REVIEW: Dark Phoenix [2019]

What did you do to her? Hollywood franchise filmmaking really is a frustrating system insofar as allowing good source material room to breathe. That’s not to say it doesn’t sometimes work too, though. Look at Twentieth Century Fox’s cinematic X-Men saga for instance. After hitting a comic book high with X2, the desire for more bombast coupled by a much blunter director (Brett Ratner replaced Bryan Singer, who jumped ship from Marvel to DC) saw X-Men: The Last Stand seemingly destroy all hope of ever seeing this iteration of these…

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REVIEW: mother! [2017]

“His words are yours” Paramount has taken pains to ensure you know as little about Darren Aronofsky‘s mother! as possible. I know this because they’ve made it very difficult to find any images with which to populate this review. Their press site has no entry. The Toronto International Film Festival site contains no stills. And my local publicist made it very clear that press wasn’t allowed to bring a plus one to the screening. I’m surprised the studio let it play TIFF and Venice at all since that only means…

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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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REVIEW: X-Men: Apocalypse [2016]

“And from the ashes of their world, we’ll build a better one” At a certain point Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) understands his pupils need more than just help controlling their powers in the X-Men universe. They must also learn to fight. He and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) had no choice but to battle forces of evil in X-Men: First Class and in Days of Future Past the real war was fought in the future with a team of soldiers already formed decades after a thus far unseen origin. Professor X,…

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Picking Winners at the 88th Annual Academy Awards

For those handicapping at home, here are the guesses of Buffalo film fanatics Christopher Schobert, William Altreuter, and myself. Jared Mobarak: Here’s hoping Chris Rock does his best Ricky Gervais as far as not caring about political correctness or duty to kissing up to the celebrities all dressed-up nice because having him host the 2016 Oscars ceremony amidst the whole #OscarsSoWhite controversy is an opportunity not to be squandered. Two years in a row with no black actor/actress up for gold? That’s a major problem with The Academy and the…

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REVIEW: Joy [2015]

“No, I don’t need a prince” There’s a reason you don’t hear “Mangano” throughout David O. Russell‘s supposed biography of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano and it’s because Joy isn’t real. Whether original scribe Annie Mumolo intended this aesthetic—she reportedly fought tooth and nail to retain her credit—or Russell retooled its tone, what could have been an empowering rags-to-riches drama proves a hyper-stylized comic fairy tale instead. So when Joy’s (Jennifer Lawrence) attending a professional business meeting introducing herself to people she hopes will take a chance on her ideas,…

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REVIEW: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

“They chose you” With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 officially in the books I’m confident in saying Suzanne Collins‘ dystopic trilogy will hold up as one of the most successfully faithful cinematic adaptations ever. And a big part of that is the decision to make it into four movies because, as anyone who’s read the novels knows, Mockingjay is a dense work with little fat where its political and emotional intrigue are concerned. Any issues stem from Lionsgate’s misguided choice of putting a full year’s wait in between…

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REVIEW: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 [2014]

“If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree” Welcome to the bait and switch. If you’ve read Suzanne Collins‘ Hunger Games Trilogy you know that Mockingjay is by far the meatiest and most resonate installment of the series despite diverting from the blueprint that brought people in. So rich in the politics, revolution, and sci-fi lying underneath the action of the previous entries, splitting it into two films was actually a good idea. They should have placed the release dates months apart a la The Matrix sequels rather…

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REVIEW: X-Men: Days of Future Past [2014]

“Mind the glass” If you have a storyline at your disposal capable of continuing two separate iterations of a single cinematic franchise simultaneously, you’d be a laughing stock not to take it. Credit Fox for seizing this opportunity to create something not even Marvel proper has dared to do quite yet. Would they have made the attempt had Star Trek not already used time travel in a way that didn’t completely alienate its summer blockbuster movie-going audience? I’d be interested to hear the producers’ thoughts on this because I’m not…

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REVIEW: Divergent [2014]

“Faction before blood” Like it or not, the twenty-first century has brought cultural alterations. For instance, the conversation about futuristic dystopias and/or social upheaval no longer includes 1984, Brave New World, or Fahrenheit 451. Our contemporary equivalents are now The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent. They may not be at the same reading level, target the same demographic, or prove as smart and prophetic as the former trio, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t relevant or effective. All except for one thing impossible to ignore: their delivery method.…

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The 86th Oscars recap through tweets …

Welcome to the 86th Annual Academy Awards everyone! If you didn’t watch the festivities that occurred Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre you are probably a lot better off than most of us because it was a very lackluster affair. We all hoped Ellen DeGeneres would bring a fun, smart, witty return to her success with the 79th installment, but the reality ended up being one of the most dull and safe presentations in quite some time. I guess it wasn’t all bad, though, considering the Academy actually got most…

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