursion into the EGO part of The LEGO Batman. By the time he decides that he can’t do it all alone, the film’s relentless barrage of witless gags, unsubtle digs and brilliantly animated but repetitive sight gags have pretty much put its audience over the age of 5, to sleep (I heard no laughter during the screening I attended).

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John Wick: Chapter 2 Masters the Art of the Action Sequel

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) suits up for action in John Wick: Chapter 2

John Wick: Chapter 2 continues the adventures of the title character (Keanu Reeves), a master assassin who wants to leave his past behind and live a normal, quiet life (with his dog). When an old contact calls in a livelong favor, the rules of the guild stipulate that Wick go back into action for this final job. Wick reluctantly accepts after a bit of coercion, hopeful that closing this contract may allow him to find some peace. It does not. Continue reading John Wick: Chapter 2 Masters the Art of the Action Sequel

John Wick Chapter 2 – Now This Is How You Make an Action Movie!

John Wick Chapter 2 — John Wick (Keanu Reeves) Photo by Niko Tavernise/Summit Entertainment/eOne

The first John Wick film was one of the rare action flicks to actually warrant the title film. It was mad crazy in terms of action and remarkably thorough at sketching out the world in which the characters lived and worked.

John Wick Chapter 2 expands that world in fun, messy ways and is even more propulsive than the first. I would say that it’s the rare sequel that is even better (if only marginally) than the original – it deepens every aspect of its world and character.

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