REVIEW: Rampage [2018]

“Even assholes deserve a second chance” To watch a play-through of Bally Midway’s 1986 arcade hit Rampage is to conjure thoughts of Wreck-It Ralph and his destructive path up a populated building to smash windows and grab bystanders. Instead of controlling a Fix-It Felix to subdue the trio of beasts wreaking havoc or a military entity throwing explosives to end the assault, you were the destroyers and destruction was your goal. To clear a level meant reducing every building in that city to rubble. You ate people and other food…

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Picking Winners at the 89th Annual Academy Awards

The 89th Annual Academy Awards hits airwaves Sunday, February 26th, 2017 at 8:30pm on ABC. Buffalonians can watch it from the comfort of their home or take a trip down to these local destinations: • The Screening Room, The Boulevard MallFree (doors open at 7:00pm)• Buffalo State College, Campbell Student UnionFree with Student ID, $10 general public (doors open at 8:00pm)• Q, 44 Allen StreetFree (Red Carpet party begins at 6:00pm) For those handicapping at home, here are the guesses of Buffalo film fanatics Christopher Schobert, William Altreuter, and myself.…

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Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2016

Below is my December 31st ballot for the 20th annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2016 calendar year. Group winners are highlighted in red. Best Picture #1Moonlight. #2Manchesterby the Sea #3Arrival. #4Jackie. #5The Witch. #6Hell orHigh Water #7La La Land. #8O.J.: Madein America #9The Handmaiden. #10Paterson. Best Animated Film #1Kubo and theTwo Strings #2Moana. #3Finding Dory. #4Zootopia. DIDN’T WATCHThe Red Turtle. Best Film Not in the English Language #1The Salesman #2The Handmaiden #3Neruda ABSTAINEDElle DIDN’T WATCHToni Erdmann Best Documentary #1I…

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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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TIFF16 REVIEW: Moonlight [2016]

“Chiron and trouble always found a way” What’s it like to be a young boy on the drug-filled streets of Miami: without friends, without family, without hope? As cliques begin to feign superiority by ganging up on the weak to prove themselves hard enough for what’s coming, Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert)—or “Little” as they call him—can do nothing but struggle to survive. So who would have thought the one man to show kindness would be the king of the very drug holes his bullies seek to rise up within? In…

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REVIEW: Our Kind of Traitor [2016]

“What am I doing here?” We received two John le Carré adaptations this year, each delivering high production value, effective performances, and somewhat weak plotting. Susanne Bier‘s The Night Manager provides a “hero” between worlds—not a bona fide spy as in A Most Wanted Man or Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, not a regular man at his rope’s end willing to do whatever’s necessary a la The Constant Gardener. Surface appearances presume to be the latter except for the fact he has military training and a penchant for killing despite a…

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REVIEW: Spectre [2015]

“You’re a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr. Bond” Remember that badass organization known as Quantum the deliciously vile Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) ran to terrorize James Bond (Daniel Craig) for two films? How about rogue former 00-program pledge Silva (Javier Bardem) wreaking havoc throughout London due a personal vendetta against MI6? They both made for entertaining villains in this rebooted saga with a grittier Bond—each helping bridge the cheese of its predecessors and the new-look superhero darkness Hollywood had embraced at the start of this century. What reason would…

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REVIEW: Southpaw [2015]

“This is the talk you get when you lose not when you win” The origins of Southpaw are interesting because it was born from screenwriter Kurt Sutter‘s want to collaborate with Eminem. Now try to picture Marshall Mathers after peering upon any of the bloodied and crazed publicity stills of his replacement Jake Gyllenhaal without laughing. Sutter has said the boxing aspect of the script was meant as a metaphor for the rapper’s personal struggles and the fight for his daughter is exactly that. He hoped the project would prove…

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REVIEW: Skyfall [2012]

“He’s keen to get home” With Paul Haggis relinquishing co-writing duties opposite duo Neal Purvis and Robert Wade to John Logan, the newest iteration of James Bond finds itself an autonomous entity. More attuned to the legacy that came before Daniel Craig donned the suit, we no longer need to worry about Mr. White or the loss of Vesper Lynd because their tale has run its course. Instead, Skyfall deals with a new chapter in the aging hero’s life as his and his employer’s loyalty is questioned against the changing…

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REVIEW: Ninja Assassin [2009]

“Weakness compels strength, betrayal begets blood” Sometimes story really doesn’t matter. I don’t say that because Matthew Sand and J. Michael Straczynski penned a horrid piece of drivel in Ninja Assassin, but instead to make mention of the absolute lack of story at all. When you have ninja warfare with swords and awesome chained hooks, (see the cool poster), that bare resemblance to Vincent Cassel’s weapon at the end of Brotherhood of the Wolf coupled with enough computer generated blood to fill a few swimming pools, the script exists solely…

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REVIEW: Street Kings [2008]

“I’m already packed” What I love about David Ayer’s work is that he is unpredictable and unafraid to tell a story in all its brutality. From his penned script Training Day to his directorial debut in Harsh Times, we are treated with bad men and worse men, doing what they need to survive and not worrying about the consequences. When I saw the trailer for his new film Street Kings, I thought I’d be in for a three-peat, but I should have looked at the writing credits. Don’t get me…

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