The Man with the Iron Fists 2 (2015) – Review

2 Stars

I must (once again) recount that in college, I had a roommate who watched Bruce Lee movies with the sound turned off while blaring hip-hop music at the same time. Through a haze of bong smoke he had convinced himself that the music was timed perfectly to the on-screen action and emotion. The Man with the Iron Fists perfectly encapsulated that experience, now three years later the follow-up has arrived, and it is a lesser film from a more established director.
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Eight Men Out (1988) – Review

4 Stars

What is it about the sport of Baseball that so easily translates to the screen? If you were to make a list of the best sports movies of all-time, I’m positive movies about baseball would comprise the majority of the spots. On that proverbial list, would surely be John Sayles’ excellent film Eight Men Out. This is a picture as concerned with organized crime, greed, workers unions, and sports writers as much as it has to do with the game itself. From the opening shot of a young boy running through the crowed streets of Chicago circa 1919 on his way to the ballpark to catch the White Sox, Sayles establishes an authoritative tone on the story, which is told with clarity, and a level of sympathy towards the outcast players.
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Run All Night (2015) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Liam Neeson continues his late career resurgence as an action hero in the glossy, and violent thriller, Run All Night. We are now seven years removed from the first Taken picture, had this movie been release just a few years ago, instead of on the heels of nearly a dozen similar Neeson outings, maybe then it would seem less like a genre retread. Even the estimable work from venerable screen legend Ed Harris as an unusually thoughtful crime boss, is lost in the heavy-handed and frantic narrative.
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The Factory (2012) – Review

3 Stars

John Cusack has recently found himself stranded in the wasteland of direct-to-DVD fare, and it may be faint praise, but he has consistently chosen the top project in the second tier realm of filmmaking. The Factory has been released as part of the Dark Castle/Warner Bros pact, specializing in genre pictures with recognizable cast members and violent story lines. This is an implausible, yet entertaining police procedural that packs a well-deserved surprise ending.
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Starship Troopers (1997) – Review

4 Stars

Starship Troopers’ middling performance at the box-office in the winter of 1997, is one of the more puzzling failures in the modern era of sci-fi blockbusters. This is a film made with intelligence, wit, a sardonic sense of humor, laced with homage and satire, and equipped with astounding special effects. That is to say there is something for everyone in this extremely engaging futuristic war tale. Rebounding from the debacle of Showgirls, director Paul Verhoeven delivers another classic to the genre, which would also serve as the last good film in a career of varying degrees of success.
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The Cherokee Kid (1996) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The Cherokee Kid can’t decided if it’s a comedy, satire, or straight-up revenge picture. Sinbad, the comedian popular for a short spell in the 1990s headlines this western that features a predominately african-american cast. He plays the title role of The Cherokee Kid, known as Isiah Turner before he earned the outlaw’s moniker ‘kid’. Featuring a large cast of well-known actors and scripted by writers Tim Kazurinsky & Denise DeClue, the movie never engages the viewer resulting in a seemingly endless 89 minutes running time.
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Chappie (2015) – Review

2 Stars

Chappie is South African director Neill Blomkamp’s third film. It is the most technically impressive work of his young career, but the story, which blatantly borrows from classics of the genre, fails him and renders the movie into a series of redundant scenes and predictable outcomes. By the mid-way point, I was ready for Chappie and his outcast cohorts to go away.
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Focus (2015) – Review

3 Stars

Focus tells a story that could only transpire in the movies. This is a tale of con artists but it’s told with the same cool detachment that tonally defined other similar adult themed capers like Out of Sight and The Thomas Crown Affair. It also share a romanticized view of criminals that was so prevalent in those titles too. Sure, the main characters are thieves but they are portrayed as cool — too cool, in fact, for this low-key film to develop much heat.
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One Night in Istanbul (2014) – Review

2 Stars

One Night in Istanbul is a sly sports comedy, masquerading as British farce with an overdose of sentimentality and violence mixed in. I thought America had cornered the market on sports themed dopey comedy-drama crime capers but it appears that the foreign market is just as ripe with these duds. It’s somewhat mystifying that this messy script was concocted from a well-regarded screenplay from playwright Nicky Allt. This is an innocuous movie, which is about the last thing you’d expect when dealing with sports fanaticism, and the mafia. Other movies have covered similar material with a higher energy level and sharper sense of wit than what is presented on-screen here.
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