Magic Mike (2012) – Review

3 Stars

Lets address the elephant in the room at the start. Magic Mike is not the Showgirls of our generation. Thankfully Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh has infused an artistic angle on this dark comedy/drama that adds a level of seriousness and realism that the campy Paul Verhoeven film from the 1990’s could only wish for. Channing Tatum (who co-authored the screenplay based on his experiences as a dancer) is Mike, a Florida based construction worker by day and an exotic male dancer by night. The dual lifestyles are only for income as his real interest is in designing unique furniture.
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Inside Out (2015) – Review

4 Stars

There are two types of Pixar films nowadays, the creatively empty sequel machines or stories with such originality, creativeness and emotions they should be nominated for OSCARS. Inside Out falls into that latter category. This is flat-out one of the best movies of the year. It ranks up there with the touchstones of the genre, created by Pixar in fairness, that will surely stand the test of time and delight audiences for generations.
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Spy (2015) – Review

2 Stars

Recently, I was suggesting that comedies succeed or fail based on the likability of their stars’ appeal. I’m not a fan of Melissa Mcarthy’s antics. There are millions of people who find her schtick amusing and I’m sure she is a nice person but, I don’t think she is very funny. In small doses McCarthy is a scene stealer, as the lead she is dependent on one tone of comedy and after 90 minutes it becomes obnoxious.
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Riddick (2013) – Review

2 Stars

Director\Writer David Twohy’s second attempt at recreating the thrilling experience of his 1999 cult classic Pitch Black, is alternately better and worse than 2004s big-budget flop (and guilty pleasure) The Chronicles of Riddick. This latest sequel simply titled Riddick is besieged with an entirely different set of problems than the larger scale second entry into what has now inexplicably become a trilogy. If Chronicles veered into bad Shakespeare territory, Riddick is content borrowing elements from Conan, I am Legend, and Aliens. This makes for a very uneven viewing experience and the movie, while containing some strong individual scenes, never gels as a whole story.
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Transcendence (2014) – Review

1 Star

Transcendence marks the directing debut of longtime cinematographer and frequent Christopher Nolan collaborator, Wally Pfister. This is of note not because of the promotion given to Pfister, due rather to the close resemblance of style and visual look of Nolan’s work. It looks, talks and moves like a Nolan film but there is a key ingredient missing that ultimately turns the recipe into a bland mixture of heighten techno paranoia and ridiculous plot turns.
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Ex Machina (2015) – Review

3 Stars

Deus ex machina (Latin: dei ex machina) 1.A calque from Greek, meaning “god from the machine”. – Wikipedia

There is an awful lot of discussion about man playing god, in the appropriately titled Ex Machina, the latest thriller from novelist/screenwriter Alex Garland, who also directs. This is a low-key, there are only four cast members, sometimes mesmerizing odyssey into classical literary themes.
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Mortdecai (2015) – Review

1 Star

At year’s end, I’m positive that Mortdecai will not only make my own personal Top Ten worst of list but, will also unanimously appear on every other critics’ as well. This is a supremely silly action-comedy that astonishes as it moves along its convoluted plot and gibberish laden script. Apparently based on a series of books by Kyril Bonfiglioli, Johnny Depp inhabits the title role of a buffoon art collector called on by Mi-5 to unravel the of plot a missing Goya.
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The Interview (2014) – Review

2 Stars

When all the political hoopla is said and done, film buffs will be faced with the truth that The Interview is simply a flimsy, sometimes funny, satirical spoof of media and the world’s fascination with celebrity culture. Sure, this is a modern-day Hope and Crosby ‘road comedy’ but, it’s also the movie that nearly incited an international incident over it’s very existence. If a film is ever to start war, I would hope that it be something a little more sacred than a Seth Rogen/James Franco flick. Whats next China performing subterfuge because the Autobots destroyed Beijing?
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Jurassic World (2015) – Review

4 Stars

Jurassic World‘s director Colin Trevorrow was hand-picked by Steven Spielberg to continue the series. It’s no wonder then that World closely resembles that first film’s style, and sense of fun. This is a thrill ride tuned to perfection by a team of high function craftsmen and a capable cast that turns the ordinary into extraordinarily good. Plus, its great to hear that excellent theme music from John Williams reinterpreted by Michael Giacchino here, again blaring through theater speakers.
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Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The fourth installment in the tired Transformers franchise, is a lumbering unwieldy mess. The bloated running time serves as an invitation for elongated CGI sequences that are as visually confused as the script is simple. Losing the original cast and softly rebooting the series is to no avail, this movie peaks early and is then a steady march through the well-established routines set up by three previous pictures. Knockoffs like Hasbro’s own Battleship, are starting to look good-by comparison, a sure sign that the producers should stop now.
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The Waterboy (1998) – Review

2 Stars

Previous to The Waterboy, there had been signs that Adam Sandler was becoming a box-office sensation. He stole Bulletproof from his more established co-stars, both Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore were moronic solid earners, and The Wedding Singer was a modest hit. All leading up to the release of The Waterboy in the fall of 1998, the movie absolutely exploded at the box-office and sold and estimated 32 million tickets. Adam Sandler was now a verified comedic draw. So, it’s somewhat mystifying that The Waterboy propelled Sandler to the forefront of screen funny men, but is such a sub-par product compared to the comedian’s output thus far.
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Sex Tape (2014) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Sex Tape is a movie that is entertaining despite itself. The final product shows obvious signs of post-production tweaking, and I get the feeling that the producers were happy to salvage something that plays. This is a good-natured but one-note comedy that aspires to be all things, a topical glimpse of a married couple’s sex life, a slapstick farce, and a social satire. Although the characters are engaging, particularly Siegel as the bumbling husband, this lightweight comedy suffers rom a rambling script and one too many endings.
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River of Death (1989) – Review

1 Star

River of Death may have been based on the novel by famed writer Alister McLean but, it is actually Cannon Film’s version of Apocalypse Now. Instead of traveling up river to find a crazed U.S. Captain gone AWOL, this movie features a group traveling up a different river to locate and execute a former NAZI war criminal. It is all very Joseph Conrad mixed with The Boys from Brazil.
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