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Today:  04/25/2018

Review: 'Backstabbing for Beginners' trades facts for suspense

Posted April 23,2018 - 09:52 AM

Backstabbing

Let's face it. When you're trying to tell a true story for a Hollywood audience, it's very tempting to let fiction creep in to tell a more compelling tale. Take Argo, for example. While the film manages to get the broad strokes correct, the film does take some liberties in the minute machinations of the plot to craft a more exciting film.

The result for Argo was the Oscar for Best Picture. Backstabbing for Beginners will not replicate Argo's awards success, but it follows a familiar blueprint to similar success.

Backstabbing for Beginners tells the true story of the UN's Oil-for-Food Programme (don't ask me why they spelled it that way, I'm sure it's a UN thing) that was set up in 1995 in the wake of the first Gulf War. The Programme ostensibly allowed Iraq to sell oil on the world...

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Review: 'Zombies' is latest Disney feel-good musical

Posted April 20,2018 - 05:09 PM

Zombies

Disney is creating a bit of a cottage industry when it comes to high school musical films. It started with the High School Musical films before they expanded the genre with their intellectual properties in the Descendants films. Now, Disney is stepping out of their comfort zone by introducing Zombies to the mix.

Yes, you read that right. The king of family-family entertainment is dipping its toe into the horror mainstay zombies with its latest high school musical film. Don't worry, it's Disney, so the Zombies are mostly neutered and their penchant for eating brains is only mentioned in passing.

Despite introducing a novel concept (for them) to this film, they didn't really re-invent the wheel when it comes to their highly successful musical films. In fact, they clearly tout the...

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Review: Liam Neeson's 'The Commuter' is a worthy swan song

Posted April 17,2018 - 11:24 AM

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If you had told me a decade ago that in ten years Liam Neeson will be a huge action star, I would have probably laughed in your face. Neeson previously known for his dramatic and droll work in films such as Michael Collins and Schindler's List, never really seemed like the prototypical action star.

But a funny thing happened when Taken was released in 2009. In a single film, Liam Neeson changed the perception of an action star and suddenly the geriatric action genre was born. Following the three Taken films, Neeson teamed up with action director Jaume Collet-Serra for a series of action films that seem a bit derivative.

The Commuter is their fourth (and supposedly last) collaboration and if the story seems familiar, then you've probably seen Unstoppable or Source Code or Non-Stop....

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Review: Christopher Plummer owns 'All the Money in the World'

Posted April 10,2018 - 04:34 PM

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Hollywood lore is filled with stories about actors and actresses passing on legendary roles. Whether it's recently with Emma Watson turning down the lead in La La Land or an all-time miss such as when Jack Nicholson turned down the role of Michael Corleone, these near-misses often lead to spectacular performances from their "understudies."

The situation is a bit different when it comes to All the Money in the World, but the results are pretty much the same.

Kevin Spacey was initially cast as J. Paul Getty in the Ridley Scott film, but when numerous sexual harassment and assault claims started swirling around the actor, his scenes were re-shot with Christopher Plummer set as the billionaire oil man. All of Spacey's scenes were reshot over a week just a month before the film's release....

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Review: 'Gone are the Days' is better than the sum of its parts

Posted April 10,2018 - 03:31 PM

Gonedays

There's a bit of old Hollywood nostalgic love for western films. Whether it's a love for a bygone era of stars such as John Wayne, Clint Eastwood or Gary Cooper or the simpler time of an adolescent country trying to find itself, one thing is clear, western films are popular.

As big studios have turned their backs on the traditional western over the last couple of decades, fans have embraced independent western films as a last-ditch effort to stem off extinction. There have been some wonderful smaller-budget westerns and there have been some not so good movies, but the western spirit has persevered.

On the home entertainment front, western films have always been big business and Gone are the Days should uphold that tradition nicely. An aging outlaw accepts his approaching mortality and...

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Review: Jason Momoa earns his action stripes in 'Braven'

Posted April 10,2018 - 02:22 PM

Braven

When you watch Jason Momoa onscreen, you get a sense that you may be watching a young Dwayne Johnson getting his feet wet. After getting his acting start in the Mummy films, the wrestler-turned-actor had to feel his way through films such as Gridiron Gang and Doom before he transcended to the heights of Hollywood's most bankable action star.

I mean, come on, The Rock was able to bring in over $150 million at the box office for San Andreas.

After bursting onto the scene with Game of Thrones (or with Stargate Atlantis for us nerds out there), Jason Momoa promptly scored a leading role in the DC movie universe as Aquaman. While the stand-alone Aquaman movie won't hit theaters until later this year, Braven gives us an early glimpse at what a Jason Momoa-led action film might look like.

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Review: 'Pinocchio' is familiar and satisfying

Posted April 10,2018 - 11:30 AM

Pinocchio

The 1940 Disney version of Pinocchio has become the go-to version of the moral tale for a myriad of reasons, but that doesn't stop them from making new ones seemingly every year. This latest version of Pinocchio was created in 2012 by an Italian animation house, but it has been re-dubbed with a new cast including Jon Heder and Ambyr Childers.

Given the ubiquity of the Disney version, it's easy to forget that the story first originated as an Italian children's book in the 1880s. Of course, my recent trip to Rome reminded me of this fact as they are quite proud of the wooden doll as evidenced by all of the trinkets in the tourist gift shops.



My kids had seen a few different versions of the Pinocchio tale, but their favorite remains the Disney version. Hey, there's something to...

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Review: 'Condorito' makes well-meaning leap to big screen

Posted April 10,2018 - 10:21 AM

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When making the leap from successful comic strip to feature film, there can be some bumps along the way. Just ask Garfield, Marmaduke or Dennis the Menace. Actually, those films aren't that bad, but after watching them one after another this weekend thanks to my son and HBO Family, I can tell you that these films follow a certain formula to various degrees of success.

Condorito is based on a Chilean comic book and it makes the jump to the big screen that was relatively well-received south of the border, but not so much here in America. While it's possible that some of the humor may have been lost in translation, I think its greatest flaw is the chauvinistic ethos that still runs rampant in the machismo-laden culture in Hispanic countries.

But all of that relates to my experience in...

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Review: 'Puppy Dog Pals' is a fun Disney detour

Posted April 09,2018 - 05:13 PM

Puppydog

Disney has been aggressively targeting the younger set through their original programming on Disney Junior the last few years. We have written about several of their new programs including Elena of Avalor and Vampirina and it seems that Disney can do no wrong - at least by my kids.

The next property is one that is really out there for Disney and perhaps one that signals a change to go after the audiences tuning in to Nick for Blaze and the Monster Machines or the Cartoon Network and Teen Titans Go. That new show is Puppy Dog Pals and it was created by Harland Williams.

Yes, that Harland Williams.

The guy who once drank Jim Carrey's urine in Dumber has created a children's show about two rascally pugs who get into adventures while their owner Bob is at work. The show has nothing to do...

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Review: 'The Last Jedi' fulfills its destiny

Posted March 21,2018 - 04:51 PM

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When Disney bought LucasFilm in 2012, they promised to bring more Star Wars adventures to the big screen and thus far, they have delivered a new film each and every year since. Whether that film is part of the Skywalker story or a stand-alone film, Disney seems to have tapped into the potential of this franchise.

Give the original creator George Lucas plenty of credit, but it was obvious that by the time he got around to making his prequel trilogy, he was unable to recreate that original magic all by himself. Enter Disney, which knows a thing or two about magic, and the rest is history.

Since The Force Awakens debuted in late 2015, only the recently released Black Panther has joined the three new Star Wars films as the only films to surpass $525 million at the U.S. box office. In...

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