REVIEW: Get Duked! [2020]

How can you get lost in a place without corners? Teamwork. Orienteering. Foraging. Three tasks that shouldn’t be too difficult to complete when bolstered by your best friends on a hiking trip en route to earning the Duke of Edinburgh Award. It’s going to be a challenge, but most who seek it do so with open eyes because of what the accolade means on their university applications. They want to be their best, will follow the map to the letter, and meet their chaperone at the midway campsite and coastal…

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REVIEW: Abominable [2019]

Dude. You darted Dave. Writer/director Jill Culton started production on Abominable in 2010 before eventually leaving the project and ultimately coming back on-board. Still retaining sole writing credit, I have to believe Dreamsworks stayed true to her original narrative vision during those years when she was away. Maybe they fiddled with things to hew closer to a proven formula (the plot similarities to the studio’s How to Train Your Dragon are many) or perhaps parallels to that 2010 release were always present considering the close proximity of their respective geneses.…

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REVIEW: The Lego Batman Movie [2017]

“‘Puter, overcompensate” It was always going to be an uphill battle. The success of The LEGO Movie was so surprising and legitimate that a sequel was going to have to work five times harder to match it. So maybe pushing the follow-up off to focus on a spin-off was the way to go. Expectations would be lowered, Will Arnett‘s Batman was a fan favorite to carry the weight, and you wouldn’t necessarily be beholden to the previous installment’s plot or ingenious use of human omniscience. Screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith could focus…

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REVIEW: Velvet Goldmine [1998]

“It’s funny how beautiful people look when they’re walking out the door” What if Citizen Kane wasn’t about Charlie’s Foster Kane but instead the interviewer tasked with speaking to those in Kane’s life, mining for the meaning of “Rosebud”? This is sort of where director Todd Haynes (co-written with James Lyons) begins his fictional account of Brit glam rocker Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Velvet Goldmine deals with this enigma of a star and his tumultuous life before fading completely out of the public consciousness following a misguided stunt. (Or…

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REVIEW: Cars 2 [2011]

“I vant to siphon your gas” Being that I was not in what appeared to be a vast majority of people who thought Cars was ‘lesser’ Pixar, I can’t say I was too surprised to find I was on the outside of the even bigger group of critics who trashed Cars 2 as a sequel based solely on toy manufacturing profit. Yes, it is totally a cash-grab—I’m not questioning that fact—but alongside this is an attempt to create something the studio has yet to do, an entertaining comedy existing on…

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REVIEW: Valkyrie [2008]

“Long live sacred Germany” Bryan Singer returns to a world that isn’t inhabited with superheroes, joining an old friend in screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, a partnership that last resulted in The Usual Suspects. The question then becomes whether lightning can strike twice and if Tom Cruise’s thoughts that it would, by producing it as his second feature as head of United Artists, could be correct. With Valkyrie, a “based on true events” tale of high Nazi officials with enough guts to risk their lives to stop Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror…

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REVIEW: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian [2008]

“They used to dance” After three years, Andrew Adamson returns the world of Narnia to film fans everywhere with Prince Caspian. Shot out of order from the stories themselves, this is the obvious second choice cinematically. With the ever-looming challenge of young actors aging at such a fast pace, he needs to get all the tales concerning these kings and queens done before they become way too old. As it is, both Edmund and Lucy appear much older than the previous work, but it never detracts from the proceedings. This…

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TIFF07 REVIEW: Across the Universe [2007]

“Either learn French or die” Julie Taymor’s film Across the Universe has been high up on my most anticipated list for a year now. Taking classic and lesser-known Beatles’ tunes, she has crafted a contemporary musical about a group of young adults at the turning point of life during the start of the Vietnam War. While highly ambitious and oftentimes gorgeous to behold, the film ultimately ends up being a failed attempt at genius. Visually stunning, almost every sequence assaults your eyes with beauty and unique splendor. Unfortunately, Taymor may…

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REVIEW: Ocean’s 13 [2007]

“Are you watching Oprah?” Many people I have heard from plain despised Ocean’s 12 when they saw it. They complained of its weak plot and unreal goofiness. However, I found it to be very entertaining despite all of that. What the first film had as far as intelligence and wit, the second had in cool and fun. Sure the story was far-fetched and convoluted, but I’d pay to see these guys having fun onscreen anytime. I don’t go to a film like this to be intellectually stimulated, I go to…

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