Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

I’ve seen Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice twice, and I’m still not clear on every plot development that transpires throughout. Unfortunately, this highly anticipated pairing of the most popular characters within the DC Comic universe is just as ungainly as its wordy title. This is an unwieldy epic that has moments of cinematic exuberance and others that display the current weakness of the over-saturated genre. Still, the visual style and filmmaking verve of director Zack Synder often off-sets the films shortcomings.
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Raw Deal (1986) – Review

2 Stars

Raw Deal is the second installment of an unofficial trilogy involving cops taking down Chicago mobsters. The other bookends would be Code of Silence and Above the Law, each features an action icon from the eighties and bad guys who drive big Cadillacs, and wear expensive suits. Raw Deal is the weakest link in the chain, not because of Schwarzenegger or the direction from John Irvin, but rather an overly complicated screenplay that jettisons sub-plots and characters for easy set-ups and lazy pay-offs.
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Rough Cut (1980) – Review

2 Stars

It’s become part of the James Bond mythology that American actor Burt Reynolds was approached by series producer Albert R. Broccoli to take over the role for the departing Sean Connery. Thankfully, for Reynolds and audiences this never came to fruition. Yet, Rough Cut feels like a glimpse of what could have been. Hitchcock movies, Cary Grant pictures, and The Italian Job all seem to be heavy inspirations for this troubled film, that saw three directors exited during a tumultuous production.
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King Kong (2005) – Review

4 Stars

Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong is marvelous and meticulous entertainment. No expense has been spared or shortcuts taken in delivering the ‘wow’ factor multiple times throughout the course of its lighting quick 183 minute running-time. Don’t let the elongated length dissuade you from the film, there is hardly a dull moment as the characters are thrown together on a steamer headed to the mysterious Skull Island. The film has been structured as three major movements from the depression era streets of New York to battling all sorts of prehistoric creatures and then climaxing with a battle atop the Empire State Building.
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Steel (1997) – Review

1/2 Star

Fanboys and websites love to debate about the worst comic book movie ever made. Often times Batman & Robin, Elektra and Fantastic Four are cited as the worst cinematic representation of our illustrated superheroes. But Steel is by far the most inept, poorly produced, and plain boring of all the DC or Marvel properties that have graced the silver screen thus far. Based on a little known character from the pages of the Superman mythos, Steel has been removed from his comic book storyline, given a new origin story, and a fabricated antagonist.
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Black Sheep (1996) – Review

2 Stars

Black Sheep is remembered by most film buffs as the infamous film that esteemed film critic Gene Siskel walked out on. During their television program, Siskel & Ebert, Mr. Siskel stated that the film was clearly unwatchable and so lazy in its writing,direction, and acting that he couldn’t tolerate another minute. While I agree with the argument, I’ve seen much worse, lets not forget that Bio-Dome was released just a few months prior, and Chris Farley’s hard work to please produces, at least, a few chuckles.
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Rumble in the Bronx (1996) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

The first shot in Rumble in the Bronx is of an airplane traveling West into the setting sun. The plane flies past the Statue of Liberty before landing at the world-famous La Guardia International hub. This is no doubt supposed to be a visual message that Eastern star Jackie Chan is coming to America in an effort to break into the ranks of box-office heavyweights. Producer Raymond Chow and his Golden Harvest production company have been behind an astonishing number of Chan’s films dating back to the early 1980’s, they also are responsible for casting Bruce Lee in his first pictures. Their intent here is to “introduce” Jackie Chan to American audiences.
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Executive Decision (1996) – Review

3 Stars

Executive Decision is most likely remembered as the movie that killed Steven Seagal. The action-icon is iced in the film’s first act and audience never seemed to recover from the marketing bait & switch that promised a Delta Force like vehicle for Seagal, but was actually a taunt thriller starring Kurt Russell, Oliver Platt, John Leguizamo, and B.D. Wong. Names that don’t immediately spring to mind when pitching Die Hard on a plane.
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Ride Along 2 (2016) – Review

1 Star

Ride Along 2 is a coarser, more hectic, more cheaply written sequel to the smash hit from a few years back. This is a dull, and redundant exercise in marching through mismatched buddy-movie troupes. The biggest loser in all of this is star Kevin Hart, who still hasn’t found the right comedy vehicle for his talents. Ice Cube’s legacy as a hip-hop pioneer hopefully won’t be tarnished by the string of sub-par movies he’s appeared in over the last 20+ years. Here, the comedy is tepid, the action is dopey and even the violence is boring.
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Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996) – Review

1 Star

In the annals of unnecessary sequels Lawnmower Man 2 ranks amongst the worst. Rightfully taking its place along side undistinguished company like Blair Witch Project 2, Species II, and Pet Cemetery 2, just to name a few. The only returning member from 1992’s Lawnmower Man is Austin O’ Brien, no longer a silly looking adolescent, but a goofy looking teenager. This is one of the most preposterous movies I’ve ever seen, and I have sat through all the Highlander movies, and Super Mario Bros.
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Big Game (2014) – Review

3 Stars

If Steven Spielberg ever produced a Renny Harlin film the result would, presumably, resemble the 2014 finnish film Big Game. Had this movie come out when I was a 12-year-old boy it would have possibly been my favorite film of all-time, as an adult I can still indulge my inner child with genre throwbacks like this. There will never be any debate about Big Game being passed over during awards season, but this nimble adventure film is a joyous exercise in formula that has been injected with humor, deft action sequences, a touch of E.T., and moments of poignancy.
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Cannonball Run II (1984) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The wheels have finally fallen off of the car-themed pictures of one-time box office king Burt Reynolds. The Cannonball Run II is the fifth collaboration between Reynolds and director Hal Needham, while this sequel is a better product that the original Cannonball Run, the absence of any artistic intent, or comedic by-play ranks this as one of the worst in Reynolds’ vast trove of cinematic turkeys.
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The Last Witch Hunter (2015) – Review

3 Stars

The Last Witch Hunter is the type of movie I refer to as ‘gloriously goofy.’ This the kind of over-plotted, backstory-heavy, horror/fantasy/sci-fi mash-up that I typically disdain, but this time all the B-movie elements aline and make for a solid guilty pleasure. It seems that every-time star Vin Diesel steps away from his Furious franchise, it’s to appear in a shabby fantasy film. He obviously has an appreciation for the genre, but his contributions like Babylon A.D. and Riddick (2013) have been forgettable trash, The Last Witch Hunter provides Diesel with an appealing character in a film that is slickly directed, and written with more wit and imagination than was probably necessary, especially for the foreign markets that will no-doubt eat this stuff up, with a cast of familiar actors in supporting roles that don’t call for heavy dramatic lifting.
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From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

From Dusk Til Dawn is a tale of two movies, each battling for screen time. Like Grindhouse, this vampire story could have played out in a double feature. Instead the narrative is split into halves, the first is a hostage picture with strong dialogue, the second a horror movie with little talking and lots of visual mayhem. The former section works better than the latter half. The screenplay from scribe Quentin Tarantino is literate and overly violent, not surprising given the writer’s other works. The film’s main problem is in not providing a main character that is sympathetic or likable, the Gecko brothers are raging psychopaths.
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