REVIEW: Onward [2020]

Be Like Dad. It’s Ian Lightfoot’s (Tom Holland) sixteenth birthday and he’s hoping to make it count. He’s not about to go on a rager with friends, though. He’s way too introverted for that. Ian therefore merely seeks to conquer a few baby steps towards mild extroversion by putting on his late father’s college sweatshirt to boost confidence and check off some boxes on a list he wrote to change himself into the man he wishes he might become. That means standing up for himself when others treat him like…

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REVIEW: The Kid [2019]

You gotta learn to trust inna fella. With so many different iterations of the same exact story flooding the cinematic market every year via reboots and sequels, it’s nice when someone decides to look at a common narrative through a new lens. This is what director Vincent D’Onofrio and screenwriter Andrew Lanham hope to accomplish with The Kid—a glimpse at the oft-mythologized game played by former friends turned enemies Billy the Kid (Dane DeHaan) and Pat Garrett (Ethan Hawke) from the eyes of a fourteen year old boy (Jake Shur‘s…

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REVIEW: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part [2019]

Listen to the music. A film like The LEGO Movie is a once-in-a-decade type achievement (so to see its filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller also write/produce another once-in-a-decade feat with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse only shows how inventive and original the two are). It daring to use its subject matter’s tactility and utility rather than pretend its nothing more than aesthetic was an ingenious choice, the surprise lifting of the curtain to reveal a human element behind the characters’ machinations the stuff of legend. So the inevitable demand for…

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REVIEW: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom [2018]

They’re alive. Like me. Anyone who read/watched Jurassic Park in the 1990s should have known the product of John Hammond’s hubris: a marriage between mankind’s extinction and evolution into something more. This is what the themes of control and the lack thereof portend. To play God is to risk losing everything we have built in the past 300,000 years. Because whether we bring back that which nature destroyed (dinosaurs) or create something wholly new (through genetic manipulation and cloning), we breathe life into a being not meant for the present…

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REVIEW: Avengers: Infinity War [2018]

“He’s never fought me twice” It’s been ten years since we met Tony Stark on the big screen. Ten years of serial storytelling with massive budgets, character crossovers, television offshoots, and Stan Lee cameos that took Hollywood and the box office by storm. Not even steward Kevin Feige could have predicted that type of longevity with twenty films by 2018’s completion, but here he and we are at the culmination of all those carefully laid plans. It’s been an enjoyable journey with origin tales, rights swapping, tonal shifts, and more…

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REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 [2017]

“It’s not ripe” The world of Guardians of the Galaxy proved a necessary shot of comic and action adrenaline for the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2014. It gave a breather from the Tony Stark crew, allowed the voice of an outsider in James Gunn to permeate the Hollywood machine, and introduced a level of sky’s-the-limit promise and potential as far as aliens, planets, and scope (Thanos isn’t Earth’s random enemy, we’re just standing in his way of much bigger goals beyond our comprehension). Its success came via its characters,…

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REVIEW: Passengers [2016]

“Excellent choice” **Spoilers included** You’re traveling on a spaceship towards a distant planet in hopes of restarting your life anew with endless possibilities. The journey takes 120 years, your body in stasis to arrive the same age that you left. Let’s say something happens around the thirty year mark to cause an unknown malfunction that inexplicably wakes you with no way of returning to slumber. This massive ship is at your disposal—well, the areas accessible by your wrist bracelet’s discerning permissions and a crowbar—but there’s no one with which to…

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TIFF16 REVIEW: The Magnificent Seven [2016]

“It won’t sweeten, it’ll only sour” I’m at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the new The Magnificent Seven despite going in thinking it’d be the other way around. Here I was anticipating that I’d be able to watch the film with a completely blank slate because I’ve never seen the 1960 version nor have I yet been able to sit down for what is surely one of cinema’s greats: Akira Kurosawa‘s Seven Samurai. So, pretending to be a true millennial that doesn’t realize movies were made before those…

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REVIEW: Jurassic World [2015]

“This will give parents nightmares” As all good sequels must learn, the key to success is delivering on the promise set forth by the original while also providing something fresh and improved. Just ask James Cameron, a master at the task, who injected action-packed life into both Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgment Day without negating or watering down the mythology still relevant beneath those newfound popcorn blockbuster sensibilities. Neither The Lost World nor Jurassic Park III did it. They decided to both reinvent the wheel and forget what the appeal…

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REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy [2014]

“I don’t learn” It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the best Marvel film to date would be one without a single recognizable character to anyone not already a fan. Guardians of the Galaxy has been around since 1969, but it’s the 2008 iteration by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning which struck the studio’s fancy as far as opening their cinematic universe wide open. There’s still a tenuous connection to Earth with the group’s default leader being a human snatched as a child by a Ravager ship, yet this detail…

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REVIEW: The LEGO Movie [2014]

“All this is true because it rhymes” I am a child of the 80s. Ask me about Lego Star Wars or Lego Harry Potter and my response will be a quizzical look devoid of comprehension. I was a builder with a giant card table set up in my basement full of city locales and blank street platforms to create a world not unlike the one Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have in The LEGO Movie—albeit at one one-thousandth the scale. Space world? Western world? They weren’t in my vocabulary. If…

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