Review: Joel Edgerton's 'The Gift' is a Serious and Surprising Success

Joel Edgerton's The Gift Review

There's a very frank, spoiler-filled discussion I'd like to have with Joel Edgerton about The Gift. His directorial debut, for which he also wrote the script, is intense, and loaded with surprises and ambiguity. More serious drama than suspenseful thriller, the film serves as a cautionary tale about… well, that's just one of those many surprises Edgerton has in store for his audience. Dripping with darkness, The Gift only delves into horror on foreboding tone alone, and the choices made by its characters are very real with real consequences. Edgerton's screenplays have always analyzed human choices we make and the results of our actions, and, with The Gift, he offers a daring, satisfying depiction of one's past coming back to haunt them.

 Posted August 7 in Review | Comments

Review: 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' is Perfect Blockbuster Action

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Review

The first time we see Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation he's running. Of course, he's running. The only activity the physically impressive actor does in this franchise more than run is perform insane, death-defying stunts. Like hang off the side of a plane as it takes off. Don't worry. That comes shortly after the running. This is all to say that Rogue Nation knows where the strengths of its franchise lie. It has taken five films, but the people behind these films have cracked the formula. While the narrative appears to coast on auto-pilot, it's execution makes for Grade A, blockbuster entertainment, an exhilarating cap to the Summer, movie season. No, Fantastic Four was not forgotten. I mean what I say.

 Posted July 31 in Review | Comments

Review: Standard But Hard-Hitting Punches Delivered By 'Southpaw'


Imagine taking a punch from a professional-grade boxer. I'm not talking about one of those Mayweather jabs from out of nowhere that leave you woozy. The kind of hit I'm talking about is a George Foreman-sized power hook that you see coming from a mile down the road, but the broad sweep and sheer power behind the man's fist stuns you even before it knocks flat out. Southpaw, the latest film directed by Antoine Fuqua and the first feature written by Kurt Sutter, offers up that latter type of punch. A gritty sports drama blended with Sutter's level of hard-hitting melodrama, the film digs in exactly where you expect, but it does so in all the right ways. Southpaw is as subtle as a haymaker, but, damn, if it doesn't hit just as hard.

 Posted July 24 in Review | Comments

Review: Marvel's 'Ant-Man' Stands In Some Pretty Big Footprints

Marvel's Ant-Man

Marvel's Ant-Man could have been the strangest superhero movie to date. The comic character who can shrink himself down to minuscule sizes - and, in the comics, blow himself up to gigantic heights - and has a telekinetic link to our ant population had countless avenues in which to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Our minds could have been blown despite the inundation of superhero stories since Spider-Man first leapt onto the screen 13 years ago. Instead, fun as it might be, the Ant-Man we get is a basic, hardly-any-frills, comic book origin story. Its potential for strangeness aside, the movie delivers on all the surface-level excitement & adventure you've come to expect from Marvel. You just expect a bit more, as well.

 Posted July 17 in Marvel, Review | Comments

Review: 'Magic Mike XXL' Surpasses the Original on Every Last Stage

Magic Mike XXL Review

Channing Tatum is America's sweetheart. All he does is win, win, win. Even when you think he has taken on a dud or a sequel that couldn't possibly live up to the original, he and the films in which he performs have a way of shocking you with excitement. This is true, as well, of Magic Mike XXL, a sequel to Tatum's coming out party to Hollywood stardom and a film that, biggest shock of them all, surpasses its predecessor. Smarter, sexier, and cooler, Magic Mike XXL is an invigorating piece of entertainment, a solid dramedy about friends and coworkers – even if those coworkers are fellow, male strippers – and a relevant and honest look at the current state of the sexes. Most important of all, it's a better film than the first one.

 Posted July 1 in Review | Comments

Review: Fun, Idiotic 'Terminator Genisys' Can't Do Its Franchise Justice

Terminator Genisys Review

Heavy on hardware and low on CPU, Terminator Genisys blasts onto the screen marking the return of one of the action genre's kings, both in terms of star power and franchise. The fifth film in the series, there doesn't seem like much room to continue expanding on the inevitable war between man & machine. If that's your thinking, you've forgotten about the wonders a little time travel can do for a blockbuster franchise. You're also forgetting this is 2015, and the mantra of "bigger is always better" is in full swing. It's a shame that bigger usually means dumber, too. Terminator Genisys is both, briskly limping along the rails its idiotic script has laid down for it. Not even Arnold, welcome return as he is, can justify this film's presence.

 Posted July 1 in Review, SciFi | Comments

Review: 'Ted 2' Gets Lost in the History of Real, American Change

Ted 2 Review

I struggled putting together a satisfactory, opening paragraph about Ted 2. Struggled. Usually if that's the case, it means the rest of the review will be a nice run through a mud-field of narrative connections and sludgy adjectives… like "sludgy." Unfortunately there was really nothing to say about the follow-up to Seth MacFarlane's surprise hit that hadn't already been said about A Million Ways To Die In the West or the back-half years of "The Family Guy." MacFarlane has a very specific sense of humor, and the ridiculous, pop culture references and violent lunacy that make up 13 seasons – and two features so far – can only pull laughs from the audience for so long.

 Posted June 29 in Opinions, Review | Comments

Review: Typical Jolts Barely Make 'Jurassic World' a Worthy Revival

Jurassic World

Just as the dinosaurs dominated the planet until 66 million years ago, the Jurassic Park series is king when it comes to putting these extinct creatures on film. This has been the case ever since 1993 when Steven Spielberg's original film swept through that Summer's box office. It only took two sequels before the bloom was decidedly knocked off the rose, but don't think a few missteps will put a heavy-hitter such as this on the franchise endangered species list. With the latest, Jurassic World directed by Colin Trevorrow, the park is back open, the dinosaurs are roaming once again, and the fodder park vacationers are getting lined up for lunch having the time of their lives. What could possibly go wrong that hasn't gone wrong already?

 Posted June 11 in Review, SciFi | Comments

Review: Paul Feig's 'Spy' is Frontrunner For Comedy of the Summer

Paul Feig's Spy

Let's start by making something very clear. Just because Melissa McCarthy is overweight does not make every joke in which she's involved an automatic "fat joke." Sure, the actress has been involved in some obesity-related humor over the course of her film career, but it's not the right attitude to inherently bring with you while watching one of her movies. Maybe it's the right attitude a Kevin James movie but not for Spy – McCarthy's latest – and a film that has comedy coming from all areas. It's an early favorite for the comedy event of the Summer thanks heavily to both McCarthy and the great hodgepodge of a cast with which she's working. At the very least, Spy has fewer "fat jokes" than even the trailer for Paul Blart 2.

 Posted June 5 in Review | Comments

Review: 'San Andreas' is a Clear Indication the Disaster Movie is Dead

San Andreas Review

The ground shakes. Buildings fall. Hope rises. The crowd falls asleep… That's about where we're at with disaster movies and have been under this same model since the aliens invaded on Independence Day nearly 20 years ago. Sure, gimmicks like found footage and the glorious discovery of 3D (Thanks, Cameron) have given disaster movies a glossy, new coat, but it's the same gears moving it all forward underneath. Did you really think San Andreas, the latest, disaster flick from Warner Bros, would shake things up? Don't let the assumed size of the film's title fool you. San Andreas keeps it right at that level we've all grown tired of.

 Posted May 29 in Review | Comments

Review: Brad Bird's Sci-Fi 'Tomorrowland' is Full of Yesterday's Ideas


For a film about avenues to a better future, Tomorrowland is sure working off a lot of yesterday's ideas. These are big ideas, to be sure, and they're ideas the film's director, Brad Bird, can easily back up with some incredibly big effects. None of that, however, makes up for the banal slate of messages and themes, a hokey sense of humor, and a convoluted narrative that seems to hang its hat on the word "mystery." Bird's co-writer on the screenplay may have had a little something to do with that last bit. Tomorrowland, is a classic case of a project looking really good on paper that fumbles its way to messy execution.

 Posted May 22 in Review, SciFi | Comments

Review: 'Pitch Perfect 2' Tries To Cover the Original But Ends Up Flat

Pitch Perfect 2

The Barden Bellas are back, and they're at it again. By "it," I'm referring to performing the most popular musical hits in the world acappella style, something the Bellas know quite a bit about. I'm also referring to the comedy found in Pitch Perfect 2, the sequel to 2012's surprise hit, which chooses to cover just about every joke made in that previous film. Overlong, oddly paced, and sometimes downright ugly, it's the latest example of Hollywood's attempt to catch lightning twice in a bottle. As with so many comedy failures in the past, Pitch Perfect 2 uses the same techniques to catch the same lightning. They even use the same bottle.

 Posted May 18 in Review | Comments

Review: George Miller's 'Mad Max: Fury Road' is the New Metal

Mad Max: Fury Road

What a lovely day, indeed. It's been 30 years since we ventured out into the Wasteland with "Mad" Max Rockatansky, 34 if you're not counting the time he went Beyond Thunderdome. Who could blame you? With 30 years worth of hope and nearly 20 years of promise from series creator George Miller, a new adventure in Mad Max's dusty, brutal world had better deliver the goods. That adventure is now here for our sensory feasting. Mad Max: Fury Road delivers on your every, post-apocalyptic wish and with an endless supply of visual insanity. What more could you possibly hope for in Miller's vision for the world after the fall?

 Posted May 15 in Review | Comments

Review: 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Rides Familiar Wave to Entertainment

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Meanwhile, back in the Marvel cinematic universe, it's business as usual. Iron Man soars through the air blasting tanks and terrorists with his repulser beams. Thor, immaculate hair flowing, tosses his hammer around controlling the lightning. Hulk, you know, smashes. Even Hawkeye, with his bow and arrows, flings his…arrows with his…bow. Yes, it's everything you've come to expect and anticipate when the Avengers get back together, and Avengers: Age of Ultron has familiarity in abundance. That's good and bad when you get down to it, and even with the bloom off the rose, Marvel sure knows how to entertain with the best.

 Posted May 1 in Marvel, Review | Comments




Alex's Top 10 of 2014
1. Mommy
2. Whiplash
3. Force Majeure
4. Selma
5. The Overnighters
6. Blind
7. John Wick
8. Snowpiercer
9. The Imitation Game
10. Birdman
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Ethan's Top 10 of 2014
1. Wild
2. Boyhood
3. Whiplash
4. Guardians / Galaxy
5. The LEGO Movie
6. Gone Girl
7. Life Itself
8. Birdman
9. The Raid 2
10. They Came Tgthr
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