Friday, July 29, 2016

Star Trek: Beyond, Lights Out, Nerve, Café Society Reviews

Star Trek Beyond
Dir. Justin Lin
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At the beginning of Star Trek Beyond, Captain Kirk is as moody as a teenage drama queen with her cell phone taken away, bemoaning the fact that his life is starting to feel routine and "episodic." He's looking for some kind of purpose, and in many ways his comments reflect the series itself: where does Star Trek fit in today's world? In the late 1960s, the original series presented a Tomorrowland-esque optimal future that seems out of place in today's world of fear-mongering political candidates, and even our superhero films reflect a darker, more cynical view of the world. Beyond is partly a return to form for Star Trek - gone is the perpetual brooding and "rehash-y" elements from JJ Abrams' Into Darkness, with director Justin Lin (Fast & Furious) and writer Simon Pegg again focusing the series on space exploration and working as a team with people who are different in both appearance, personality and philosophy. At the end of the day Star Trek Beyond is still simple-minded popcorn entertainment with its share of problems, but it does thankfully recapture the spirit of Gene Roddenberry's altruistic original series.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Ghostbusters, The Secret Life of Pets, The Infiltrator, Hunt for the Wilderpeople Reviews

Dir. Paul Feig
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Ghosts weren't the only ones booing recently. When the trailer for Paul Feig's Ghostbusters reboot hit the web, it was met with nearly universal hate, earning the most dislikes for a movie trailer in Youtube's history. While some of those "haters" were purely fist-clenched misogynists doubled over by the fact that the four new ghostbusters were ladies, I think most people were disappointed by the cringe-worthy humor, the overall "cheap" look, and the fact that this was the best they could come up with in the wake of Harold Ramis's death. But you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, and you shouldn't judge a film by its previews - somehow, despite what its poorly-edited trailer would indicate, Paul Feig's Ghostbusters is a fun, colorful chuckle-fest with four distinctive and charming leads that, in my opinion, deserve their own franchise as much as Venkman, Stantz, Spengler, and Winston.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Legend of Tarzan, The Purge 3, Swiss Army Man, Tickled Reviews

The Legend of Tarzan
Dir. David Yates
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The vine-swinging, poo-flinging Tarzan is certainly no stranger to the film medium. Nearly 105 years after the publication of Edgar Rice Burrough's original novel, which itself spawned 14 sequels, we have seen well over 50 adaptations of the loin-clothed man-ape for the big and small screen, going back all the way to the pre-talkie silent days. So with such a deep, rich (and not-so-rich) well of material to work from and try to make fresh, David Yate's The Legend of Tarzan feels pretty pointless. Haven't we seen enough of this tale already over the past century? Although the studios apparently didn't think so, audiences have, as Warner Brothers spent $180 million for a film that will struggle to break even. The Legend of Tarzan is a boring, lifeless, unnecessary, too-familiar re-hash of the Tarzan story that proves that brand-recognizability alone won't make people automatically flock to see a film.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The BFG, The Shallows, Free State of Jones, The Neon Demon Reviews

Dir. Steven Spielberg
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Steven Spielberg used to be synonymous with spectacle-based summer blockbusters (E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park), but as of late he's taken less inspiration from the fantastical and more from the History Channel, with movies that have "father's day gift" written all over them, like Lincoln, War Horse, and last year's Bridge of Spies. But The BFG, based on Roald Dahl's children's book about a Big Friendly Giant, harks back to that time of awe-struck children and dream-like visuals (in this case literally) that made Spielberg a household name. Unfortunately, despite The BFG's dazzling special effects, the Spielbergian aspects that weren't translated here was any sense of tension or conflict, a brisk pace, and perhaps most egregiously, a child actor who wasn't annoying as hell.

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