REVIEW: Jungle Cruise [2021]

Pause for dramatic effect. The first thing you hear at the start of Jaume Collet-Serra‘s Disney theme park ride film Jungle Cruise is the melody from Metallica‘s “Nothing Else Matters.” We hear it again later during a flashback as if composer James Newton Howard thought the hard rock ballad somehow perfectly encapsulated the age of conquistadors enough to recruit the band himself. That’s obviously not the case. Disney President Sean Bailey apparently always wanted to collaborate with them and thought this property would be the best fit regardless of the…

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REVIEW: F9: The Fast Saga [2021]

Things change. One familiar name reenters the franchise as another leaves (or, more accurately, shifts laterally) with director Justin Lin returning to helm the first Fast and Furious film not written by Chris Morgan since before the two took control of the franchise in 2006. A welcome is therefore in order for Kin scribe Daniel Casey as he stewards the saga towards an endgame star/producer Vin Diesel stated has been in the works for some time now. Whether he’ll continue to steer the ship forward remains to be seen, though,…

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REVIEW: Maximum Overdrive [1986]

It turned itself on and it bit me! To read Stephen King‘s short story “Trucks” (from the compilation Night Shift) is to get embroiled in a nihilistic nightmare along the lines of a “Twilight Zone” episode. A few people are left stranded at a truck stop while diesel vehicles gain cognizance and begin killing any people they see until fuel stores run low and a truce must be met to acquire their victims’ pumping services. There’s little room for hope as the new order of things appears destined to continue…

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REVIEW: Jolt [2021]

You’d think they’d learn not to piss her off. Does her extremely high cortisol level make young Lindy a rage monster ready to slam a kids face into a piece of cake after he jumps his turn for an early taste? Or did a rage-fueled adolescence under the rocky guardianship of a drug-addled mother and alcoholic father make it so her cortisol levels became extremely high? I don’t think screenwriter Scott Wascha cares which is which as long as his fast-paced prologue montage narrated by Susan Sarandon can let us…

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REVIEW: Die in a Gunfight [2021]

We’re gonna piss a lot of people off. From the 2010 edition of the Blacklist to Zac Efron‘s schedule, Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari‘s screenplay for Die in a Gunfight seemed to be getting the fast-track into theaters before seven years of development saw a revolving door of actors and directors changing. It would take almost a decade before cameras started rolling and the person sitting prettiest after the whole ordeal became Collin Schiffli. After two indie films written by frequent collaborator David Dastmalchian, he’s finally got his hands in…

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REVIEW: The Forever Purge [2021]

Follow the roses. There’s one key fact about the fifth and (apparently) final installment in James DeMonaco‘s Purge series that demands mentioning: it was scheduled to debut July 2020. Whereas a COVID delay doesn’t mean much for F9 or Black Widow, it’s crucial to understanding just how prescient these political horror films are. Why? Because much of what occurs in The Forever Purge is an exact parallel to January 6th, 2021. DeMonaco’s mythology leads his fictional America to the brink of insurrection not to comment on what happened five months…

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REVIEW: The Boss Baby: Family Business [2021]

Apparently, there’s no “a” in “teamwork” either. Anyone who’s seen The Boss Baby knows a sequel was set-up via the revelation that a now grown-up Tim’s (Tobey Maguire) second daughter was sent by Baby Corp. for a yet unknown mission. The previous Templeton plant (Alec Baldwin‘s Theodore) had chosen to stay and grow up to fulfill the promise of his toddler-sized suit so that the clan could have their deserved happy ending. What then would Baby Corp.’s reason be for taking this family hostage again just one generation later? How…

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REVIEW: Black Widow [2021]

I’m not the killer little girls call their hero. Even if we take COVID-19 into consideration and say that Black Widow arrived in 2020 rather than 2021, twelve years since Iron Man and nine since the character’s debut in Iron Man 2 isn’t much better than thirteen and ten. And remember when the company line was, “Well, The Winter Soldier is pretty much a Black Widow movie?” Yeah. That went over well and didn’t shine a light on a major issue within the MCU. Paired with Captain Marvel, the only…

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REVIEW: The Boss Baby [2017]

I’m enough. It’s tough to call my complete disinterest in The Boss Baby as a “judging a book by its cover” scenario when that cover is what the studio sold, but I won’t lie and say babies doing Glengarry Glen Ross wasn’t what turned me off from it. Watching every new marketing piece play into that juxtaposition as though it wasn’t a creatively bankrupt idea was simply too much to bear. So I avoided Tom McGrath‘s latest—despite believing his Madagascar series had finally come into its own by part three—and…

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REVIEW: Luca [2021]

The curious fish gets caught! It’s been ten years since one of Pixar’s best shorts was released alongside Brave. Storyboard artist Enrico Casarosa‘s La Luna was a heart-warming tale merging our reality with a fantastical premise in a way that proved perfectly suited for the animation medium’s infinite storytelling possibilities. The resonate familial relationship at its center led into that recognizable emotional journey every child and parent must take in order to allow the former the freedom to choose his/her own identity away from the latter’s shadow … but not…

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REVIEW: Wrath of Man [2021]

We’re all over-qualified for this game. And we all have a history. Fans of Guy Ritchie that wore out Lock Stock and Snatch during the early Aughts will find themselves hard-pressed to take the opening act of Wrath of Man seriously. It’s as though he and co-writers Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies are trying to re-capture the quick-paced slang that made the dialogue in those films so uniquely fun and of the moment despite being two decades removed in age and culture. Because while talking the talk as a thirty-year…

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