REVIEW: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings [2021]

It’s all about staying in the pocket. A big success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been its ability to adapt. Case and point: The Ten Rings. Here’s a terrorist organization utilized in the first MCU film ever, Iron Man, with a logo inscribed by Mongolian symbols that didn’t go over well. It’s been said that the idea was to tease Shang-Chi in The Avengers before giving him and Iron Man’s arch-rival, The Mandarin, exposure afterwards. So enraged by the connotations of that first use, however, the possibility that China…

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REVIEW: Nine Days [2021]

Pull the chair. Will (Winston Duke) is one of an unknown number of interviewers at the edge of existence: men and women who were once alive that now have the power to choose which newly created souls are worthy of the same opportunity. The interview period lasts nine days and is composed of philosophical quandaries, observations, and hypotheticals meant to better understand who these protohumans are and will remain if their consciousness is transferred to a baby ready for its first breath. Will tests their resolve, their strength, and their…

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REVIEW: Raya and the Last Dragon [2021]

Who’s hungry? As Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) states during her expository prologue to Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada‘s Raya and the Last Dragon (written by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim), events that should unite us often end up doing the opposite. For the Asiatic world of Kumandra, this phenomenon occurs in the aftermath of their most dire moment once the plague known as druun (a virus-like creature that multiplies with every attack, turning living creatures into stone) is finally annihilated thanks to the bravery of a dragon named Sisu…

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REVIEW: Gemini Man [2019]

I just want some peace. It took twenty years, multiple rewrites, and a who’s who list of directors and stars, but Gemini Man finally made it to the big screen. And original scribe Darren Lemke kept his story and screenplay credits through everything. That says something considering these development hell miracles too often become abominations so far removed from their auspicious beginnings that there’s no sign of what got studios excited in the first place. David Benioff and Billy Ray earned their place beside him with Ang Lee putting his…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: The Personal History of David Copperfield [2020]

Digs for joy, that boy. Finds it too. David Copperfield (Dev Patel) has a story to tell. It begins with his cute, precocious little self (Jairaj Varsani) making Mom laugh and nanny Mrs. Peggotty (Daisy May Cooper) laugh even harder. He’s a headstrong boy with dreams of joy thanks to the overflowing love shown to him by everyone but his aunt (Tilda Swinton‘s Betsey Trotwood) … for now. Like most widowed women of thirty with an estate in the Victorian Era, however, remarrying is a foregone conclusion for Ms. Copperfield.…

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REVIEW: Annihilation [2018]

Sometimes it’s beautiful. Reflections have been the subject of many fantasies whether it’s Through the Looking-Glass or Poltergeist III. The notion that a double exists in a different world conjures an unavoidable eeriness and the possibility of usurpation wherein fiction could become truth. It’s easy to therefore see the inherent duality as a good versus evil scenario with conqueror and conquered fighting for the opportunity to exist. But what happens when you make your mirror less smooth? What if the prism through which your image has been duplicated refracts rather…

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REVIEW: Doctor Strange [2016]

“It’s not about you” People love to complain about superhero origin story trappings and they’re correct. The need to introduce new characters in their own standalone piece forces writers and directors to focus on certain check stops as far as normal life, transformation, and the embracing of one’s power to find the courage to selflessly fight evil. But just because these things are obvious doesn’t mean they have to be boring or that they have to diminish the final product. Many Marvel Universe fans still laud Iron Man as this…

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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: Sunshine [2007]

“When he chooses for us to die, it is not our place to challenge God” I love Danny Boyle’s work. Sure I haven’t seen The Beach or Shallow Grave, but I can’t see myself thinking they will be anything less than fantastic because he has never let me down. The man has spanned genres and never shied away from doing something different than before. Between his visual flair—aesthetically and kinetically—and his brilliant choices in screenwriters to collaborate with, Boyle astounds at every turn. His newest film Sunshine just enhances his…

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