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Today:  05/21/2018

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

Cocaine

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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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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