REVIEW: The Death of Stalin [2017]

I can’t remember who’s alive and who isn’t. The Russians may have taken umbrage with British director Armando Iannucci‘s The Death of Stalin—a tale of backstabbing governmental hilarity—but their successful quest to ban it domestically is a case of “doth protest too much.” The Soviet Union allied with Hitler’s Nazi regime before joining the winning side and Stalin was very much an enemy of my enemy type of compromise. So while some may have glossed over his many atrocities because he once posed for a photograph with Roosevelt and Churchill,…

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REVIEW: Trolls [2016]

“I think I had sarcasm once” Depending on what you read, the genesis of Trolls is quite fascinating as original director Anand Tucker was to helm an adaptation of Terry Pratchett‘s Bromeliad trilogy about tiny humanoids in 2010. Did that project ultimately evolve into the glitter vomit Walt Dohrn and Mike Mitchell provide us today? Maybe. I personally hope that project was simply canceled so Tucker could subsequently shift over to Trolls in 2012 as a brand new journey. I don’t want to discover the opposite—that his work on Pratchett’s…

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REVIEW: The Accountant [2016]

“You deserve wow” This is one of those cases where a film might have benefited from a smaller budget. Where you wish Warner Bros.’s independent shingle didn’t shutter in 2008. It’s not like $44 million is a huge sum of money—not by Hollywood standards anyway—but if you cut it in half, maybe lose the star power of Ben Affleck, and take things to a grittier, less-polished place, The Accountant could prove the kind of hit studios covet after John Wick took the box office by storm two years back. Bill…

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REVIEW: The D Train [2015]

“Like lawn chairs” Calling The D Train a comedy is probably the most accurate description to bestow upon it, but the label doesn’t quite do it justice. I’m still wrestling about whether that’s because it’s more than a simple comedy or because it utilizes the genre so it can get away with a strain of insensitive humor. Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel‘s sophomore feature script (they wrote Yes Man) ultimately feels alternatingly exploitative and heartfelt. Each time they take a pitch-black turn to some heavy corners that force Dan Landsman…

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REVIEW: The Hangover Part II [2011]

“I don’t get it. Is this a magic show?” It’s very weird to go into two films with completely different feelings despite them having almost identical plots and comedic upside. Two years ago, I couldn’t wait to check out The Hangover and see if the hype was real. My contact at Warner Brothers was even compelled to confirm my RSVP for the screening by saying it’s the funniest thing she had seen in years. Somehow—and this is rare—Todd Phillips’s self-proclaimed Star Wars, due to the amount of money he earned…

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REVIEW: Paul [2011]

“And that’s Jenga!” If I hadn’t already realized this fact last year after loving Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, I knew it following my screening of Paul—Edgar Wright is the lynchpin of success for the quartet of he, Nira Park, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost. It began on British television with the hilarious homage-driven “Spaced” and continued onto the big screen in two very funny, very over-the-top, and very British films. Replacement director Greg Mottola is no slouch—he brought us Superbad and Adventureland after all—he just can’t fill Wright’s shoes…

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REVIEW: Win Win [2011]

“We have kids, Mike. I’m not taking chances with Eminem down there.” Just when I finally catch Thomas McCarthy’s debut film, The Station Agent, and deem it the touchtone all his other work will be compared towards, he one-ups himself with Sundance fave Win Win. Delving into the human psyche and second chances once more, his newest may be his most palatable. The cast is a bit more recognizable at its present, while still holding to indie stars, and even though the subject matter may be a fringe topic like…

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REVIEW: Tangled [2010]

“Goldie, look at all the blood in his mustache” How long does it take to grow your hair so that you can use it with a pulley system to lift a person up a good hundred feet? Well, if Disney’s Tangled is to be believed, eighteen years. I don’t think it hurts having the golden locks also be magical; the whole ability to heal living creatures does lead you to believe it will constantly heal itself and not get dry, brittle, or manifest loose ends. But then that’s what happens…

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REVIEW: The Hangover [2009]

“Couldn’t find a meter, but here’s four bucks” The success of Old School pretty much vaulted Todd Phillips onto the A-list for comedy directors. We waited and waited for his second hit, (I didn’t forget about Road Trip which was good as a precursor to Old School), but only got the mediocre Starsky and Hutch and—what I can only imagine as disappointing—School for Scoundrels. Maybe what Phillips needed was a script from the guys that brought us Four Christmases and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past … wow, this is sounding worse…

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REVIEW: Hellboy II: The Golden Army [2008]

“Which Holocaust shall be chosen?” Guillermo del Toro goes behind the camera again to continue the saga of everyone’s favorite demon on Earth who works for the government to fight evil in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Having already worked on a sequel in his career (Blade II), I had high hopes for this one to improve upon a solid first installment. Being that he was the second director in as many films for that vampire series, he was able to come in with a fresh eye. Here, however, he…

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REVIEW: Hellboy [2004]

“She took his picture” You gotta love Guillermo del Toro. The man knows how to play the system, staggering his Spanish language tales of wonderment with the oft-Hollywood big-budget action flick. The beauty of it is, however, that del Toro never compromises his vision when tackling a comic book adaptation. Looking at a film like Blade II shows that he carries his style with him wherever he goes, improving on a pretty solid first installment and showing that he can handle the work. That film helped land him the duties…

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