REVIEW: Kingsman: The Golden Circle [2017]

“There’s no room for emotion in this scenario” When Kingsman: The Secret Service debuted, comparisons to creator Mark Millar‘s other comic book to cinematic adaptation Kick-Ass were obvious. How the latter spun the superhero template, the former spun stylish James Bond-type spy actioners. It was all high-concept insanity with a kid from the wrong side […]

REVIEW: Bushwick [2017]

“We’ll make it one block at a time” The circumstances are horrific, but Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott‘s Bushwick couldn’t have picked a timelier week to hit limited theatrical release. We’re just barely ten days out from the tragic death of a counter-protestor by a white supremacist and the viral footage of so-called “alt-right” militias […]

REVIEW: Dave Made a Maze [2017]

“It’s bigger than it looks” The premise is silly: stunted artist who’s never finished a project in his life finds inspiration through cardboard boxes and their ability to be molded into a literal labyrinth he’s already erected virtually inside his mind to ensure he will never fail (or succeed) since such a final verdict only […]

FANTASIA17 REVIEW: Junk Head [2017]

“And you call yourself God” After finding acclaim with stop-motion animated short Junk Head 1 in 2014, writer/director/animator Takahide Hori decided to expand its science fiction-infused world to feature length. The result is a two-hour adventure following one man’s descent through a subterranean infrastructure built by clones entitled simply Junk Head. It takes place centuries […]

REVIEW: The Dark Tower [2017]

“Turn and face me” It’s been twenty years since Wizard and Glass, the fourth published installment of Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower series—an epic fantasy backbone on which his entire bibliography rests. I finally made my way through it a couple years later, along with The Gunslinger, The Drawing of Three, and The Waste Lands […]

REVIEW: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets [2017]

“We can forgive, but we will never forget” Sci-fi fantasy Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is the most expensive European and independent (anywhere) production ever at approximately $200 million dollars—high enough that writer/director/producer Luc Besson pretty much leveraged his distribution shingle EuropaCorp before bringing STX on as a partner to defer costs […]

REVIEW: Atomic Blonde [2017]

“This is the game” It’s hard to believe that I was thinking the stylish, punishing action of John Wick was being dismantled upon as its stuntmen-turned-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch deciding to go solo two years ago. Stahelski would helm John Wick 2, the result proving a worthy follow-up both in aesthetic and mythology […]

REVIEW: Dunkirk [2017]

“He may never be himself again” War is often depicted as a quantifiable number of those who survived and those who did not. Many films choose this route, picking a battle to show the firefight’s chaos and cost. We remember the Battle of Gettysburg and D-Day as turning points, insane offensives that wrought heavy casualties […]

FANTASIA17 REVIEW: 악녀 [Ak-Nyeo] [The Villainess] [2017]

“You came alone?” Writer/director Byung-gil Jung sure knows how to open an action flick. Think Oldboy‘s hallway scene from the first-person perspective of Hardcore Henry spilling over through a non-descript doorway into a wide-open setting for a one-on-twenty bloodbath a la Kill Bill‘s House of Blue Leaves sequence. Only when the orchestrator of this carnage […]

REVIEW: War for the Planet of the Apes [2017]

“We are the beginning and the end” I’ve never seen the original Planet of the Apes films, but the little I know has always presented the titular apes as antagonists. You don’t cast Charlton Heston as your lead circa 1968 unless you want him to be the central figure with which to align. He’s a […]

FANTASIA17 REVIEW: Savage Dog [2017]

“The human is the hardest animal to kill” When a film opens with Scott Adkins rising from the mud with a scream in Indochina circa 1959, you begin cultivating expectations. You forgive the ham-fisted voiceover narration and the quick slow motion cuts disorienting place and time. You forgive the lack of context as to why […]