REVIEW: Ocean’s 8 [2018]

Hims are noticed. Hers are ignored. The best way to reboot a franchise is via a sequel. It’s smart because of the connection whether it be setting or characters since familiarity allows us as viewers to settle in without having to relearn what the property intrinsically contains. Look at Creed—or to a lesser extent Star Wars: The Force Awakens—for the perfect example of how something like this works. Both are practically carbon copies of the original installments within their respective franchises and trade on nostalgia to place a new generation…

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REVIEW: Alice Through the Looking Glass [2016]

“Everyone parts with everything eventually, my dear” Now that the whole “should we reboot or create a sequel or just go ahead and do both at once” debacle is over thanks to Tim Burton‘s misguided Alice in Wonderland, maybe Disney’s desire to create an imaginative and surprisingly dark franchise of the absurd could find creative merit to match its insane billion dollar gross. This is because the filmmakers (Linda Woolverton returns as screenwriter with James Bobin taking over the director’s chair) have acquired the latitude to think outside the box…

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REVIEW: Cinderella [2015]

“Have courage and be kind” For anyone who cannot stand singing, Disney’s latest iteration of the timeless Cinderella is catered to you. I know Chris Weitz and the other screenwriters on the project before him poured through the fairy tale’s vast lineage for every detail they could cull together into what they surely believe to be the definitive version, but what I saw onscreen is the same thing I saw as a child in cartoon form. Just without the sing-songy “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boos”. There are a couple spoken ones for…

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REVIEW: The Lone Ranger [2013]

“A fairly sinister jar of pickles at the bar” To sum up Disney’s big budget reboot of Fran Striker and George W. Trendle’s radio show turned television hit The Lone Ranger in one word conjures “silly”. It’s silly to read how Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio’s original script involved werewolves—John Reid’s outlaw does use silver bullets after all. It’s silly—and offensive—that the producers cast a movie star like Johnny Depp in the role of Tonto when so many Native American actors could have performed the role effectively. (And yes, the…

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REVIEW: Les Misérables [2012]

“I dreamed a dream” I tried to tackle Victor Hugo‘s massive literary masterpiece Les Misérables years ago only to find myself stuck two hundred pages in and our book club disbanded after learning my poor progress was actually second best among the lot of us. Suffice it to say, none of the words I caught sunk in to give me any sort of footing before sitting down to Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper‘s musical adaptation. This was a welcome development, though, as going in fresh seemed the best way to let…

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REVIEW: Dark Shadows [2012]

“You’ll have to imagine us on a better day” At present, the Tim Burton discussion can be answered in two ways. One: I’ve become too old and jaded to ‘get’ the farcical nature of the auteur’s darkly comic worlds anymore. The satiric tongue-in-cheek tonality he so brilliantly cultivated in grotesque-lite universes either doesn’t have the same effect on me that it did in my youth or just isn’t as good. In that vein comes number Two: Burton has lost a step and now languishes in a perpetual self-parody desperately trying…

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REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 [2011]

“His name is Voldemort, Filius. You might as well use it. He’s going to try and kill you either way.” Every story must come to an end and the saga of Harry Potter and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is no exception. Splitting the final novel of J.K. Rowling’s epic tale of wizardry into two films makes it so the words are given justice and very little is left out, but just as Part 1 lacked a complete arc, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is even less its own entity. To…

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Picking Winners at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards

Spree contributing writer William Altreuter, graphic designer Jared Mobarak, and I are going to share our thoughts on this week’s Oscar nominations. Let’s kick things off with a category whose victor—Colin “Mr. Darcy” Firth—seems to have already been agreed upon. — Christopher Schobert Best Actor:Javier Bardem: BiutifulJeff Bridges: True GritJesse Eisenberg: The Social NetworkColin Firth: The King’s SpeechJames Franco: 127 Hours William Altreuter: If the Academy had wanted to make a statement Jim Carrey‘s amazing turn in I Love You Phillip Morris would have found its way onto this list. Wouldn’t that…

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REVIEW: The King’s Speech [2010]

“There’s a ‘bob’ in it for you; you’ll go home a rich man” Here is a film about the making of a king through speech, both as a wartime oration to the public and as rudimentary elocution, aptly named The King’s Speech. With Hitler’s rise at the cusp of WWII, the stability of the throne in England needed a strong figure. King George V (Michael Gambon) had grown ill and his heirs included an eldest son (Guy Pearce’s David) in love with a twice-married woman and the stately, yet horribly…

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REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 [2010]

“To a perfect pureblood society” The time has arrived for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter saga to come to a close. After an admirable job condensing each increasingly thicker novel to sub-three-hour durations on film, the decision was made to have frequent screenwriter Steve Kloves split the last chapter in two to ensure every single detail is retained so the tale itself can be given the justice it deserves. The book was definitely my favorite of the series and as the end cap contains a surplus of exposition, mystery, and character…

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REVIEW: Alice in Wonderland [2010]

“Off with your head!” With a knack for creating imaginative worlds that can be both dark and colorful simultaneously, director Tim Burton seems like a natural fit to adapt the Wonderland of Lewis Carroll’s novels. However, for every inventive Big Fish or Edward Scissorhands come the atrocious re-envisionings of Planet of the Apes and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So, let’s just say I was scared going into Alice in Wonderland because, while the setting and art direction seemed perfect, I couldn’t help remember how bad his work from pre-existing…

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