Reviews

Review: “Jupiter Ascending”

Once upon a time it was possible to at least excuse the cinematic overkill of the Wachowski siblings as a willingness to take chances in pursuit of high-concept storytelling, and the desire to push the special effects envelope. Their...

Review: “Black Sea”

When you think about it, the ocean depths are an even more terrifying environment than the void of space. In the far reaches of the cosmos one can at least see the stars; underwater, there's only pitch-black darkness waiting to crush...

Review: “Blackhat”

Let's face it: Hollywood has yet to make an effective cyber-thriller. The black art of hacking works great on the page, but actually getting it onto the screen in a compelling way has so far proven to be elusive....

Review: “A Most Violent Year”

"A Most Violent Year" is a movie with a somewhat misleading title. Despite one that implies action or, at the very least, some graphic content, the film rarely depicts onscreen violence, nor does it show anything particularly sexy or...

Review: “Into the Woods”

There's a certain joy that washes over me when I watch a good musical. Movies and music are wonderful mediums for artistic expression, as each find their own truths and meaning in their own distinct, separate ways, but combining...

Review: “Big Eyes”

Its been a while since Tim Burton has offered up a movie that wasn't drenched in weirdness-as-affectation, smothered in heavy-handed effects, beaten into delirium with gratuitous Johnny Depp, or all of the above. With "Big Eyes," however, he seems...

Review: “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”

The good news is that Peter Jackson's final installment of his unnecessarily long adaptation of The Hobbit shows improvement over its predecessors. The downside is that it's an a degree of improvement akin to the Star Wars prequels: better,...

Review: “Exodus: Gods and Kings”

Visually sumptuous but otherwise hollow, Ridley Scott's take on the Biblical tale of Moses could use a little more wrath of God to perk it up a bit. It's not a bad movie per se, it's just that it...

Review: “Inherent Vice”

"Inherent Vice" is the first movie based on a novel by Thomas Pynchon. Whether or not there will be another any time soon is anyone's guess. Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation (approved by Pynchon himself) is a rambling and largely...

Review: “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1”

Wait what? So you scrolled to the bottom of this film review to check the score to see what gush or venom that you're going to imbibe by reading, and there was nothing? Could it be that bad? Surely...

Review: “Dumb and Dumber To”

Imagine for a moment that 2003's disastrous "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" never happened and that 1994's hilarious "Dumb and Dumber" was left untainted as a comedy classic. Having laid dormant for 20 years, would a resurrection...

Review: “Rosewater”

A strong debut film by The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, there's still some room for improvement in the earnest and entirely nonthreatening "Rosewater". Some first-time filmmakers opt for going full-bore with their freshman work, laying on the style and...

Review: “Interstellar”

Christopher Nolan is a filmmaker's filmmaker, a creatively restless soul who challenges both himself to push the boundaries of his skills and his chosen medium, as well as to challenge the notions of viewers who show up for his...

Review: “Big Hero 6”

When Disney acquired Marvel in 2009, one's imagination couldn't help but go wild. What stories in the existing Marvel Universe could be told with the talented Disney affiliated minds behind them? The possibilities were endless, which makes it that...

Review: “Nightcrawler”

A messy but intriguing and enjoyably warped slice of modern film noir as only Los Angeles can flavor it, Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler isn't quite the searing indictment of the "if it bleeds, it leads" TV news ethos, but it...

Review: “Birdman”

A bizarre hybrid of a midlife crisis comedy and a backstage drama, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Birdman" or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is the kind of philosophical and challenging film the director is known surprisingly pitched with a playfulness that...

Review: “Ouija”

At the risk of sounding condescending, I have a tendency to mock those that believe in silly things. When I was younger, I was the one who would move the Ouija board slider to mess with my more gullible...

Review: “John Wick”

How many revenge films have we seen where an ordinary man with a loving wife and beautiful children goes on a killing spree to avenge the deaths of that family at the hands of some evil men? Too many...

Review: “Fury”

While it borrows liberally from Saving Private Ryan (aka the All Quiet On the Western Front of modern war movies) and doesn't exactly rise above its obvious formula, David Ayer's Fury is nevertheless an effective WWII drama that reminds...

Review: “The Judge”

With all the recent hoopla surrounding "The Avengers" and the "Iron Man" franchise, it might be easy to forget that Robert Downey Jr. is a damn fine actor even when outside of that iconic suit. Even when his films...

Review: “Gone Girl”

Love is a many-splintered thing in "Gone Girl," a gleefully snarky satire disguised as a thriller directed by David Fincher and adapted by Gillian Flynn from her own best-selling novel. It's likely to do for prenuptial agreements what "The Bucket...

Review: “The Maze Runner”

It's tempting to dismiss director Wes Ball's adaptation of James Dashner's young adult novel as a Hunger Games knock-off, but to do so would be unfair. A breath of fresh air into what is rapidly becoming a crowded sub-genre, The Maze Runner is a slickly plot-driven flick that...

Review: “Sin City: A Dame To Kill For”

It's been nearly a decade since Robert Rodriguez's stylish adaptation of Frank Miller's Sin City comic book series shook up the megaplexes with a darkly humorous brand of pseudo-noir. Unfortunately, the long-awaited sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill doesn't prove...

Review: “The Expendables 3”

As with a number of third installments, the law of diminishing returns kicks in with The Expendables III - big time. The franchise has always centered on the novelty value of having the aging action stars of the '80s...

Review: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

I don't remember a world when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn't exist. I had just turned one year old when the original cartoon debuted in 1987 and it was, to my recollection, the first thing outside of friends...

Review: “Into the Storm”

Too often, a fundamental flaw pervades "natural disaster" movies: the focus tends to be on the destruction and chaos rather than the characters. Recent years have shown the physical and emotional devastation such events can cause to neighborhoods and...

Review: “Guardians of the Galaxy”

One of the most pleasant surprises of a mixed-bag movie summer, Guardians of the Galaxy is something akin to Star Wars on Quaaludes. It's a tongue firmly in cheek throwback to cheesy '80s-era B-grade sci-fi movies that is equal...

Review: “Lucy”

It's almost impossible to sit through Lucy without pondering what could have been. A ham-fisted fusion of high-concept science fiction and lowbrow action from writer-director Luc Besson, it fails in both categories. It does succeed at being a very,...

Review: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

Say what you want about their production values, particularly the cheesy, rubbery make-up the actors were forced to wear in the older films, but the "Planet of the Apes" series, at least thematically, is one of the best and...

Review: “Deliver Us From Evil”

A poor man's The Exorcist grafted to a by-the-numbers police procedural, Scott Derrickson's Deliver Us from Evil gets more mileage from its hybrid premise than one would expect, by it quickly goes adrift in before coming to rest with...

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