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Review: “Death Wish” is a Clunky Mess of Guns-Gushing Insanity

I always admired Death Wish more as an oddity than a genuinely great action picture. It’s a little hard to become invested in a film series known for gratuitous amounts of graphic violence and rape, many times in the same scene. And while the Death Wish remake thankfully avoids become the exploitation mess it could have been, the film is …

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annihilation movie

Review: “Annihilation” is Trippy Transcendence

Alex Garland proved he knows how to conceive smart, gorgeous, and intense science fiction with Ex Machina, but with Annihilation, he demonstrates that he isn’t just a flash-in-the-plan director. His follow-up film contains another heaping dose of profound characters, intelligent dialogue, and enough gorgeous and psychedelic sci-fi imagery to make the eyes refuse to blink. Even though Garland’s film is …

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Black Panther

Review: “Black Panther” Packs the Biggest Punch of the MCU

If Marvel’s Thor was a watered down Shakespeare with a surfer glaze, Black Panther is the real deal. It’s a tale of kingdoms and ancestors, where men of sordid family histories battle for the throne. At the same time, it’s also a James Bond film of gadgets, casinos, and chases with sexy cars. But, wait, it’s also profoundly political and …

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Review: “The 15:17 to Paris” Stops More Often Then Starts

The story of three Americans who stopped a terrorist on a train in 2015 is a heroic one. But is it noble enough to be worthy of a film? While director Clint Eastwood indeed finds enough character in the three heroes and plenty of high drama in the violent encounter they faced, there’s undeniable padding to fluff this story up …

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Review: ‘The Insult’ Brings National Tension to a Contemplative Court

The conflict of The Insult begins over a drainpipe. The Lebanese Christian Tony (Adel Karam) has a faulty drain on his deck that is spilling water onto construction workers. The foreman, Palestinian refugee Yasser (Kamel El Basha), offers to repair it so his crew won’t be splashed. Tony refuses. Yasser fixes it anyway, only for Tony to smash the pipe. …

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12 Strong

Review: 12 Strong Tells Compelling Story With Formulaic Delivery

A story so remarkable as that of twelve American soldiers beating tanks and missiles with little more than horses and guns deserves a spotlight. It certainly deserves a better film than what Nicolai Fuglsig could provide. He plays it way too safe with staging a based-on-a-true-story military action film, throwing in all the tropes of a typical action blockbuster. But …

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Review: “The Commuter” Doesn’t Steer Too Far Off The Rails

I’ve often cited director Jaume Collet-Serra as the director of the “better” Liam Neeson action films. He places Neeson in thrilling scenarios that are not exactly original, but still simmering with excitement. The Commuter is no different, maintaining Jaume’s ability never to surprise, but never bore. You’re not wrong if you thought this movie was just Jaume and Neeson’s previous …

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Review: “The Greatest Showman” is a Musical Most Mild

A big mistake was made with The Greatest Showman in how the posters came billed with music by the lyricists of La La Land, last year’s musical Oscar-contender. The excellent use of jazz and classic Hollywood dance numbers gave La La Land a splash of original energy and wonder. By comparison, The Greatest Showman is a mere fizzle of that …

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Review: The Draining Charm of ‘Insidious: The Last Key’

When I last left Insidious with its third chapter, I noted how this horror series finally found its groove in Lin Shaye playing a kick-butt psychic Elise with her lovable ghost-hunting duo of Tucker (Angus Sampson) and Specs (Leigh Whannell) in tow. But The Last Key seems to settle in almost too comfortable with its characters. For a story that …

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the darkest hour.

Review: ‘The Darkest Hour’ Is Gary Oldman’s Brightest Performance

You do have to look twice at Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour to believe that is Gary Oldman. Director Joe Wright gives us plenty of time to examine Oldman’s performance, drawing the camera so close to his face we can see the glint in his eyes. Though the film doesn’t feature anything else of such stellar qualities, it doesn’t …

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