REVIEW: 1917 [2019]

It’s easier not to go back at all. While it appeared the Germans retreated, they were really just gathering their strength at the easier-to-defend Hindenburg Line as part of Operation Alberich in northern France. With British forces fooled and following closely behind to mount what they believed would be an offensive, their opponents were primed to turn the tables via ambush instead. After consulting aerial photographs of the Germans’ new position, General Erinmore (Colin Firth) realized 1,600 of Colonel Mackenzie’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) men would be slaughtered without his intervention. So…

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REVIEW: Stockholm [2019]

The party has begun. The names have been changed. That might not mean much since “true stories” generally do that by making composites of certain characters to give the drama a more cinematic feel, but it means a lot here considering the topic at-hand: Stockholm syndrome. It’s a complex subject dealing with the notion that captives have been known to develop a psychological attachment to their captors that’s strong enough to want to protect them from harm despite themselves being in harm as a result of being held captive. Initially…

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REVIEW: Shazam! [2019]

Come home. Two boys, decades apart, are taken to a magical realm known as The Rock of Eternity to confront its last wizard guardian (Djimon Hounsou) protecting against the seven deadly sins. One (Ethan Pugiotto‘s Thad) is revealed unworthy of becoming this magician’s champion because his soul isn’t pure. Too much anger and resentment for a belittling father and brother fills him with a desire for power, this latest rejection the final straw that ignites his devolution towards evil. The other (Asher Angel‘s Billy) can’t be tested since the darkness…

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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 of the tracks proving courage, heroism, and finesse weren’t as much a product of environment as they were personality and the capacity to overcome one’s disadvantages. There was a sweet surrogate father/son dynamic too with…

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REVIEW: Approaching the Unknown [2016]

“That planet is calling for us” While the mission is one thing, your reason for performing it could be drastically different. For Captain William Stanaforth (Mark Strong) the two barely overlap except for a common destination: Mars. He will be the first man to ever step foot on the Red Planet with another astronaut (Sanaa Lathan‘s Maddox) following closely behind his 270-day journey by about a month. He’s bringing a water generator he created that synthesizes the fluid from soil and she has supplies to ready future colonization. The endeavor…

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REVIEW: Kingsman: The Secret Service [2015]

“It’s a bulldog, innit?” I’m all for Matthew Vaughan continuing to jump from comic book property to comic book property. That’s not to say his debut Layer Cake was bad—on the contrary, I liked it a lot—he’s simply had a very successful run afterwards in the graphic novel realm spanning Stardust, Kick-Ass, and X-Men: First Class. Collaborating with Mark Millar hasn’t hurt either with his latest Kingsman: The Secret Service coming from the Kick-Ass creator’s pen. The pair plus screenwriter Jane Goldman have found a synchronicity for fun, entertaining action…

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REVIEW: Blood [2012]

“You think you’re the only one here with a conscience?” Writer Bill Gallagher took on the daunting task of turning his six-part, 360-minute miniseries “Conviction” into a 90-minute film entitled Blood. It’s a tale about family, mankind’s capacity to do wrong, and the psychology involved in growing up with impossible expectations and the knowledge they’ll never be met. No matter how good Joe (Paul Bettany) and Chrissie Fairburn (Stephen Graham) are as detectives, their legendary father Lenny (Brian Cox) will always overshadow them. He was a man who took the…

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REVIEW: Welcome to the Punch [2013]

“Does she now? You look like Kenny Rogers.” Bolstered by a script ranking number three on the 2010 Brit List—a film industry tabulation of the best unproduced British screenplays—Eran Creevy‘s Welcome to the Punch goes a long way to putting the writer/director on our cinematic map. The guy has worked behind the scenes on projects with Danny Boyle, Woody Allen, Neil Jordan, and Matthew Vaughn, the latter appearing to be who’s style he most closely resembles. Shooting a ton of music videos and commercials alongside his debut feature Shifty, Creevy…

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REVIEW: Black Gold [Day of the Falcon] [2011]

“God hates what we do in his name” The “new” film Day of the Falcon has had an odd trajectory to American theatres. Originally titled Black Gold, Jean-Jacques Annaud‘s contemporary epic in sand debuted at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Qatar and released in the director’s homeland of France way back in 2011. Kicked around the Middle East and Europe throughout 2012, critical acclaim was never earned as it for all intents and purposes got lost before being renamed and packaged for a United States audience that probably won’t…

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REVIEW: Zero Dark Thirty [2012]

“Some hummus, tabouli—I don’t know what that is—some figs” I have a very clear recollection of the day Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan because I was having dinner in India when a friend Facebook messaged me from America with the news. With no fanfare or announcement, Hindi reporters on TV were my only point of confirmation before bed. Naively (stupidly) while waiting to leave Jaipur for Ahmedabad as lobby televisions played soaps instead of breaking news the next morning, I allowed a local paper to interview me about…

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REVIEW: John Carter [2012]

“Vir-gin-ya, Vir-gin-ya, Vir-gin-ya!” When you’re working from a novel written almost a century ago about a planet we still have yet to truly discover, it would be easy to find yourself going off track onto a cheesy, archaic path of exposition. John Carter is not without its moments of superfluity and at over two hours in length does at times find itself sprawling out into an epic beyond the needs of the story being told. However, writer/director Andrew Stanton and company still manage to intrigue with their desert wasteland of…

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