Fight to the Finish (2016) – Review

2 Stars

Good son, Sean McGill (Shane Warren Jones) is a highly touted amateur fighter in MMA. Having recently won a local tournament and donated the winnings to his financially struggling parents, Sean is eyeing a professional career in the sport. His father was a former champion (although cage fighting didn’t exist before 1993) that won a hellacious battle in 1985. That sequence opens the film and immediately the budgetary limitations and lack of quality fight choreography are evident. If those things are bothersome for fans of the genre then it’s better to move on, neither improve as the film plays out. However, more forgiving audience members who give this b-movie a shot will be rewarded with the likable screen presence of Shane Warren Jones and an easy flowing story that doesn’t stumble on the way to its fight climax.
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Holy Man (1998) – Review

2 Stars

Eddie Murphy is a spiritual guru, who becomes an unwitting spokesperson for a morally bankrupt network manager in the boring and unfocused comedy Holy Man. This long, and strange story sets its self up as a broad satire only to include slapstick moments, and unsubtle attempts at poignancy. There is no flow to the narrative, scenes abruptly fade out and into one another visually, it’s a distracting technique that typifies this film’s lack of connective tissue between its theme and story.
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Jarhead 3: The Siege (2016) – Review

3 Stars

Of all the franchise to have sprung from seemingly one-off movies the Jarhead series has to be the most unlikely. Universal has plumaged the depths of their catalogues to produce sequels to Scorpion King, Death Race, and Dragonheart. Now, comes Jarhead 3: The Siege, an extremely entertaining stand-alone film that uses the moniker strictly for monetary value. I was a bit surprised just how humorous and deft this small B-movie proved to be. A major improvement over the last sequel, Jarhead 3 sets it’s self up as very worthy of another follow-up.
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Sunset Park (1996) – Review

2 Stars

How many of you knew that Cheers star Rhea Pearlman headlined a basketball drama about inner city high-schoolers on a losing team? This ill-conceived project has its heart in the right place, but it’s a bone-dumb exercise that is notable for its soundtrack and downbeat climax. Location lensing in and around New York City, as well as the world-famous Madison Square Garden, add a level of (much-needed) authenticity to this mildly enjoyable sports fable.
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Aeon Flux (2005) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Aeon Flux is one of the most absurd movies to come down the pike in a long time. This beautifully designed sci-fi thriller, is a head-scratching adaptation of the nearly incomprehensible animated shorts that ran on MTV. Ranking with Battlefield Earth and Doom as contenders for worst science fiction movie of the aughts, Aeon Flux strips lead actress Charlize Theron of charisma and saddles her with awkward dialogue.
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Punch-Drunk Love (2002) – Review

2 Stars

After the sprawling opus Magnolia, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson has pared his unique brand of filmmaking into a off-beat romantic comedy that’s not quite worth the talents of all involved. Playing like Anderson’s take on Kafka and Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, Punch Drunk Love is an under-written piece that holds viewer’s attention because of the strength of Sandler’s central performance and the sheer wonder of what the next scene will provide. This is a slight film given gravitas through skilled craft and technical efficiency. It’s a strange journey into a world that can best be described as modern take on German’s cinematic expressionist movement. Anderson’s film is dark and frustrating, while simultaneously feeling incomplete.
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Spies Like Us (1985) – Review

2 Stars

Spies Like Us may have been intended as a throwback to the Hope/Crosby pictures of the 40’s-50’s, but viewing it from today’s perspective, the blueprint for the Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson pairing looks to have been outlined here. Chase and Vaughn are both tall, unconventionally handsome, and quick-witted enough to get away with saying inflammatory things while wearing a friendly smile. Aykroyd and Wilson are floppy haired, quietly intellectual with boyish charm and naive sensibilities. It’s easy to imagine the Chase/Aykroyd duo headlining Wedding Crashers circa 1985, and Vaughn/Wilson appearing in a similarly themed project today.
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The Lawnmower Man (1992) – Review

2 Stars

It’s easy to forget that pre-James Bond, Pierce Brosnan starred in mostly bad movies. Add to the list The Lawnmower Man, a film that most people remember as ‘that virtual reality’ movie. Yes. There is in fact a lot of talk about new frontiers in a digitized dimension, but there is also a lot of contrived scenes that are so obvious in their resolutions that we are left stranded as the characters on-screen try to figure out what we already know.
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The Veil (2016) – Review

3 Stars

I’ve long admired the film works of director Phil Joanou. His grasp on storytelling, both visually and from a narrative standpoint, is so strong that middling vehicles like The Veil are elevated because of his touch. This low-budget film comes from Universal and producer Jason Blum, their tested formula is again at play, but Joanou makes the picture his own, adding a drab color platte, interesting actors and producing a number of ‘jump’ moments.
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Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999) – Review

3 Stars

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai was my first introduction to the off-beat and often intriguing filmmaking style of cult favorite Jim Jarmush. This particular film is arguably Jarmusch’s most commercial project and still it retains the quirky sensibilities that often arise in the director’s work. Not, without flaws, Ghost Dog proves to be a far-fetched tale about an insane person masquerading as a samurai in modern-day New York.
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