REVIEW: Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood [2019]

Give me sexy, evil Hamlet. It was around midnight between August 8th and 9th, 1969 that Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel arrived at 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles on a mission from their cult leader Charles Manson. They were told to go to that house (a former renter named Terry Melcher once rebuked Manson) and kill everyone inside as gruesomely as possible. By morning five people were dead including a pregnant Sharon Tate (whose husband, director Roman Polanski, was in Europe working on a new film) with…

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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: The Fate of the Furious [2017]

“That’s a lot of ice cream and Tay Tay concerts” A new era in The Fast and the Furious lore has begun almost four years after original co-star Paul Walker passed away doing exactly what his character Brian O’Conner did in the films: drive fast. With his role shelved by retirement rather than death, the goodness Brian provided Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his band of miscreants remains in the background as an unseen sense of morality and justice. It lingers to bolster the group’s sense of “family” and togetherness…

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REVIEW: The Thing [1982]

“That’s going to win someone the Nobel Prize” It may not be the first adaptation of John W. Campbell Jr.‘s novella Who Goes There?, but John Carpenter‘s The Thing is definitely hailed as the most definitive. Unlike The Thing from Another World‘s humanoid adversary, Bill Lancaster (who took over screenwriting duties from an uncredited Tobe Hooper) writes the alien force wreaking havoc on his Antarctic research team as originally envisioned. The terror therefore isn’t conjured as a result of what it is as much as what it can do. An…

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REVIEW: The Hateful Eight [2015]

“Well I’ll be double-dog damned” It appears Quentin Tarantino has decided to go back to his roots by making his eighth feature film The Hateful Eight in the same vein as his debut Reservoir Dogs—namely keeping sets and actors to the bare minimum for added tension without room for escape. The maneuver couldn’t have come sooner with its predecessor Django Unchained, despite earning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, proving to me his weakest work. Not only was it pretty much a watered-down rehash of Inglourious Basterds, it was also…

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REVIEW: Furious 7 [2015]

“You never could take a punch” There’s something about this series that’s transcended any intellectual discussion about cinema. How else does a lamely derivative version of Point Break substituting waves with cars spawn six sequels in fifteen years? Think about that. 2 Fast 2 Furious was so bad that star Vin Diesel turned down a twenty-five million dollar payday to be in it. Then the third entry threw everything out the window but horsepower and took things international across the Pacific. This is where the taste of its potential began,…

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REVIEW: Overboard [1987]

“I’m not bored. I’m quite happy. Everyone wants to be me.” It’s really kind of crazy that a movie like Overboard could have ever come to fruition. Just look at the premise: a white trash carpenter kidnaps a wealthy debutante with amnesia to seek revenge by making her his housewife for her not paying him what she owed on a job. There are no repercussions, it’s all considered a horrible ‘trick’, and true love is formed out of one of the most clichéd and absurd opposites attract couplings ever conceived…

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REVIEW: Big Trouble in Little China [1986]

“What does that mean: ‘China is here’?” Box office returns aside, John Carpenter made the correct choice deciding to helm supernatural comedy adventure Big Trouble in Little China rather than supernatural comedy adventure The Golden Child back in the mid-80s. While both had similar twenty-five million dollar budgets, it’s hard to believe watching today that the former made back only eleven as the latter rose to almost eighty. This is what happens when your star is a bankable commodity like Eddie Murphy as opposed to an up-and-comer in Kurt Russell.…

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TIFF13 REVIEW: The Art of the Steal [2013]

“Oh. So you’re a wizard now.” When you’re looking to create a successful heist flick it’s usually a good idea to keep things simple. Make everything as airtight as possible, don’t try for too many twists and turns, and maybe throw in a double cross to add a bit of intrigue. This is something that the underrated television show “Leverage” excelled at, allowing its stellar cast to shine above its crime of the week formula. When the theft itself is a foregone conclusion and you know it will all end…

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REVIEW: Stargate [1994]

“I’m here in case you succeed” Could anyone have fathomed Stargate spawning a legion of television series and huge cult sci-fi following back in 1994? It came from writer/director Roland Emmerich after all, a man that had a German language feature and four in English, all ill received, behind him. Who knew he’d one day become the guy for big budget Hollywood end-of-the-world scenarios? Well at least a tag team partner of Captain Destruction Michael Bay. My first thought when sitting down to view this modern day classic—at the behest…

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REVIEW: Grindhouse – Planet Terror & Death Proof [2007]

“These guys got the devil in them” A double-bill, Rodriguez and Tarantino—two of the most entertaining directors working today—faux trailers, and a 70’s pulp aesthetic…can a movie of this magnitude ever live up to the almost Godlike expectations for it? Generally there is no way the real thing can meet the hype, but with the amount of talent and creativity involved here, how could Grindhouse be anything but a masterpiece? Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino know their genres and are never afraid to mix in a little violence or camp…

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