REVIEW: Jumanji: The Next Level [2019]

Wherever they may be. The first cinematic adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg‘s Jumanji brought the board game’s wild jungle environment to its players’ quiet suburbia for a crazy survival adventure. Jake Kasdan and company could have easily done the exact same thing again with their reboot/sequel hybrid Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle due to over twenty years having past since its predecessor’s release, but they chose to breathe new life into the property instead. And it worked beautifully to earn critical, creative, and financial success. They revamped board and dice…

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REVIEW: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw [2019]

How long have you worked here? After eight movies and an increasing cast of characters latching on without letting go, the Fast & Furious franchise found itself overcrowded. While not a problem on a supporting level, an ego trip logjam at the top almost always gets broken up. Luckily for Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, Universal understands they can’t just boot one in favor of the other. Whether or not the pair’s rumored feud was a publicity stunt or legitimate clash of personalities, they had already become too important to…

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REVIEW: Skyscraper [2018]

Got any duct tape? In an age of remakes, reboots, and rehashes, it’s suddenly become refreshing to see homage—especially the self-aware kind. If you’ve seen the alternate posters for Rawson Marshall Thurber‘s Skyscraper that crib off the designs of Die Hard and The Towering Inferno, you understand how the filmmakers have embraced comparison due to their love for those genre classics. It’s this love that allows them to take a step back and create their own story in those images, at once honoring the past, updating for the present, and…

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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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REVIEW: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle [2017]

Find the missing piece. The end of Jumanji shows Alan and Sarah chaining up the board game before throwing it over a bridge into water. Later we see it washed ashore on a beach, buried in the sand with chains removed as people walk by speaking what sounds like French. So we wonder how long after the main plot this Planet of the Apes ending is set. Did it cross the Atlantic? There’s real fun to this abstract epilogue with infinite possibilities, especially since the unlikely sequel Jumanji: Welcome to…

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REVIEW: The Fate of the Furious [2017]

“That’s a lot of ice cream and Tay Tay concerts” A new era in The Fast and the Furious lore has begun almost four years after original co-star Paul Walker passed away doing exactly what his character Brian O’Conner did in the films: drive fast. With his role shelved by retirement rather than death, the goodness Brian provided Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his band of miscreants remains in the background as an unseen sense of morality and justice. It lingers to bolster the group’s sense of “family” and togetherness…

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REVIEW: Moana [2016]

“Beat the drum” It’s tough to give two white guys the benefit of the doubt when it comes to spearheading a blockbuster feature-length animated film about Ancient Polynesian mythology, but you cannot deny that Disney stalwarts Ron Clements and John Musker did what they could to ensure Moana stayed true to their subject’s traditions and culture. The pair conducted extensive research in the South Pacific and recruited a local “brain-trust” to keep them honest. Taika Waititi wrote a first draft, a laundry list of writers listed above took over, and…

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REVIEW: Central Intelligence [2016]

“You can’t look a guy in the eye and say something like that” Writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber is finally back to the zany, off-the-wall, and over-the-top antics that made him a hot commodity back in 2004 after the release of Dodgeball. He took a genre (the underdog sports tale), brought it down from its lofty pedestal of true life historical pedigree and had fun lambasting the tropes in as juvenile a way possible while still retaining the smarts to remain satire. His last film, We’re the Millers, lacked that flair…

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REVIEW: San Andreas [2015]

“Played a little tug-of-war with a car” Can you call a movie a disaster flick without the President of the United States declaring a state of emergency? While I ask in jest, we do expect such a sobering announcement to arrive with music soaring and heroic platitudes raining down. It never comes here, though, and its absence might be the best thing about San Andreas since it means the chaos inflicted on poor unsuspecting pixels pretending to be Californian cities doesn’t spread internationally. The shockwaves of this cataclysmic event surely…

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REVIEW: Furious 7 [2015]

“You never could take a punch” There’s something about this series that’s transcended any intellectual discussion about cinema. How else does a lamely derivative version of Point Break substituting waves with cars spawn six sequels in fifteen years? Think about that. 2 Fast 2 Furious was so bad that star Vin Diesel turned down a twenty-five million dollar payday to be in it. Then the third entry threw everything out the window but horsepower and took things international across the Pacific. This is where the taste of its potential began,…

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REVIEW: Fast & Furious 6 [2013]

“You wanna catch wolves? You need wolves.” It’s family reunion time in the Fast & Furious franchise as its creative team consisting of director Justin Lin and writer Chris Morgan expand the arc they began seven years ago with Tokyo Drift. The one installment without tough guy scowls from Paul Walker’s Brian or Vin Diesel’s Dom (although the latter did cameo), it’s out of chronological order existence had only since been alluded to via the continued participation of Sung Kang’s Han. Fast Five brought Brian’s old friends from 2 Fast…

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