Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) – Review

3 Stars

Before the resurgence and eventual domination of the box-office by superheroes, this 1993 animated theatrical release was considered one of the greatest superhero films of all time, regardless of the fact it ran concurrently with the television show. Among fans of the Caped Crusader there was a debate that raged from 1993 to 2005. Is Batman: Mask of the Phantasm better than the live-action films of the Burton/Schumacher era?
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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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10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) – Review

4 Stars

It has become commonplace in recent years to nonchalantly acknowledge (and dismiss) the substantial acting abilities of John Goodman. His ubiquitous appearances in supporting roles over the last decade have cemented the notion that he’s one of our country’s most under-valued talents. Perhaps, with the extremely strong work in 10 Cloverfield Lane, Goodman will finally get attention from the awards circuit.
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Fargo (1996) – Review

4 Stars

The Coen brothers successfully un-shackled themselves as America’s most under-valued filmmakers with the release of Fargo. Having been much adored in cult circles for their work on Raising Arizona, Blood Simple, and numerous other titles–the Coens finally achieved both critical and commercial success with this quirky crime drama that plays like the tonal antithesis of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. The mixture of violence, humor and suspense has rarely been carried off with such ease and efficiency of plot.
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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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Mr. Deeds (2002) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Mr. Deeds makes a critical error and never recovers. It positions Adam Sandler as the straight-man and casts Winona Ryder as the farcical character. This is a terrible miscalculation on the writing level, it locks comedian into a state of reacting to the supposedly humorous behavior of Ryder’s undercover news reporter. Problem is, this isn’t nearly as funny as watching Sandler maneuver through these situation, and Deeds is an angelic simpleton who seems as disinterested in the film’s plot mechanics as Sandler appears to be himself.
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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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