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Review: Snyder's 'Justice League' Has Few Bright Spots, Mostly Dim

Justice League Review

Director Zack Snyder's Superman reboot, Man of Steel, received mostly positive reviews when it released in 2013, but ultimately underperformed at the box office. The second entry in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), Snyder's sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, encountered an overwhelmingly negative response from critics and lukewarm audience sentiment, despite making $873 million. Similarly, the third film in the franchise, David Ayer's Suicide Squad, wound up with terrible reviews but still surpassed expectations. Everything changed this year, when Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman received widespread critical acclaim and overwhelming audience support, becoming one of the best-reviewed superhero movies of all time and the highest-grossing superhero origin movie in history. Now, Justice League hopes to ride Wonder Woman's coattails and deliver a fun, hopeful film that lives up to the legacy of the iconic superhero

 Posted November 15 in DC Movies, Review | Comments

Review: Branagh's 'Murder on the Orient Express' is Old-Fashioned and Stiflingly Stodgy

Murder on the Orient Express Review

First published in 1934, Agatha Christie's novel, Murder on the Orient Express, is considered one of the most suspenseful and thrilling mysteries ever written. The book, which concerns the murder of a wealthy businessman aboard a luxury train, features one of Christie's most famous & long-lived characters, detective Hercule Poirot. The Belgian sleuth with a magnificent mustache has appeared in more than 30 novels and 50 short stories and has been portrayed on radio, in film, and on TV by various actors, including Albert Finney, Sir Peter Ustinov, Tony Randall, Alfred Molina, Orson Welles, and David Suchet. Now, 83 years after its debut, Murder on the Orient Express receives another lavish, star-studded film adaptation, this time by actor-turned-director Kenneth Branagh (Henry V, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein), who also stars.

 Posted November 9 in Review | Comments

Review: Waititi's 'Thor: Ragnarok' is a Heavy Metal, Viking Adventure

Thor: Ragnarok Review

Created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, Thor first appeared in 1962's comic Journey Into Mystery #83, a sci-fi anthology published by Marvel Comics. Based on the Norse deity of the same name, Thor is the God of Thunder and possesses Mjolnir, an enchanted hammer. A year later, Thor was included in The Avengers #1 as a founding member of the team, and the character has since appeared in every subsequent volume of the series. As a result, Thor has become one of Marvel's most popular and enduring superheroes, featured in countless comics, animated series, video games, and live-action films. Played by Chris Hemsworth, Thor has appeared in five Marvel Cinematic Universe movies - including Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and a cameo at the end of Doctor Strange. His latest cinematic outing, Thor: Ragnarok, looks to set a new standard for not just the Thor series, but the rest of the MCU as well.

 Posted November 2 in Marvel, Review | Comments

Review: Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner 2049' is Emotionally Affecting, Artificially Intelligent

Blade Runner 2049

Based on the Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Ridley Scott's 1982 science fiction thriller, Blade Runner, introduced audiences to a dystopian future where synthetic humans, known as Replicants, are bio-engineered for use in off-world colonization. When these Replicants go rogue, special police units called Blade Runners hunt down and "retire" them. Despite its initial lukewarm critical and commercial reception, Blade Runner has become one of the most influential movies of the last 40 years, pioneering what became an entirely new genre: neo-noir cyberpunk. 35 years later, thanks to subsequent releases like the 1992 Director's Cut and the definitive 2007 Final Cut, Scott's film is now heralded as a groundbreaking visionary masterpiece and one of the most important motion pictures ever made.

 Posted October 5 in Review, Sci-Fi | Comments

Review: Vaughn's 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' is James Bond on Crank

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Review

Based on the acclaimed comic book by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar, 2015's Kingsman: The Secret Service was a crass, tongue-in-cheek tribute to the spy films of the '60s and '70s. Co-written and directed by English filmmaker Matthew Vaughn (of Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class), the stylish and subversive send-up became the filmmaker's most commercially successful film to date. Enter the highly anticipated sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, a movie so overblown and preposterous that it feels less like On Her Majesty's Secret Service and more like the deranged lovechild of Austin Powers and Crank.

 Posted September 21 in Review | Comments

Review: Muschietti's 'It' Effortlessly Blends Horror, Humor, and Heart

Muschietti's It Review

Inspired by Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, and EC Comics' Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror, Stephen King carved a path for himself as the world's foremost writer of horror fiction throughout the '70s and '80s. By the time his novel It was published in 1986, many of King's best-selling books had already been adapted into successful films, including Carrie, The Shining, Cujo, The Dead Zone, and Christine. With the ambitious It, however, King's work shifted shape, much like the novel's titular evil entity haunting a small town in Maine. Instead of writing about the one thing that scared you, like a rabid dog or a demonic car, this time he was writing about everything that did - the very nature of fear itself.

 Posted September 7 in Horror, Review | Comments

Review: 'Brigsby Bear' is a True Love Letter to Fandom & Filmmaking

Brigsby Bear Review

The beloved sketch comedy group Good Neighbor was originally formed in 2007 by Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, Nick Rutherford, and Dave McCary. The comedians racked up millions of YouTube hits with their offbeat and uncomfortable sketch videos, including such notable standouts as "My Mom's a MILF", "Is My Roommate Gay?", "420 Disaster," and "Unbelievable Dinner," based on Steven Spielberg's Hook. In 2013, Mooney and Bennett joined Saturday Night Live as featured players along with McCary, who stayed behind the camera as a segment director. Now Mooney and McCary are transitioning to the big screen with the indie comedy Brigsby Bear, a feature-length narrative about friendship, family, and nostalgia that deftly blends humor and heart to create something that is both odd and oddly affectionate.

 Posted August 17 in Indies, Review | Comments

Review: Luc Besson's 'Valerian' Wastes Visual Splendor on So-So Storytelling

Valerian Review

Written and directed by Luc Besson (of Léon: The Professional, La Femme Nikita, and Lucy), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is based on the Valérian and Laureline graphic novel series by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières. First published in 1967 in the French comics magazine, Pilote, the seminal science fiction series paved the way for Heavy Metal, and informed George Lucas' Star Wars and Besson's 1997 film, The Fifth Element, for which Mézières contributed concept art. The live-action adaptation, independently crowd-sourced and personally funded by Besson, is supposedly now the most expensive independent film ever made, but does it live up to its influential source material?

 Posted July 21 in Review, Sci-Fi | Comments

Review: 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' is the Best Spider-Man Movie Yet

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

Created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko, Spider-Man first appeared in 1962's Amazing Fantasy #15, an anthology series published by Marvel Comics. The character's origin story goes something like this: Midtown High's only professional wallflower, Peter Parker, becomes a web-slinging "wall-crawler" when he is bitten by a radioactive spider and acquires the proportionate strength and agility of an arachnid. 55 years later, Spider-Man has become one of the most popular superheroes ever, inspiring countless comics, cartoons, video games, and not one but two film franchises: Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy (2002-2007) and Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man series (2012-2014). Those movies, produced and distributed by Sony, have their moments, but ultimately fail to deliver a definitive take on the character. Enter the appropriately titled Spider-Man: Homecoming, a new film co-produced by Marvel Studios proving third time's the charm.

 Posted July 6 in Marvel, Review | Comments

Review: Edgar Wright's 'Baby Driver' is an Act of Clockwork Precision

Baby Driver Review

The British writer-director behind the "Three Flavours Cornetto" trilogy – consisting of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World's End (2013) – and also the director behind 2010's Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Edgar Wright, is known for his unique, kinetic, energetic cinematic style. Unlike most comedy directors working today, Wright finds humor in the filmmaking, utilizing framing, lighting, mise-en-scène, camera movement, editing, and sound to pull as much comedy out of a scene as possible. With his latest film, Baby Driver, Wright has not only improved upon his signature style, but matured with it.

 Posted June 26 in Review | Comments

Review: Shults' Horror 'It Comes At Night' Deals in Existential Anxiety

It Comes At Night Review

Up-and-coming filmmaker Trey Edward Shults follows his acclaimed debut film Krisha with It Comes At Night, a psychological horror thriller centering on a teenage boy (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) as he faces mounting terrors — both external and internal — in the aftermath of an unnamed apocalypse. Surviving in a secluded, fortress-like home with his two parents, Paul (played by Joel Edgerton) and Sarah (played by Carmen Ejogo, also in Alien: Covenant), 17-year-old Travis is overwhelmed by fear, grief, and uncertainty after losing his grandfather to a mysterious plague responsible for the collapse of human civilization.

 Posted June 8 in Horror, Movie News | Comments

Review: Patty Jenkins' 'Wonder Woman' Embodies Power and Grace

Wonder Woman Review

Created by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter, Wonder Woman first appeared in 1941's All Star Comics #8 published by DC. Marston, a Tufts University psychology professor, drew inspiration for the superhero demigoddess from early feminists like Ethel Byrne and Margaret Sanger, who founded the American Birth Control League, which later became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The physical appearance of the character was influenced by Byrne's daughter, Olive, who was Marston's research assistant before becoming romantically involved with the polyamorous professor and his wife.* For more than 75 years since her introduction, Wonder Woman has been an enduring symbol of strength and equality.

 Posted June 1 in DC Movies, Review | Comments

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