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Today:  05/23/2018

Review: 'Early Man' scores for some, but not others

Posted May 22,2018 - 04:34 PM

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Aardman Animations, best known for their Wallace & Gromit stop-motion clay animation features, returned to theaters earlier this year with an original film called Early Man. It seems that Aardman's technique is an acquired taste and one that has had mixed results with my own kids.

While they typically love the Shaun the Sheep stuff, they have been a bit slow to warm to Wallace & Gromit. So, as we sat down to watch Early Man this weekend, I wasn't quite sure what kind of reaction I would get.

Early Man recounts the fictionalized origins of soccer (or futbal as it is known in the rest of the world) during prehistoric times. The story actually spans two distinct periods, the Stone Age and the Bronze Age and is packed with several positive messages about inclusion and teamwork...

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Review: 'Fury' & 'The Patriot' shine on 4K UHD

Posted May 22,2018 - 03:11 PM

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Sony Pictures has always been aggressive when it comes to embracing new technology. They were the first to embrace Blu-ray over rival HD DVD and we all know how that turned out (much better than Sony's choice of Beta over VHS). They have fully embraced 4K UHD Blu-ray and were one of the earliest studios to mine their catalog for films that would be enhanced by the new format.

With Memorial Day just around the corner, Sony dipped into its catalog to bring two movies that highlight different periods of armed conflict involving the United States. The Patriot features a man who is drawn into the American Revolution after initial hesitation when his family is threatened. Meanwhile, Fury follows a Sherman tank crew during the final days of World War II that is looking to make a final strike...

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Review: Marvel shatters expectations with 'Black Panther'

Posted May 15,2018 - 05:08 PM

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I remember watching Iron Man in theaters and being blown away. A decade and 18 films later Marvel is the hottest name in Hollywood and they continue to defy the odds. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has so far grossed in excess of $6.5 billion at the box office (and counting!) with no signs of slowing anytime soon.

To give you an idea of just how impressive this feat is, the next closest franchise, Star Wars, has only grossed a hair over $4 billion to date. Of course, the MCU has 19 films compared to the 10 for Star Wars, but the fact that the MCU can maintain, no grow the box office performance over the last 10 years is amazing.

Black Panther is the highest-grossing MCU film (at least for a few more weeks) and its $696 million performance is good enough for third-best of all...

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Review: Catherine Zeta-Jones is a bold choice for 'Cocaine Godmother'

Posted May 15,2018 - 02:51 PM

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When you think of Welsh beauty Catherine Zeta-Jones, probably the last thing that comes to mind is a Colombian drug dealer allegedly responsible for over 200 deaths, but that's not the case for Lifetime. The popular cable TV channel turned to the incredibly talented Zeta-Jones to portray Griselda Blanco, best known as the Cocaine Godmother, in a made-for-TV movie.

The Welsh aren't particularly known for their ability to tan, so you can start to see some of the issues that arise when Catherine Zeta-Jones is tasked to play someone who grew up basically straddling the equator. But, I will give her credit, Catherine Zeta-Jones does the best that she can with the deck stacked against her and the fact that this film isn't a complete abomination almost solely lies on her shoulders.

...

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Review: 'Fifty Shades Freed' frees the viewer from further sequels

Posted May 08,2018 - 04:34 PM

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About the only good news to take away from Fifty Shades Freed is that the climactic chapter to the steamy sexual awakening series means that the torture is over for leads Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. Better yet, the viewer is spared from any more flimsy plot retreads and painfully awkward dialog exchanges.

At least we hope. Never say never in Hollywood.

Full disclosure, as a 40-something man, I am not anywhere near the target demographic of the Fifty Shades franchise and that's OK. The movies, like the books before them, became a cultural phenomenon for the fairer sex and an outlet for which that we truly haven't seen on this level. Much like the Twilight series upon which the original fan fiction that evolved into Fifty Shades of Grey is based, you either get it or you don't.

I...

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Review: 'Source Code' delivers the goods on 4K UHD

Posted May 08,2018 - 03:06 PM

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In 2011, there were few films that I was more looking forward to than Source Code. When it hit theaters on April Fool's day, the wife and I were newly engaged and our kids were still many months away. We still did foolish things like go out on dates (I know, how crazy?).

One of those dates was to go see this film which was the followup by Duncan Jones to his surprise debut hit Moon. My wife-to-be was game, mostly I think because she favored a young Jake Gyllenhaal at the time, but we both left the theaters in awe of the amazing film that not only challenged our conception of reality but thoroughly entertained us for a good hour and a half.

Oddly, we never went back to watch the film despite owning it on Blu-ray - a tragic byproduct of working in this field. So, when the opportunity to...

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Review: 'Winchester' eschews facts for frights

Posted May 01,2018 - 04:30 PM

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It's funny, just a week or so ago, I used a similar headline for another review that basically chastised the filmmakers for changing parts of a true story to add suspense to the film's narrative. This week, the filmmakers behind Winchester did the same thing, but I'm all for it.

I guess I'm fickle like that.

I think the main difference is that the previous film was based on substantive facts while Winchester is based mainly on folklore and unreliable sources. So, I give the folks behind Winchester a little more leeway with the details in crafting their tale. I mean, when it comes to ghost stories, what's a few fibs between friends?

That being said, I am a huge fan of the Winchester Mystery House, upon which the film is based, so perhaps that's another reason I give them a pass. For...

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Review: 'Van Wilder's antics hold up on Blu-ray

Posted May 01,2018 - 03:42 PM

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Can you believe that it has been almost 16 years since Ryan Reynolds breathed life into Van Wilder? The cult classic comedy helped to springboard Reynolds to fame and introduced an audience to his irreverent style that he would perfect in Deadpool.

So, it's not surprising then that Lionsgate is hoping to take advantage of the upcoming release of Deadpool 2 to sell a few more copies of Van Wilder. But, the real question is does the film hold up to the scrutiny of time or is it simply an anachronistic marker of that period in comedic films?

The answer might surprise you.



I will be honest, I haven't watched the film in its entirety in probably a dozen years or so, but there was a time where I would watch my VHS copy (showing my age) at least once a week. When it came out, I had...

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Review: 'Backstabbing for Beginners' trades facts for suspense

Posted April 23,2018 - 09:52 AM

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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

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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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