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Review: Shane Black's 'The Predator' Hunts for a Story, Heads Home Empty-Handed

The Predator Review

There's a line in 1987's original Predator movie that sums up the machismo and bravado of '80s action cinema. Blain, played by professional wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura, is a member of an elite military rescue team on a mission to save hostages in guerrilla-held territory. In the aftermath of a jungle-leveling firefight, a fellow soldier informs Blain, "You're hit. You're bleeding, man." With a plug of chewing tobacco in his jaw, the gruff, cocksure commando ripostes, "I ain't got time to bleed." Written by brothers Jim and John Thomas and directed by John McTiernan (of Die Hard), Predator grossed $98 million in its initial release, cementing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s box office bona fides and turning its eponymous antagonist, an extraterrestrial trophy hunter designed by special make-up effects creator Stan Winston, into a sci-fi icon.

 Posted September 13 in Review, Sci-Fi | Comments

Review: Turteltaub's 'The Meg' Movie is Fun, Dumb, and Full of Chum

The Meg Review

After seeing Steven Spielberg's Jaws as a teenager, Steve Alten went straight to his local public library and checked out every book he could find on great white sharks. In those texts, he stumbled upon a black-and-white photo (seen here) of scientists seated in the massive, reconstructed jaw of a megalodon — the prehistoric cousin of the Great White shark, believed to have been extinct for more than two million years. The image of a 75-foot-long shark that could swallow a Volkswagen whole never left Alten's mind, and 22 years later he published his first novel, Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, a science-fiction horror story about a prehistoric megalodon shark that rises from the depths of the Mariana Trench to hunt once again.

 Posted August 10 in Review | Comments

Review: McQuarrie's 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' is a Megaton Blast

Mission: Impossible - Fallout Review

Directed by Brian De Palma and starring Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible was a critical and commercial success when it opened in May of 1996. Based on the 1960s CBS series of the same name, the action-packed spy thriller grossed $75 million in its first six days, surpassing the record set by Jurassic Park, and became the third highest-grossing film of that year, bested only by Twister and Independence Day. Two decades later, the Mission: Impossible series has grossed more than $2.8 billion worldwide, becoming one of the most successful franchises in movie history. The latest installment, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, is written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who helmed the last entry in the series, 2015's Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation. Cruise returns for his sixth assignment in the role of Impossible Missions Force (IMF) team leader Ethan Hunt, but does he accomplish anything, or is the follow-up set to self-destruct?

 Posted July 26 in Review | Comments

Review: Thurber's 'Skyscraper' is a Towering Achievement in Absurdity

Skyscraper Review

With box office receipts exceeding $3 billion around the world so far, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has solidified himself as a global box office powerhouse. In recent years, the wrestler-turned-actor has earned a reputation as the hardest working man in Hollywood, starring in hits like Central Intelligence, Moana, The Fate of the Furious, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle from last fall. Even his misses are still massive successes — both San Andreas and Rampage earned over $400 million worldwide, despite underwhelming critical response. Now, only three months after his last theatrical release, Johnson continues his shock-and-awe campaign for box office supremacy with the action-packed, Hong Kong-set skyscraper disaster film Skyscraper; further testament to the movie star's enduring commitment to quantity over quality.

 Posted July 12 in Review | Comments

Review: Marvel's 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' is Big Fun in a Small Package

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Marvel Comics first introduced the character of Ant-Man in 1962 with the publication of Tales to Astonish #27. The insect-controlling, half-inch hero later appeared in Avengers #1 alongside his partner-in-crime, the Wasp, as founding members of the team. It wasn't until 2015, however, that the iconic duo made their big screen debut in director Peyton Reed's heist comedy, Ant-Man. Well, sort of. In the movie, the original Ant-Man, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), resurrects the hero and handpicks good-natured thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) to don the suit. Pym's daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) is set to become the Wasp by the movie's end, but we never actually see her in action. Enter Ant-Man and the Wasp, the twentieth installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), once again directed by Peyton Reed.

 Posted July 5 in Marvel, Review | Comments

Review: J.A. Bayona's 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' is Silly, Cruel, and Entirely Unpalatable

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Review

Steven Spielberg's 1993 film, Jurassic Park, opened to critical and commercial success, earning over $914 million worldwide to become the top grossing movie ever at the time. More importantly, it impressed the hell out of an eight-year-old with an intense interest in prehistoric creatures. As a kid, I would spend hours pouring over books from the library, learning all I could about Ankylosaurus, Plesiosaurus, and Triceratops. I watched every dinosaur movie I could find: Caveman, Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend, The Land Before Time. They were the closest I could get to seeing living, breathing dinosaurs. Until Jurassic Park, that is. Spielberg's exhilarating masterwork of sustained awe and adventure ignited my imagination and made the impossible possible by resurrecting these long-extinct wonders with honest-to-goodness movie magic.

 Posted June 21 in Review, Sci-Fi | Comments

Review: Ari Aster's Horror Film 'Hereditary' is Unsettling & Inescapable

Hereditary Review

One in five Americans experiences some form of mental illness, with one in 25 suffering severe illness, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, or dissociative identity disorder (DID). For years, the horror genre has exploited these psychiatric disorders for shock value, perpetuating myths and stereotypes along the way. Movies like Psycho, Halloween, and Silence of the Lambs use mental illness as the motivation for the antagonist's violent behavior. More recently, films like The Taking of Deborah Logan and The Visit have used neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's as a conduit for evil deeds. With Hereditary, A24's new horror film, writer/director Ari Aster explores the darkest depths of mental illness and familial tragedy to create a profoundly disquieting moviegoing experience that stays with you long after the closing credits.

 Posted June 6 in Horror, Review | Comments

Review: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' is a Fun, Fast-Paced Space Adventure

Solo: A Star Wars Story Review

The "Star Wars Expanded Universe" – Lucasfilm's stockpile of officially licensed books, comics, video games, television series, spin-off films, and other media created outside of the official canon – began with the 1978 novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye. Written by Alan Dean Foster, the direct sequel to George Lucas's original 1977 film drew inspiration from early drafts of the script. In 1979, author Brian Daley expanded the universe further with Han Solo at Stars' End, the first in a trilogy of Solo-centric adventures (which would later be turned into comic books). For over 35 years, the EU gave Star Wars fans what they wanted most – more Star Wars – even if the stories and character developments weren't considered canon by the creator.

 Posted May 23 in Review, Sci-Fi, Star Wars | Comments

Review: 'Deadpool 2' is More of the Same & That's Mostly a Good Thing

Deadpool 2 Review

After playing an ill-conceived faux-Deadpool in 2008’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ryan Reynolds spent years petitioning 20th Century Fox to give the beloved Marvel character the raunchy, irreverent big-screen treatment he deserves. He succeeded. In February 2016, Tim Miller's Deadpool debuted with the biggest R-rated opening of all time. It would go on to become the highest-grossing R-rated film in history with a global box office of more than $750 million in total. A hit with both moviegoers and critics alike, Deadpool's massive success made a sequel inevitable, but does Deadpool 2 live up to the enormous expectations of its rabid fan base, or does it do to sequel cinema what Limp Bizkit did to music in the late '90s?

 Posted May 16 in Marvel, Review | Comments

Review: 'Avengers: Infinity War' is an Unprecedented Achievement in Blockbuster Filmmaking

Avengers: Infinity War Review

From Marvel Studios stalwarts Anthony Russo and Joe Russo comes Avengers: Infinity War, the third installment in the Avengers franchise and 19th Marvel Studios film to date. The movie marks the 10-year anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which began with the release of Jon Favreau's Iron Man in 2008. Starring Robert Downey Jr. as billionaire philanthropist playboy Tony Stark, the very first Iron Man movie was a worldwide phenomenon and would serve as the foundation from which Marvel Studios would build an empire. Ten years later, Marvel Studios has opened a record-breaking 18 consecutive movies at #1, with five grossing over $1 billion, and a combined total of over $13 billion at the worldwide box office. To say Avengers: Infinity War has been eagerly anticipated would be an understatement. But does this film, a decade in the making with unprecedented hype, live up to fan fervor and unrealistic expectations?

 Posted April 26 in Marvel, Review | Comments

Review: Spielberg's 'Ready Player One' is a World of Pure Imagination

Ready Player One Review

In a legendary career spanning more than four decades, Steven Spielberg changed the film industry with his influential science fiction and adventure movies. Timeless films, such as Jaws (1975), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Jurassic Park (1993), are revered as archetypes of contemporary Hollywood escapist cinema. Along with other pop culture touchstones of the era, like Star Wars (1977) and Superman: The Motion Picture (1978), Spielberg's movies paved the way for the massive blockbusters that now dominate the box office year-round. With his new film, the unabashedly entertaining Ready Player One, Spielberg adapts author Ernie Cline's NY Times bestseller, a love letter to the 1980s that would not exist without the director's unparalleled output.

 Posted March 29 in Review, Sci-Fi | Comments

Review: Legendary's 'Pacific Rim: Uprising' is a Blast from the Breach

Pacific Rim: Uprising

In Guillermo del Toro's 2013 movie, Pacific Rim, a dimensional rift opened at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and through it emerged Kaiju, giant monsters engineered by the alien Precursors to move between dimensions and terraform planets. The Kaiju unleashed their fury on cities along the Pacific Rim and proved virtually unstoppable with conventional weapons. Gigantic humanoid mechas called Jaegers — piloted by humans connected via a neural bridge — were engineered to fight back. Jaeger Gipsy Danger, piloted by Raleigh Becket and Mako Mori, successfully closed the rift by detonating a bomb, aided by legendary Jaeger Marshal Stacker Pentecost, who gave his life to ensure the success of the mission. Ten years after the Battle of the Breach, the oceans have become restless once again. Enter Pacific Rim: Uprising, the sequel directed by Steven S. DeKnight (Marvel's "Daredevil") and starring John Boyega as Pentecost's son.

 Posted March 25 in Review, Sci-Fi | Comments

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