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: Naked Singularity [2021]

Shouldn’t that ‘we’ be us? The title is a metaphor. Naked Singularity. It’s what makes the conceit behind Sergio De La Pava‘s novel so intriguing (the criminal justice system in America is a black hole consuming everything in its path, but, unlike in general relativity where an event horizon shields the act from outside observation, we are helplessly watching as it happens) and why director Chase Palmer and his co-writer David Matthews‘ cinematic adaptation leaves a lot to be desired. Because while the concept remains sound as the backdrop for…

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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: Zola [2021]

Clean your butt! Twitter user A’Ziah King had the platform eating out of her palm for 148-tweets back in 2015. Everyone wanted to “hear a story about why [she] & this bitch here fell out” and waited patiently for each new mini chapter before the entire opus got screenshot, shared on every social media site, and inevitably crossed the radar of Rolling Stone‘s David Kushner to document what “really” happened for the magazine later that year. And since you can’t go viral to that extent without earning some attention from…

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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 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: 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: Scenes from an Empty Church [2021]

A Bible and a fifth of bourbon. We all look for signs and we all interpret them how we see fit whether doing so is correct or not and despite those so-called “signs” proving nothing but coincidences to which we’ve ascribed unearned meaning. It’s how we find comfort. It’s how we wake up in the morning. And it’s the point where spirituality and religion intersect before ultimately diverging since the former deals in faith’s freedom and the latter in faith’s commoditization. One allows us to believe what we believe without…

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REVIEW: First Date [2021]

Let’s talk turkey. Tony (Todd Goble) declaring his love over the phone to a woman he just met while hastily (and poorly) packing a suitcase in the hopes of getting out of Dodge before the people coming after him arrive with guns drawn is obviously going to impact what follows. His yet unknown pursuers will inevitably become Mike’s (Tyson Brown) inheritance being the lead in Manuel Crosby and Darren Knapp‘s latest feature First Date, their band of criminals in search of something valuable enough to kill anyone that gets in…

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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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