REVIEW: Ant-Man and the Wasp [2018]

“Like Baba Yaga …” While a lot of fans were instantly and irrationally mad upon learning Avengers: Infinity War wouldn’t include Hawkeye or Ant-Man, I rejoiced knowing that Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s release date fell between both it and its as yet untitled Avengers follow-up. This meant that Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) latest adventure to the Quantum Realm would have no bearing on the crazy cliffhanger seemingly sealing the fates of so many other superheroes. Marvel was positioning its cinematic universe’s “lighter side” as a vehicle to help distract audiences…

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REVIEW: A Wrinkle in Time [2018]

“Love is the frequency” While waiting outside the bathrooms after A Wrinkle in Time finished, I saw a white couple with their two young, fair-haired daughters walking out of the theater. Mom and Dad were explaining to one how movies are interpretations. They were reminding her that she had an idea of what the characters looked like while reading and now Ava DuVernay showed hers onscreen. The girl looked up and said, “Yeah. Most of them were blonde in the book.” They went out of earshot soon after, just as…

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REVIEW: 12 Strong [2018]

“There are no right choices here” War films generally come in two varieties: a gray introspective look at its emotional and psychological cost and black and white jingoistic propaganda. The former is generally acclaimed as award worthy while the latter is dumped during winter months so its target audience of NRA-loving Republicans in American flag tees has something to watch during a drama-heavy, liberally slanted awards season. (I jest.) This doesn’t, however, inherently mean one route is “better” despite valid arguments to the contrary. And for those who vehemently disagree,…

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REVIEW: CHIPS [2017]

“Shoulda cuddled, bro” I’ve never watched an episode of “CHiPs” so I don’t care whether or not the original Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox) and Francis Poncherello (Erik Estrada) pulled their guns during six seasons of television as some on social media have enjoyed touting they didn’t since the trailer hit. I will, however, admit I’m glad writer/director Dax Shepard didn’t feel beholden to such a streak of pacifism because I don’t see how it would have been entertaining for 90-plus minutes. And if his CHIPS remake is anything, it is…

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REVIEW: Collateral Beauty [2016]

“If only we could be strangers again” There’s a moment in the trailer for Collateral Beauty where Helen Mirren‘s character of “Death” is talking to someone that we cannot quite see but definitely know isn’t Will Smith. This was an intriguing “a-ha” moment for me because the premise of Allan Loeb‘s script—which passed through Alfonso Gomez-Rejon‘s hands when Hugh Jackman was attached before landing in David Frankel‘s lap—states that only Smith’s grieving Howard Inlet can see her. She’s an abstract construct much like “Love” (Keira Knightley) and “Time” (Jacob Latimore),…

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REVIEW: The Martian [2015]

“Mars will come to fear my botany powers” Sometimes we need a good old-fashioned feel good tale that doesn’t talk down to us for smiles to unabashedly form at the movies. Ridley Scott‘s The Martian provides exactly that. You have a healthy dose of infectious humor, life and death suspense, space exploration to an uncharted planet, and Earth coming together for hope. It’s easy to find a depressing film putting utilitarian principles to work so one man can die for the many to live, so seeing a piece that throws…

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REVIEW: Ant-Man [2015]

“Just a tall-tale” You can tell as soon as it happens where the Marvel machine broke Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, the two guys who had been developing Ant-Man to their singular vision since before the Cinematic Universe’s cohesive arc began. It’s a funny cameo with an Avenger, one where Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) attempts to steal a device that’s supposedly important to burgling the main prize for which Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) recruited him in the first place. Cute, entertaining, and paid off by the second of two brilliantly…

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REVIEW: Fury [2014]

“Are you saved?” I can relate when people look at David Ayer‘s Fury and shake their heads saying, “We get it. War is brutal.” I can because I remember sitting down to watch The Reader in 2008 only to think how completely over Holocaust movies I was that year. I believe I saw four or five—each good, relevant, and powerful on its own terms if not overwhelming when put together. That’s kind of the point, though, isn’t it? At the end of the day the truth of the matter is…

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Picking Winners at the 85th Annual Academy Awards

Supporting Actress:Amy Adams: The MasterSally Field: LincolnAnne Hathaway: Les MisérablesHelen Hunt: The SessionsJacki Weaver: Silver Linings Playbook William Altreuter: It often seems to me that the Best Supporting categories are where the most interesting things are to be found in the Academy Award nominations, and this year is proving me right. What we often get—especially with Best Actress in a Supporting Role—are performances that really carry the movie, even though we tend not to notice. We also get actresses showing us what they can do against type, and that display of craft and professionalism is frequently rewarded. The…

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REVIEW: Gangster Squad [2013]

“Who’s the tomato?” Tragedies like last year’s Aurora, Colorado shooting on The Dark Knight Rises‘ opening night are just that—tragic. We can never image the pain, anger, and heartache of families and friends effected or ever want to think it could happen to us. So when art skews close to reenacting that suffering—albeit with no relation whatsoever to the actual event—one can understand the trepidation in not wanting to exacerbate things by belittling the horror or appearing callous and uncaring. This is why I’m not surprised Warner Brothers held their…

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REVIEW: End of Watch [2012]

“Comfortable footwear. Police is all about comfortable footwear.” If David Ayer is to be believed, life as a South Central L.A. cop is a ticking time bomb ready to explode. What the region isn’t, however, is a cesspool of corrupt officers on the take forming yet one more gang of street thugs to combat. This is a new development in a career built on the nefarious deeds of men in power and the amorality of fresh blood taken under their wings. The writer/director of Harsh Times, Street Kings, and scribe…

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