REVIEW: The Lost World: Jurassic Park [1997]

So you went from capitalist to naturalist in just four years. That’s something. It’s one thing for a movie to spawn a sequel for no other reason than money—especially at the Hollywood level where the capitalistic gains of producers usurp the artistic worth of its creators. But it’s another to ask the artist who spawned the property to go down that bankrupt well with them. This is exactly what happened when the time came to follow-up the smash hit Jurassic Park, however. The original book was a bestseller that only…

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REVIEW: Rupture [2017]

“You will feel it soon” It’s taken ten years, but Secretary director Steven Shainberg has finally followed-up Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus. The result is Rupture, a body horror-lite tale about a woman held captive as part of an experiment meant to unlock humanity’s hidden potential to evolve beyond our current state. Written by Brian Nelson (the two share story credit), its script seeks to mess with our expectations as it does its prisoner Renee (Noomi Rapace). We’re to cultivate a sense of paranoia with surveillance dominating the…

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REVIEW: Penguins of Madagascar [2014]

“Venetian blinded again” Is Penguins of Madagascar a total cash grab? Not quite. It’s one thing when a studio hones in on a successful franchise’s periphery character and deems it worthy of a spin-off by pretending it possessed enough depth to carry a feature of its own, but it’s another when the filmmakers embrace its appeal and simply expanded upon that element. Puss in Boots was painted as a hero to begin with and supplying him an origin wasn’t a giant leap past Shrek. The “cute and cuddly” penguins from…

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REVIEW: The Zero Theorem [2014]

“Making sense of the good things in life” If the end were empty—as was the beginning—wouldn’t life be meaning in itself? Why do we constantly ask the question and seek its answer if so many believe our present existence is merely a stepping-stone towards eternity? If that’s truly the case one could label life as a vicious joke—a test in futility God has set forth to ensure we endure the pain and suffering he promises to extinguish at the opening of his pearly gates. This is why suicide is unforgivable…

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Bang Bang Baby [2015]

“I am that. I am the service station.” Harkening back to the era of its setting, Bang Bang Baby embraces the over-the-top aesthetic of 1963 entertainment with small town girl Stepphy (Jane Levy) dreaming big for a chance at stardom in New York City. Overproduced, old-timey vocals emanate from her mouth as faux backdrops provide the film with the same type of production value we see in the cheesy TV program starring heartthrob Bobby Shore (Justin Chatwin) that she adores. Unfortunately, even if her song wins her a spot on…

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REVIEW: 22 Jump Street [2014]

“Something cool!” I really wished 22 Jump Street‘s one-note joke would sustain. I really did. I even forgave the first thirty minutes lulling me to sleep with cute references to its increased production budget courtesy of its prequel’s surprise financial success like carbon copy beats built bigger and Korean Jesus getting replaced by his Vietnamese brethren. Sadly, however, I knew it never could. The joke’s funny because it’s self-deprecating and true, but at a certain point you must expand beyond “meta”. Dare I say The Hangover Part II was better…

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REVIEW: Constantine [2005]

“You still trying to buy your way into Heaven” At the height of the first new wave of comic book adaptations, Warner Bros. delved a little deeper into the literary medium’s annals for something dark like New Line’s Blade. It was three years before Iron Man ushered in cinematic universes and a year after Spider-Man 2 and X2 provided a one-two punch of the genre’s potential. Batman Begins was always going to be the studio’s 2005 crown jewel, but you could call Constantine a precursor to its pitch-black, cynical atmosphere…

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REVIEW: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters [2013]

“Never enter a house made of candy” The thing that’s so disappointing about Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is the rather ingenious premise at its back. Taking the classic Grimm Brothers tale and expanding on the results of what escaping an evil witch in the woods as children by burning her alive in an oven is so simple and obvious that it’s a wonder no one had thought of it before (not counting The Brothers Grimm). Credit Norwegian writer/director Tommy Wirkola for seeing the potential in transforming these scared kids…

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REVIEW: Dylan Dog: Dead of Night [2011]

“That’s just what this case needed, a seven foot tall, flesh-eating zombie” Based on the Italian comic book series from Tiziano Sclavi, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night introduces us to a world of the supernatural and occult. A cross between “True Blood” and Hellboy—inhabited by the monsters of the former and containing the high-style fantasy aesthetic of the latter—we are lead around by the titular private detective on his first real case in three years. Languishing in the monotony of extramarital affairs and blackmail, Dylan Dog (Brandon Routh) has turned…

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REVIEW: Unknown [2006]

“He must be tied up for a reason” Here is a little known film that never reached theatres in Buffalo, despite its all-star cast of talented actors. When you have guys like Jim Caviezel, Greg Kinnear, Barry Pepper, Peter Stormare, and Joe Pantoliano, with Jeremy Sisto and Bridget Moynahan thrown in, and an intriguing trailer about five men waking up with amnesia in an abandoned warehouse, not knowing which side of good they are on, (a couple people are hurt and/or tied up), how could this film not be raking…

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