BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 09, 2018  |  1 comments
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War for the Planet of the Apes concludes a trilogy that began with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011. It tells the story of Caesar, from a nascent, intelligent ape to the leader of a band of smart simians. Humankind here has been nearly wiped out, with the survivors fighting to retain their freedom and humanity. In a twist from the classic 1968 original, however, the humans here are the villains, and the apes, fleeing the remnants of an army led by an obsessed, Ahab-like colonel, are the heroes. We’re driven to root for the Apes, from the story’s beginning to its near-biblical conclusion.
John Sciacca  |  Mar 09, 2018  |  0 comments
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Bringing Stephen King novels to the big screen is always fraught with conundrums, the expansive detail not often translating well to film. Condensing the eight Dark Tower novels into a single sub-100 minute movie seemed especially ambitious. The Dark Tower screenwriters plucked bits and pieces from the series, beginning in the middle and crafting a tale from there.

Brandon A. DuHamel  |  Mar 02, 2018  |  1 comments
David Leitch is known mostly as a stunt coordinator on big action films like Tron: Legacy, but for Atomic Blonde he steps behind the camera as the big man in charge to direct an adaptation of the graphic novel series The Coldest City by Antony Johnson and Sam Hart. The movie is fairly dripping in neon and ’80s nostalgia. Charlize Theron stars as sexy Cold War MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton, tasked to go into East Berlin and work with embedded station chief David Percival (James McAvoy) in order to find a sensitive dossier.
Avi Greengart  |  Mar 02, 2018  |  1 comments
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Valerian is director Luc Besson’s passion project: He wrote and directed it based on a French comic book he loved as a child. It’s also the most expensive independent film ever, with a budget of around $180 million. It’s quite the spectacle, and the plot—involving displaced aliens amidst a multi-species space station—could be a reasonable foundation for a sci-fi adventure or sci-noir procedural. Unfortunately, the acting, character development, and dialogue are simply terrible. Ironically, the only believable character is a shape-shifting burlesque dancer played by Rihanna.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 23, 2018  |  0 comments
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In the original Cars, from 2006, hotshot racecar Lightning McQueen learned to be a gracious winner but a winner nonetheless. In Cars 2, Pixar learned that they could produce a less than sparkling sequel. Now, in Cars 3, the second Disney-Pixar property to produce a threequel (after Toy Story 3), McQueen is getting older, losing his edge, and suffering both losses and trash talk from newer, sleeker, faster racers. But he goes back into training, gets up to speed (so to speak), and is on the verge of motoring back to the top when….OK, you don’t expect spoilers, do you?
David Vaughn  |  Feb 23, 2018  |  0 comments
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Being a bodyguard is a tough business, but Michael Bryce was at one time considered the best, earning him the distinction of being a triple-A executive protection agent. Unfortunately, if you lose a client, your life will take a turn for the worse, which is exactly what happened to Bryce when he wasn’t able to successfully protect a distinguished Japanese client. Two years have gone by, and in order to make a living, he’s resorted to protecting second-class clients—like lawyers.
David Vaughn  |  Feb 16, 2018  |  0 comments
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This is the classic story of boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, girl wakes up one day and realizes she loves boy and can’t live without him. Will daddy approve? Not likely since the boy comes from the group that daddy is trying to wipe off the face of the Earth, so the young couple must overcome long odds to live happily ever after. Although there’s a twist here that you don’t often see—the boy is a zombie who can’t even remember his name other than it begins with an R.
Chris Chiarella  |  Feb 16, 2018  |  0 comments
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Sometimes even Batman can’t go it alone. When Poison Ivy teams with an evil alien plant-man for a scheme that could doom every human being on the planet, he first turns to Nightwing (sidekick Robin, now all grown up), but even that’s not enough. Their best hope of stopping these baddies in time is to team with Ivy’s lone confidante, Harley Quinn.
David Vaughn  |  Feb 09, 2018  |  0 comments
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A dangerous crime wave hits the beach as legendary Lt. Mitch Buchannon leads his squad of lifeguards on a mission to prove you don’t have to wear a badge to save the day—despite being told to keep away from the trouble by both the police and his boss. Along for the ride are a trio of new recruits including former Olympian Matt Brody, who made the cut because of the positive PR he will bring to the team. To find the mastermind, the team must break some rules, go undercover, and put their careers in jeopardy to keep the beach safe from nefarious business interests.
Brandon A. DuHamel  |  Feb 09, 2018  |  2 comments
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Forget about the Mummy movies starring Brendan Fraser, which kicked off in 1999 and launched their own spinoffs. This version of The Mummy is in fact a reboot of Universal’s vaunted Classic Monsters franchises of the 1930s onward. Although it is meant to be a horror flick, this Tom Cruise vehicle directed by Alex Kurtzman—known more for his writing on TV series like Hawaii Five-0 than for directing—is less about horror than it is about big action set pieces.
Brandon A. DuHamel  |  Feb 02, 2018  |  4 comments
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Ridley Scott’s stunning dystopian allegory about the meaning of life, where technology ends and humanity begins, Blade Runner—from the Philip K. Dick cyberpunk novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?—draws from many influences. Perhaps the strongest are the classic Fritz Lang film Metropolis and the Heavy Metal sci-fi magazines of the 1970s. The story follows gruff lawman Deckard (Harrison Ford) chasing androids called “replicants” that are nearly indistinguishable from humans.
Josef Krebs  |  Feb 02, 2018  |  0 comments
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Based the novel by E. M. Forster, Maurice is a groundbreaking room with a different view, projecting as much romance, passion, and class consciousness as producer Ismael Merchant and screenwriter-director James Ivory brought to their earlier hit adaptation of another Forster novel. In 1909, a student at Cambridge, Clive, urges college colleague Maurice to embrace the love of male physical beauty as described in classical literature and accept their mutual platonic love.
Josef Krebs  |  Jan 26, 2018  |  0 comments
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Shot on a budget of $5 million, acquired for $12 million, and promoted with a $20-million marketing budget, The Big Sick grossed $50 million worldwide and claimed much acclaim. For me, The Big Sick initially came across as The Big Suck, but on a second, more sobering screening, it made sense, building from the characters’ youthful shallowness to emotional growth into something like near-human depth.
David Vaughn  |  Jan 26, 2018  |  0 comments
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When an extraterrestrial being is left behind on Earth, he befriends a 10-year-old boy named Elliott who, as luck would have it, is in dire need to be loved and wanted. He’s the middle of three children, and his parents’ recent divorce has put a strain on the household. The pair share a bond that leads to some trouble at school for Elliott, but in the end, E.T. just wants one thing—to go home—and Elliott and his family are more than willing to help this happen.
Fred Kaplan  |  Jan 19, 2018  |  1 comments
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When I first saw Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, as a college student, I was bored and, beyond that, puzzled: such a static set piece from the maker of Dr. Strangelove, 2001, and A Clockwork Orange. I wasn’t alone: Box office was middlin’, critics were mixed. The film now strikes me as a masterpiece, although a demanding one, as many masterpieces are. Based on Thackeray’s mid-19th-century novel about the rise and fall of an Irish upstart seeking to connive his way into British high society, it’s a string of gorgeous pictures, as gorgeous as many paintings in a museum, and Kubrick modeled many shots on paintings by Hogarth, Gainsborough, and other artists of the era.

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