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Regional Media Movie Review Wonder

Wonder is a real, well, wonder. Rarely do tear-jerkers work as well as what director Stephen Chbosky assembles here. Everything in Wonder seems set to be a clichéd way of sucking out tears. A child with a facial deformity, a pair of goodhearted parents, a sick dog, these are all elements that under the guidance of a lesser director, would be used to physically assault audiences in the search for tears. Stephen Chbosky is, quite thankfully, a terrific director and he employs these elements in the way a good director does.

Click the poster for the full length written review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Mudbound

Is Hollywood finally being forced to grow up? On one hand, no, as the fact that Superhero movies still dominate our box office allows us all an escape hatch back to childish notions of good and evil. On the other hand however, a grown up conversation about race and racism has emerged as a significant narrative in Hollywood 2017 and it’s a conversation for grown-ups only. Get Out, Jordan Peele’s exceptional meta-horror movie, began the conversation with a spoonful of genre horror to help the medicine go down. Detroit, followed this past summer by serving up some recent true crime history.

Click here for my full length written review of Mudbound 

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Regional Media Movie Review Jim and Andy The Great Beyond

Man on the Moon was one of my favorite movies of 1999. I had no idea what went into making the movie at the time I saw it in 1999. Had I been more aware of the tabloid crazy story that was going on behind the scenes I likely would have loved the movie even more. Jim Carrey has now detailed the making of Man on the Moon in a new Netflix documentary that debuts November 17th and it is a remarkable and fascinating insight into the mind of an artist.

Click here for the full length written review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Justice League

The problem with Justice League and the problem with the entirety of the DC cinematic universe is the vision of Zach Snyder. I realize that laying the blame for what many perceive as a significant failure on one person is a little unfair, but hear me out. I like the movies that Zach Snyder has made in this universe. I like Justice League but the fact of the matter, for me, is that these movies fail to transcend into being truly great movies because Zach Snyder isn’t a great director, just a pretty good one.

Click here for the radio review. 

Click Here for my full length written review

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Regional Media Movie Review Daddy's Home 2

I can’t feel bad for the makers of Daddy’s Home 2; the movie is too poorly made for me to feel bad for anyone involved, aside from the poor children who didn’t know any better. That said, there is part of me that sort of tilts my head to the side and thinks “awe, that’s a shame.” Daddy’s Home 2 has unfortunate timing, arriving as it does with its wildly awkward take on masculine identity, and with Mel Gibson in tow, Daddy’s Home 2 is like the guy who arrives at a party late, unaware that things have gotten awkward, and proceeds to make things even more cringeworthy through their ignorance.

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Regional Media Movie Review Devil's Whisper

I’m torn on the movie Devil’s Whisper. One side of me finds the film stylish, well acted and some of its ideas daring. The other side of me, however, cannot abide yet another movie where a demon of dubious abilities opens doors, manipulates electricity, or other such nonsense via mind control or some sort of demonic form ESP. When will filmmakers tire of these moronic tropes? When will a movie that has some good ideas about how to couch evil in a horror form to discuss big issues? Devil’s Whisper approaches big ideas but can’t resist demonic silliness.

Click the photo for the full length review. 

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Review Jim and Andy The Great Beyond

Man on the Moon was one of my favorite movies of 1999. I had no idea what went into making the movie at the time I saw it in 1999. Had I been more aware of the tabloid crazy story that was going on behind the scenes I likely would have loved the movie even more. Jim Carrey has now detailed the making of Man on the Moon in a new Netflix documentary that debuts November 17th and it is a remarkable and fascinating insight into the mind of an artist.

Click the picture for the full length written review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review A Bad Moms Christmas

A Bad Moms Christmas is quite funny. The gags delivered by these very funny ladies work most of the time to great effect. So why don’t I love the movie? As much as I laughed at A Bad Mom’s Christmas, I was rolling my eyes during scenes that weren’t centered on off-color gags. For all the uproarious laughs brought on by the brilliant Kathryn Hahn, the non-gag scenes, the ones centered on moving forward the supposed plot of A Bad Moms Christmas, simply don’t hold up.

Click the poster for the full length written review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Thor Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnorak is a heck of a lot of fun. Director Taika Waititi is the first director to fully tap the potential of the Thor character and star Chris Hemsworth. Though we’re aware from The Avengers’ movies that Hemsworth is a real talent, he’s not had a solo, leading man effort that has lived up to the outings of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man or Chris Evans as Captain America. Even Tom Holland had schooled Hemsworth by making his Spiderman: Homecoming this past summer one of the best reviewed and well-loved movies in the Marvel canon.

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Regional Media Movie Review Thank You for Your Service

Thank You for Your Service is a deeply respectful and respectable movie about veterans and PTSD. The film stars Miles Teller as Staff Sgt. Adam Schumann who is just returning from Iraq from a traumatic third tour of duty. Having been praised for his unique ability for locating roadside mines, Adam’s last experience in Iraq was seeing a friend shot in the head and him having dropped that friend as he carried him down the steps of a building under fire by terrorists.

Click Here for the Full Length Written Review 

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Regional Media Movie Review Suburbicon

Matt Damon stars in Suburbicon as Gardner, a man in debt to the mob and desiring to get rid of his wheelchair bound wife, Rose (Julianne Moore) so that he can be with Rose’s twin sister Margaret (Julianne Moore). Caught in the middle of Gardner’s scheme is his son, Nicky (Noah Jupe). When after Gardner’s wife is murdered, Nicky goes along to the police lineup, he spies his father intentionally failing to identify the killers. Here is where the façade of his father’s life comes tumbling down.

Click Here for the Full Length Written Review

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Regional Media Movie Review Jigsaw

I am so bummed out by Jigsaw, the continuation of my favorite horror franchise, Saw. It’s not that Jigsaw is bad; much of it is actually pretty good: the scares are good, the gore is outstanding, the acting is top notch B-movie stuff, a staple of the franchise. No, what bums me out is that Jigsaw fails miserably in its attempt to tie back into the original franchise which seemed to definitively end with Saw 3D back in 2010. That film, to me, was a misunderstood piece of horror trash that wonderfully, darkly, and humorously commented on the films that came before. Jigsaw upends the premise of Saw 3D, and that hurts me to my franchise fan core.

Click here for the radio review 

Click here for the full length written review at Horror.media 

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Classic Movie Review Saw

As part of a celebration of Halloween weekend, the Everyone is a Critic Movie Review podcast, which I co-host, will be doing a special bonus episode dedicated to the Saw franchise. We will discuss in-depth each of the Saw movies including the brand new Jigsaw, which opens Halloween weekend in theaters nationwide. With that in mind, I am also writing about each of the Saw movies for Horror.Media. Spoiler alert, I am a huge fan of all seven of the previous Saw movies and I am very much looking forward to the debut of Jigsaw. You can get our Saw Bonus episode and every episode of the Everyone is a Critic Movie Review Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or anywhere podcasts are available.

One of the toughest jobs for a screenwriter is finding a unique premise. It seems that everything has been done. Many aspiring screenwriters have had that frustrating moment of having written 10 pages and then realizing everything you wrote sounds exactly like something you just saw, or remember seeing. Who knows how many times that happened to writer Leigh Whannell, but he got over it and found a very unique premise for his film debut Saw.

Click here for the full length written review at Horror.Media 

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Classic Movie Review Saw 3D

In what was thought to be the final installment of the Saw films all seemed to finally come clear to me about this oddly brilliant horror franchise. The murderous Jigsaw, played by Tobin Bell, is the vengeful Old Testament God and his victims are the sinners being delivered through anguish and deciding whether they will repent and live on or die horribly. Biblical scholars can take issue if they like. It’s a loose metaphor but it fits.

Click here for the full length written review of Saw 3D. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Only the Brave

Only The Brave is based on a harrowing true story. In 2013 the Granite Mountain Hotshots wildfire fighting team was sent to Yarnell Hill in Arizona to battle a wildfire. When the weather turned and the wind kicked up the flames in a new direction, 19 members of the Hot Shots team was caught behind the fire line. All 19 were killed despite their use of flame retardant covers which proved ineffective for this raging blaze.Click the poster for the full length written review. 

Click here for the radio review. 

 

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Regional Media Movie Review Same Kind of Different As Me

I have a genuine pity for the faith-based audience. Few audiences are as underserved as the faithful. And few audiences are as exploited as the faith based filmgoer. The people at Pure Flix have made their fortune exploiting this audience by serving them half-baked, poorly made movies that pander to their faith without serving it. Pure Flix has little interest in the quality of their work and exist solely to make a buck. Just look at the awful roster of Pure Flix movies and you will find it difficult to argue my point. Click the Poster for the Full Length Written Review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween

What is there to be said about Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween? You already know it’s not any good. We all know that Tyler Perry doesn’t give a damn about the quality of his work. It’s completely critic-proof. I am epically wasting my time writing a review of this, or really any of Perry’s work. And yet, I am somehow here to write a review of Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween. It really makes me begin to question my profession. Not completely, lord knows I wouldn’t want to get a real job. Click here for the full length written review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Snowman

Before I formally go into my review of The Snowman, let me preface this review stating my respect for director Tomas Alfredson. In press interviews for The Snowman he is not sugar-coating the film’s problems. He’s been up front about the abrupt production time in Norway, the lack of a finished script and the reshoots that nevertheless failed to find the missing pieces of what is one truly jacked up puzzle of a movie. Click the poster for the full length written review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Foreigner

It seems that I am not a big fan of the work of actor Pierce Brosnan. It’s not that I have an active dislike for the man, but rather, in looking at my cumulative opinion of his work over his 35-plus year career, I have only given Brosnan two positive reviews. Grant you, I have only been a critic for 20 years, but Brosnan was on TV for most of the time before I came into my profession. He had arguably his biggest successes in the James Bond franchise during my time as a critic. Then again, I don’t have a particularly high opinion of that franchise, either.

Click the poster for the full length written review of The Foreigner... 

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Regional Media Movie Review Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women stars Luke Evans as Professor William Moulton Marston, the man who created the Wonder Woman comic book. Marston was an academic who studied and taught psychology before he somehow found himself creating a comic book as a way to sneak his psychological theories into mainstream thought. The character of Wonder Woman was created, according to the movie, as a composite of the two women in Marston’s life, his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and Olive (Bella Heathcote) their lover.

Click the poster for the full length written review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Marshall

Marshall stars rising superstar Chadwick Boseman in the role of legendary Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Set years before Marshall rose to be one of the most respected judges in the country, at a time when black people were still fighting for civil rights, Marshall is a terrific introduction to the man. Boseman, future star of Marvel’s Black Panther, demonstrates the supreme intelligence and charisma that Marshall no doubt possessed as he came up through the ranks of the NAACP to become a leader.

Click the picture below for the full review

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Regional Media Movie Review Happy Death Day

Happy Death Day is one of the best surprises of 2017. This seemingly throwaway teen slasher flick turns out to be a sneaky black comedy version of Groundhog Day if Bill Murray were being murdered every day. The film was directed by Christopher Lambert whose résumé is riddled with mediocre screenplays for the Paranormal Activity franchise and whose first feature was the idiotic Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, which leaves me to wonder where he’s been hiding this version of his work?

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Regional Media Movie Review The Mountain Between Us

The Mountain Between Us is damn near comedy gold. This so bad it’s fun nonsense romance posits two attractive leads delivering silly dialogue and rote drama in the midst of hyper-circumstances. When Dr. Ben, played by Idris Elba, responds to his new friend Alex, played by Kate Winslet, saying that ‘the heart is just a muscle,’ try to control your gag reflex and for the sake of the few who might be able to process such schmaltz, stifle your giggles.

Click the poster for the full length written review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review My Little Pony The Movie

Having seen the unique and oddly fascinating documentary Bronies a few years back, I have been trying to come to terms with the adult fans of My Little Pony. Is this simply large scale trolling or are these grown men for real in their pony based fandom? Oddly, I don’t feel like either of the Brony documentaries that have been released in the past couple of years have answered my question. I still don’t get what it is that grown men see in My Little Pony.

Click the Poster for the full length written review

 

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Regional Media Movie Review Blade Runner 2049

“Sometimes, to love someone, you have to be a stranger.”

Out of context, the above line of dialogue from Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t seem so profound. But when it lands in the context of the story being told by director Denis Villeneuve, the line plays as remarkably poignant. I won’t spoil the context in this review. Indeed, I will venture to avoid any spoilers whatsoever. What I can tell you about Blade Runner 2049 is that it has all of the atmosphere of cool that the 1982, Ridley Scott-helmed original had but with even better characters and deeper meanings, and yes, genuinely poignant moments.

Click Here for the Radio Review. 

Click the Poster for the full length written review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Battle of the Sexes

I’ve spent a few days wrestling with why I don’t love the new, true life drama Battle of the Sexes from two of my favorite directors, Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton. The directors of the wonderful Little Miss Sunshine and the sublime Ruby Sparks have delivered a solid effort in Battle of the Sexes, but there is just something lacking. It’s not the performances either, as both Emma Stone and Steve Carell deliver standout takes on real life counterparts Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs. So just what’s wrong with Battle of the Sexes?

Click the poster for the full length written review. 

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Regional Media Movie Re-Review Logan

When I first saw Logan, the latest spin-off of the X-Men franchise, I was not impressed. There was so much hype, so much discussion about how the R-Rating would finally allow Wolverine to be Wolverine. Then I saw the film and found it to be as conventional as any of the other X-Men movies with a little bit of gore tacked on for fan service. So what’s changed for me since March of this year? Why was watching Logan at home on a DVD screener from the studio so different from watching the film in theaters earlier this year?

Click the picture for the full review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review American Made

American Made stars Tom Cruise as Barry Seal, a real life character who was at the center of the drug, guns, and South American contras controversies of the late 70s and 80s. Barry was just an airline pilot for TWA until the CIA caught wind of his trafficking in Cuban cigars. Sensing that Barry has just the kind of moral flexibility that the CIA needs, Agent Shaffer (Domnhall Gleeson) recruits him to run reconnaissance missions in South America, spying on supposed communist outposts.

Click Here for the radio review

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Regional Media Move Review Stronger

Stronger stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Jeff Bauman, a man who lost his legs to the bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon. Before the marathon, Jeff was just an anonymous Costco employee who loved the Red Sox and wanted to reconcile with his girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany) who dumped him because he rarely showed up when he was supposed to. On April 15, 2013, Jeff finally showed up at the Boston Marathon in the hope that his homemade sign cheering Erin on to the finish line might win her back.

Click the poster for the full length written review.... 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Lego Ninjago Movie

Lego Ninjago has not one single laugh. It has amusing moments but not a single instance of induced laughter. And I am not just speaking for myself here. The audience I watched Lego Ninjago with was really ready to laugh and you could hear some forced attempts at trying to laugh but as the movie went on even those that kept smiling and trying to find what was happening in Lego Ninjago funny weren’t laughing. It was strange; there was no outward disdain for Lego Ninjago but there weren’t any laughs.

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Regional Media Movie Review Friend Request

Friend Request is yet another failed attempt to combine social media and horror. It really shouldn’t be that hard to combine the two when you consider the daily horrors that social media enacts upon us when we simply pick up our phones, but filmmakers have thus far made the combination look impossible. Social media has numerous innate existential horrors that could be exploited by a smart filmmaker but the question seems to come back to how you can exploit that for a body count and so far no one has been able to pull that off.

Click the poster for the full length written review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Kingsman The Golden Circle

Kingsman: The Secret Service was a not particularly inventive rehash of Mark Millar’s previously adapted work, Kick-Ass. The derivative spy take on the same tropes of the super-hero send-up bored me endlessly with its nihilistic approach to James Bond minus the strange wit of Kick-Ass, which shared not just creator Millar but also director Matthew Vaughn, who couldn’t help but seem to rip off his own work in a lazy rehash.

Click here for the Radio Review

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Classic Movie Review The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride is one of the most rewatchable movies in history. This rich, robust, and homey comedy never ages and never falters. Rob Reiner’s direction, aside from a truly terrible film score, is unassailable in every comedy beat. Then there is the absolutely perfect casting. Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Andre the Giant, and each of the supporting players, from Chris Sarandon as the evil Prince, Christopher Guest as the evil six-fingered henchman, and Billy Crystal’s cameo as Miracle Max, could not be better.

Click the picture below for the full length written review of The Princess Bride. 

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Regional Media Movie Review American Assassin

American Assassin stars Dylan O’Brien as Mitch Rapp, a normal college age kid who we meet while he is vacationing in Ibiza with his beautiful girlfriend. Just after she has accepted his marriage proposal, terrorists sweep over the beach, killing dozens of people in an all too plausible scenario that calls to mind the Paris nightclub attack. Among the dead is Mitch’s new fiancée while he is wounded in the leg and shoulder but narrowly survives.

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Regional Media Movie Review Mother!

I can’t decide if Mother(!) is Darren Aronofsky’s way of pleasuring himself on screen or if it is a legitimate work of art simply out of the grasp of my pea brain. The film has some seemingly obvious metaphors but they are metaphors that are so blatant that your brain fights the idea that they could be so simple to untangle. At least we can all agree that Mother(!) is a pretentious as all get out work of an egotist artist who’s either far too oblique for his own good or a complete troll.

Click Here for the Radio Review 

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Classic Movie Review Fatal Attraction Turns 30 Years Old

Fatal Attraction stars Michael Douglas as a seemingly happy husband to Ann Archer and father to an adorable 6-year-old daughter. So why, if he’s so happy, does he decide to cheat on his wife? This questions comes to consume the mind of Alex (Glenn Close), the woman Douglas’ Dan decides to sleep with one night while his wife and daughter are away visiting family in the suburbs. Alex can’t understand why Dan would choose to sleep with her and then retreat back to his marriage.

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Classic Movie Review The Pick Up Artist Starring Robert Downey Jr.

The Pick Up Artist is a bizarrely bad movie of the kind only James Toback seems capable of. This mess of a romantic comedy and a gangster movie attempts to be both conventional and unconventional. Toback’s thing has always been arthouse style talky existentialism with a healthy dose of New York. Watching him try to cram that unusual sensibility into a mainstream movie would be unwatchable were it not for Robert Downey Jr. and Molly Ringwald who, at the very least, remain likable even as they struggle against a director lost in his attempt to serve the commercial and the arty.

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Regional Media Movie Review The Wilde Wedding

The Wilde Wedding has the chance to be a pretty great movie but lacks the courage to pull it off. The film brings together the talents of Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Patrick Stewart for a wedding comedy and the charm factor would be off the charts except that writer-director Damian Harris can’t resist mucking up the works by having the younger cast too often crowd out the more interesting veterans. Click the picture for my full lenghth written review of The Wilde Wedding and watch for the movie on all streaming services this weekend if you're interested in seeing. It's also in some theaters nation wide. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Home Again

Home Again is a vacuous and inane movie that is otherwise an inoffensive and forgettable romantic comedy about characters who have no problems. It’s the kind of vacuousness that you would think even Hollywood would be tired of by now and yet there still seems to be an appetite for it. I think it’s called lifestyle porn, wherein the poor watch movies like Home Again and fantasize about the architecture and accoutrements without a care for whether or not the characters’ lives are worth enduring. Click the poster below for the complete review of Home Again. 

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Regional Media Movie Review IT

To say that the 2017 take on Stephen King’s Magnum Clown Opus IT is better than the 1990 mini-series is an understatement. The mini-series was a punishing nearly four-hour mix of a pretty good kids’ story and a nearly impossible to watch adult story. Jettisoning the adult story in favor of focusing on the far superior kids’ story from King’s novel, the 2017 IT crafts a tightly wound, creepy horror flick that plays on some serious issues about grief and abuse while delivering the kind of machine tooled jump scares that modern audiences go to the movies for.

Click Here for the radio review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Rememory

Rememory wants desperately to be a deep meditation on memory, grief and loss, and a sci-fi mystery movie. It achieves some of that goal thanks to the performances from the stellar cast headed by Peter Dinklage and Julia Ormond. That said, the deep meditation part skims the surface and the sci-fi mystery movie is achieved only through the use of a magic memory machine.

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Regional Media Movie Review A Boy Called Po

I must be getting soft as I get older because movies like A Boy Called Po never used to get passed my ironic armor. As a younger critic, a movie like A Boy Called Po with a premise that reads like a Lifetime Movie and a cast lacking star power would have been one I would dismiss without a glance. Admittedly, I used to be kind of arrogant and quite snobbish. It could be I have become more evolved and mature or it could be that director John Asher’s inspired by true events movie is actually so good that I had no need for my emotional armor. Click below for the radio review and click the poster for the full length written review of A Boy Called Po. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Wind River

Wind River is one of the most emotional experiences I have had at the movies in 2017. The modern western from writer-director Taylor Sheridan is a cold and harsh drama about a cold and harsh place where these characters don’t merely live, they survive. The film also shines a devastating light on the plight of Native Americans and the criminal lack of care we give to their living conditions and well-being. That it takes a white writer-director and two white movie stars to get this story told says nearly as much as the movie itself.

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Regional Media Movie Review Leap!

It’s bizarre to me at times the things we feel are alright simply because they are animated. Take for instance the new animated family movie Leap which, while it tells a lovely story of an aspiring ballerina, spends a portion of its third act following a crazy woman as she attempts to murder two orphan children. Now, I get it, they’re animated but the choice made here is so incredibly forced and horrible that it doesn’t feel like Elmer Fudd’s failed attempts to murder Bug Bunny but something far more grim, ugly and worst of all, unnecessary. Click the photo below for the complete review 

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Regional Media Movie Review Logan Lucky

Being a fan of the American history podcast The Dollop allows me to watch a movie like Logan Lucky and never for a moment find the story implausible. Take a listen to them tell the remarkable true story titled Jet-Pack Madness and you will find within it a story every bit as brilliant as a Coen Brothers comedy. Everything in Logan Lucky feels completely plausible when you compare it to such historic silliness as what transpired with the Jet-Pack or the L.A Freeway Shootout or The Human Taco. Click the poster for the full length review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Hitman's Bodyguard

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a very divisive film. Not because it has any challenging themes but rather because it is both a laugh riot and quite a bad movie. At once, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is very, quite intentionally, funny and quite poorly directed. I call the film divisive not because audiences will either love or loathe the film in equal measure but rather because I am divided personally by the fact that I repeatedly laughed quite loud during the film and by the fact that the film’s green screen effects, storytelling, and casting are so shoddy that at times I physically wretched.

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Regional Media Movie Review The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature

To call out The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature for creative bankruptcy would be as futile as calling out Congress for its corruption. Sure, both of those assessments are of equal accuracy but they are also empty facts of life that aren’t going to change simply because we point them out. So, what then do we make of The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature? Now that we’ve accepted the creative bankruptcy what is left for us to ponder?

Click the picture of the cute mouse for the complete review... 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Glass Castle

When I was an up and coming young radio talk show host, I had the privilege of interviewing author Jeanette Walls about her remarkable memoir The Glass Castle. Normally, in prepping for an interview in talk radio, you don’t have time to read entire books, you’re forced to skim and pick and choose important portions to discuss in the brief time you have with your subject. In the case of The Glass Castle however, I was lucky enough to have a full weekend and in that weekend, I read the entire book because I simply could not stop myself.

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Regional Media Movie Review Annabelle Creation

I tried, I really did. I tried to give Annabelle: Creation the benefit of the doubt. I tried to go with the idiot premise that demons possess dolls and small children and are capable of massive amounts of destruction and horror but are constantly thwarted by locked, wooden doors. I gave this movie the chance to explain where the Annabelle doll that has been passed down from the equally silly The Conjuring movies came from and how it came to be a cursed item. I tried, but nothing in the movie convinced me why it was frightening, suspenseful or even mildly discomforting.

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Regional Media Movie Review Detroit

Recently I listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s incredible podcast Revisionist History and in the very first episode he discussed a fascinating sociological concept called Moral Licensing. Moral Licensing is in essence doing something that is right and then using that right action, essentially a good deed, to justify bad behavior. Gladwell’s example was a painter in 19th Century England, Elizabeth Thompson, whose painting, titled Roll Call, became the first by a female artist to take a respected placement in the Royal Academy of Art. Unfortunately, the good deed by the male dominated Royal Academy of featuring the remarkable painting gave them, in their minds, the bona fides to justify not electing Thompson to become a member of the Royal Academy. They’d done their good deed and had nothing, in their minds left to prove.

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Regional Media Movie Review Kidnap

Halle Berry has been on an astonishing losing streak at the box office since she won the Academy Award for her starring role in Monster’s Ball. Ever since the night she won people’s hearts with her teary and historic Oscar acceptance speech, Berry has made one wrong turn after another whether making bad big budget comic book movies, all X-Men sequels or spinoffs, or bad low budget thrillers, Perfect Stranger, Gothika, The Call, or head-scratching, defiantly awful fare such as Movie 43, Cloud Atlas and Catwoman, Berry seemed bent on full career sabotage.

Read the full review by clicking the poster. 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Dark Tower

To whomever said that Stephen King’s epic novel The Dark Tower was un-adaptable to the big screen, we owe you a Coke. The supremely silly movie sequel to King’s dense Dark Tower book series is an embarrassment to all involved from King to director Nicolaj Arcel to Academy Award winning star Matthew McConaughey and Academy Award nominated producer Ron Howard, who for some reason passed on directing The Dark Tower himself; golly, I can’t imagine why?

Click here for the complete written review. Click the poster below for the radio review. 

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Regional Media Throwback Thursday Review Masters of the Universe

The legendary John Waters once defined camp, on an episode of The Simpsons, as “The tragically ludicrous, the ludicrously tragic.” The 1987 movie Masters of the Universe pre-dates that definition of camp by more than a decade but nevertheless defines it perfectly. Masters of the Universe is a tragically ludicrous idea undermined by greed, hubris and the outright silly notion that just because something catches on with child audiences it can be translated to film in anything other than a pathetic attempt at pandering.

Click the poster for the complete review and unique history of Masters of the Universe. 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Legend of Ben Hall

We have a tendency in America to believe that our pop culture is the only culture to embrace our anti-heroes, those rugged criminals whose lives we romanticize into fantasy for reasons we can’t quite rationalize with what these men did. But rhapsodizing about the criminal as pseudo-hero is a truly worldwide phenomenon. The latest example of the worldwide nature of the celebration of anti-heroes comes from Australia with the story of criminal icon Ben Hall, the subject of the Bushranger epic The Legend of Ben Hall which is now available on DVD and On-Demand services in America.

Click the poster for the review 

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Regional Media Movie Review Opening Night

Opening Night has the kind of scrappy charm that you want out of a musical. It’s shaggy and flawed but it’s also fun-loving and freewheeling. The story of a Broadway stage manager struggling with personal demons from his own seemingly failed Broadway career, the movie may not have the polish of a Hollywood production but it makes up for it with moxie and the can-do spirit of an underdog production with nothing to lose. Click the poster for the full review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Emoji Movie

What is there to be said about The Emoji Movie? That’s what I have been asking myself for the more than an hour since I sat down to write this review. This empty, mostly competent, 90+ minute ad for smartphone apps doesn’t inspire much to be written about it. Sure, I could rail against the empty, soulless, mercenary nature of what amounts to app product placement the movie, but I have been shouting into that void since the trailer for the film hit and no one seemed to care then. So, let’s just start writing and see what happens.Click the poster for the full review.... 

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Regional Media Movie Review Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde stars Charlize Theron as Lorraine, the top spy in Britain's MI6. Her mission is to retrieve sensitive and dangerous information from East Berlin just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Helping and hindering her attempts are her officious boss, Toby Jones, the American CIA, headed by John Goodman, and her top Berlin contact David played by James McAvoy. Here's my review of Atomic Blonde....
Click the poster for the review.....

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Regional Media Movie Review La Bamba 30 Years Later

Somehow, despite having seen the movie La Bamba more than a dozen times in my life, watching the movie on its 30th Anniversary felt brand new. La Bamba was a film of my youth; I was 11 years old when the film hit theaters in 1987. I watched it repeatedly when it was on pay cable and free TV in the later 80’s and 90’s and then the film fell from my memory. You might be wondering how I could have allowed something I must’ve treasured to leave my memories. The answer is more complicated than I had imagined.

Click the photo for the full article on #LaBamba 30 years later.... 

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Regional Media Movie Review Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

I cannot decide which is the more difficult type of review: positive without fawning, negative without being mean-spirited or ambivalent. The last type of review is where I find myself with the new movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets:; utter and complete ambivalence. There is much to admire about the latest from director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Leon: The Professional, among others) but there is also plenty of empty, sci-fi spectacle. Get the full review by clicking the photo below. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Dunkirk

Dunkirk comes from the mind and talent of director Christopher Nolan who is well-known for the blockbuster Dark Knight trilogy along with Interstellar and Memento. Here, Mr. Nolan is taking of the famed battle of Dunkirk a significant setback to British forces who find themselves forced off of the European continent, literally driven to the sea by the onslaught of the German army. Against this backdrop several different characters emerge to tell different aspects of this non-linear story including a pilot played by Tom Hardy, an emotionally damaged soldier played by Cillian Murphy, a non-military boat owner played by Academy Award winner Mark Rylance and several young soldiers trapped on the beach, one played by One Direction singer Harry Styles. Click the photo for my review of Dunkirk. 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Big Sick

The Big Sick broke my heart into a million little pieces and slowly pieced it back together throughout its gentle, sweet and very, very funny 120 minutes. Featuring an unconventional but brilliant lead performer, a radiant love interest and two of the best possible supporting players anyone could ask for, The Big Sick is, thus far, the best movie of 2017. Click the poster to read the full review. 

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Regional Media Movie Review War for the Planet of the Apes

War for the Planet of the Apes picks up the story of Caesar (Andy Serkis), leader of the Apes as he defends his Apes against an encroaching human army led by a mad man Colonel played by Woody Harrelson. As the two battle get into a battle of wills the body count rises on both sides and tragedy looms for human and Ape alike. Here is my review of War for the Planet of the Apes.
Click the Poster for the review 

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Regional Media Movie Review Spider-Man Homecoming

Spider-Man Homecoming stars Tom Holland, picking up where he left off as the web-slinging superhero from Captain America: Civil War. Homecoming finds our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man getting restless stopping crime in and around Queens and eager to become a full-fledged Avenger. Spidey's spies an opportunity to impress his mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) when he finds a group of criminals stealing and dealing alien technology retro-fitted for the modern street criminal. Michael Keaton and Marisa Tomei co-star. Click the poster below for my review of Spider-Man Homecoming....

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Regional Media Movie Review The Beguiled

The Beguiled is the latest from "Lost in Translation" director Sophia Coppola. The film stars Colin Ferrell as a Union soldier who suffered a serious leg injury and is attempting to escape the war when he is discovered by a student at a Virginia girls school. After the soldier is taken in by the women at the school he is cared for allegedly so that he can be turned over to be imprisoned. The leader of the school is played by Nicole Kidman while Kirsten Dunst is the lead teacher and Elle Fanning is a provocative young student. Click the poster below for my review of The Beguiled... 

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Regional Media Movie Review Baby Driver

Baby Driver stars Ansel Elgort, the dying heartthrob of The Fault in Our Stars, as Baby, a driver for a crime boss nicknamed Doc (Kevin Spacey). Doc's forte is bank robbery using a different set of criminals on each with only Baby as a regular member of his crew, always the driver. Among the criminals Doc utilizes are Bats (Jamie Foxx) and Buddy (Jon Hamm). Baby's life is changed forever when he meets and falls in love with Debora (Lily James from Cinderella) and attempts to leave his criminal days behind him. Here's my review of Baby Driver...
Click the poster for the review 

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Regional Media Movie Review Tranformers The Last Knight

Transformers The Last Knight picks up the story of Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yarger as he's attempting to defend the remaining Autobots from a worldwide Army charged with capturing or destroying all Transformers. Meanwhile Optimus Prime has gone home to what remains of Cybertron intent on confronting his creator, a move that leads to Prime going from ally to enemy of humanity.
Click the poster for my review of Transformers The Last Knight. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Cars 3

Cars 3 features the voice of Owen Wilson back in the role of Nascar racer Lightning McQueen. This time Lightning has become the older statesmen of racing that Paul Newman was as Doc Hudson in the original Cars. With younger Cars passing him up it looks like Lightning's career might be at an end. Then he meets Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonso) and the two go on a journey together that is the bulk of the story. Here's my review of Cars 3. 

Click Here

 

 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Mummy

The Mummy stars Tom Cruise as Nick, an adventurer, soldier, archaeologist, thief and all around charming rogue. Nick finds trouble when he and his colleagues, including New Girl star Jake Johnson, uncover an ancient Mummy's tomb that bestows a deathly curse on Nick. Can Nick beat back the ancient evil of the Mummy known as Ahminek (Sophia Boutella)? That's the story of "The Mummy." Here's my review. Click Here

 

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Regional Media Movie Review Colossal

As metaphors go, Godzilla has seen his fair share of interpretations. While most often Godzilla is a stand in for nuclear age mismanagement, the big guy has also been used to further environmental messages, anti-war messages and in his latest and most unique incarnation, in the comic-drama “Colossal,” Godzilla stands in for the emotional trauma people can inflict on others. As unique as “Colossal” is in the interpretation of the legendary movie monster it does adhere with the idea that the humans are nearly as monstrous as the monster we created.
Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is a mess. She has no direction, no job and few prospects. Oh, and Gloria has a serious problem with alcohol. Gloria’s issues finally come to head when her live-in boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) kicks her to the curb. With nowhere to go, Gloria returns to her childhood home, recently abandoned by her parents, and squats on mom and dad’s dime, eventually finding a job at a bar owned by her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis).
I say that Oscar is Gloria’s friend but as the story of “Colossal” plays out the dynamic between Oscar and Gloria will evolve in some very unexpected ways. Unexpected is a hallmark of “Colossal” which comes to find that Gloria’s many, many issues have manifested through some sort of portal that links her thoughts and actions to a Godzilla like creature that wreaks havoc in South Korea each time Gloria goes a little too far in her self-centered partying.
This is no dream sequence in “Colossal.” The story here, crafted by veteran Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo, manifests Godzilla as a real monster that does attack South Korea and mimics the actions of Gloria who decides to turn her life around so that she can avoid killing thousands of people each time she gets drunk and rowdy. Oscar has his own connection to this unique manifestation but that would be far too spoiler heavy to reveal here.
“Collossal” is not at all the movie it appears to be in advertisements and trailers. The marketing for “Colossal” plays up the comic aspects of this story despite the comedy being almost incidental to the psycho-drama that the film becomes as it goes along. There is a darkness and complexity to “Colossal” that producers have apparently been attempting to hide from audiences on the assumption that people aren’t interested in a unique premise, they just want to think they are going to laugh.
As insulting as the marketing of “Colossal” unquestionably is, the film itself is rare and authentic, a work of a wonderfully inventive filmmaker. I am, in all honesty, not familiar with the work of Nacho Vigalondo. That said, “Colossal” is a fantastic introduction to a filmmaker with a unique vision and approach to storytelling. This is just the kind of original and exciting filmmaking that I hope we can encourage more of in the future.

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Regional Media Movie Review Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

What did the world do to deserve a reboot of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” franchise? What was it about the mediocre previous entries in this franchise that inspired producers, a screenwriter and a director to believe this was something they should dedicate time and effort to? Well, time anyway, effort, as you will find from reading this review, is a questionable aspect of the making of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.”
We are once again brought into the world of Greg Heffley (Jason Drucker) an imaginative kid who continues to find himself in humiliating situations. Greg’s latest humiliation has gone viral after a trip to a family restaurant leads to Greg chasing his little brother Manny (played by twin kids Wyatt and Dylan Waters) into a ballpit where Greg ends up getting his hand stuck in a used diaper and leads to him being referred to in internet memes as ‘Diaper Hands.’
That opening alone could tell you how charmless “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” is but the film somehow manages to find one new low after another. Greg’s family is taking a road trip to Mee-Maw’s house and along the way Greg wants to trick his parents, slumming former stars Tom Everett Scott and Alicia Silverstone, into taking him to videogame convention while Greg’s brother Rowley (Charlie Wright) acts dumb and adds little to nothing to the story.
The road trip is a mere set up for some of the most disgusting gross out jokes this side of a horror film. Poop, puke and body horror are employed throughout “The Long Haul” to the point where I nearly walked out, something I haven’t done since Samuel L. Jackson graphically fed laxatives to bad guys for an explosive diarrhea gag in the forgotten action movie “Formula 53.” This film is nearly as offensive as that R-Rated movie despite somehow carrying a PG Rating.
“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” also features a subplot about another family on a road trip who keep crossing paths with Greg. Jokes about Greg accidentally sleeping in the family’s bed, in his underwear, in a strange man’s bed, is just one of a series of highly questionable gags. The father of this competing family, referred to for some reason as Beardo and played by Chris Coppola is portrayed as wanting to murder Greg throughout the film. The character lapses in and out of a murderous rage each time he see’s Greg and again and again director David Bowers seems to find this notion hilarious.
In one epically bizarre homage Greg somehow winds up in Beardo’s shower and the scene devolves into a remake of the shower scene in “Psycho.” In what universe is a “Psycho” homage a good idea for a family road trip comedy? What kid in the audience is getting that reference? What parent in the audience feels that this homage is remotely appropriate for a family comedy? WHO THINKS THIS IS OK????
Please do not tell me that I am overreacting or that it’s “Just a kid’s movie.” If anything, we should hold children’s entertainment to a higher standard of quality than we do entertainment aimed at older audiences. Children’s tastes are just not evolving and growing. Exposing a child to entertainment that is beneath contempt as “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” truly is, is irresponsible. This is a film so execrable that it could do permanent damage to a child’s taste; this is the kind of kid’s movie that creates Adam Sandler fans.
I am not being hyperbolic when I say that “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” is the worst movie of 2017. Gross, unfunny, and genuinely unpleasant to sit through, I am truly shocked that major movie studios still allow such movies to reach mass audiences. This is a dispiriting experience. If ever you need proof that Hollywood does not care about what it puts into the world “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” is that proof.

 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Circle

The Circle stars Emma Watson as Mae, the newest employee of a massive tech company with roots in every form of innovation from basic tech to the most advanced social media. Tom Hanks is the Steve Jobs-esque company founder wtih Patton Oswalt as his second in command. As Mae rises through the ranks she comes to find that there is more to the company and it's commitment to radical honesty than what appears on the surface. Here's my review of "The Circle."

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Regional Media Movie Review Free Fire

Free Fire stars Academy Award winner Brie Larson as a woman caught in the middle of an arms deal gone wrong. Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, and Cillian Murphy co-star as the fellow arms dealers who instead of making deal for guns end up firing guns at each other for well over an hour. Who makes it out alive? Who is firing at who? That's the oddball plot of Free Fire. Here's my review of Free Fire. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Tommy's Honour

If your lead character is an unchallenged champion from the beginning to the end of your story there isn’t much of an arc for an audience to grab onto. I wish someone might have explained this concept to the makers of the movie “Tommy’s Honour” which stars Jack Lowden as Scottish golfing legend Tommy Morris Jr. In “Tommy’s Honour” Morris is portrayed as such an incredible champion and all around angelic hero that the stories of his many triumphs and tragedies are rendered dull and listless.
Tommy Morris Jr’s life was planned before he was born. By the strict societal codes of the time, the early 1800’s, Morris Jr was expected follow in the footsteps of his father (Peter Mullan) and become a caddy but Tommy wanted more. When fully grown, Tommy Jr. begins competing in the Caddy Open and then the Open Championship and before we’ve even come to know him as a character, we watch him triumph as champion, off screen, at the famed St. Andrew golf course three times.
Soon Tommy is challenging societal norms by demanding that he and a fellow golfer and friend be properly compensated by the clubhouse elite who profit off their play through gambling and exhibitions. For a moment, you begin to think this will bring conflict to the story but no, the elite, led by a snobbish Sam Neill, roll over immediately and pay Tommy fairly.
Then Tommy meets a lovely scullery maid named Meg with a dark past played by Ophelia Lovibond. With the Scottish class system, as it is, Meg’s past should provide conflict and indeed, Tommy’s mother objects to the relationship. However, in less than 15 minutes’ screen time, I was bored enough to keep count, Mom rolls over and another potential source of drama is dismissed with mom even leaving the church to stand up for her son and new daughter in-law, after one brief conversation with her husband and a single entreaty about how their son loves this woman despite what society says.
It isn’t until the final act that anything happens to Tommy. Tommy suffers a serious tragedy and his life falls to pieces but somehow “Tommy’s Honour” never communicates that tragedy, preferring the dull safety of the golf course where Tommy once again tops an opponent we never meet and thus have zero investment in. If the movie doesn’t care about these opponents, then why should we care? They are there to lose to Tommy, to further the legend building that is the film’s true aim. The final match should feel big and important but as portrayed, it’s a contest of egos that leads to an ending that feels more like stubborn inflexibility than the tragedy the true story was.
“Tommy’s Honour” is yet another in a long line of bad biopics. The film has no life, no courage. The aim of the filmmakers is to deify a Scottish legend and that might work for someone who is desperately invested in the story of Tommy Morris Jr. but as drama it fails completely. Drama needs tension, it needs stakes, it needs something for the audience to connect to, some relatable experience. If your story revolves around a character who is perfect and whose life constantly works out well for most of the story there is no drama. Sure, Tommy’s life ended tragically but even that tragedy is pushed aside in favor of showing what a golf legend he was and that renders an interesting life rather incredibly boring.

 

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Regional Media Movie Review The Fate of The Furious

The Fate of the Furious stars Vin Diesel once again as Dominic Torretto, street racer turned thief turned secret agent kind of(?) who, along with his 'family,' including Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese and the aptly named Ludicris, battle a cyber-terrorist played by Charlize Theron. The twist however, has Dom playing for the other team and his family have to battle him to get to the big bad. Here's my review of The Fate of the Furious. 

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Regional Media Movie Review Smurfs The Lost Village

Nothing against the wonderfully talented Neil Patrick Harris, but I was very happy not to see him in the latest iteration of The Smurfs franchise. For all his immense talent, Harris never belonged in a Smurfs movie, nor did anything else from real world New York for that matter. Taking The Smurfs out of Smurf Village to the non-animated New York City was a terribly unnecessary gimmick that drowned the first cinematic outings of our beloved blue heroes.
Back in the animated world of the forest and Smurfs Village, the new animated adventure “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is not all that much better than the previous two Smurfs outings but better enough to warrant taking note.
Smurfette (Demi Lovato) is struggling with her identity. For those not familiar with the background of the only female Smurf, Smurfette was created by Gargamel as a honeytrap intended to lead him to the Smurf Village where he hoped to capture Smurfs and steal their magic. Fortunately, the Smurfs won Smurfette over and instead of helping Gargamel, here voiced by Rain Wilson, she became a member of their family.
Still, despite the love and support of all of the Smurfs, the guidance from Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin), the friendship of Hefty (Joe Manganiello), Brainy (Danny Pudi) and Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) and the acceptance of the rest of the Smurfs, Smurfette can’t shake the sense that there is something missing from her story. When she gets lost in the forest while playing with her friends she encounters for the first time a Smurf unlike her brothers and a new adventure is begun.
The Lost Village of the title is a village filled with female Smurfs including Smurf’s voiced by Julia Roberts, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper and popstar Meghan Trainor. Naturally, there are around 100 of these female Smurfs because there are around 100 of the boy Smurfs and reinforcing gender norms is kind of part of the package for this film. I will leave it to you to decide if you want to take offense to that or not, I merely took note of it.
As I mentioned earlier, this version of The Smurfs is only a minor improvement over the first two live action/animated hybrids. I’m very happy they ditched the live action but I wish they could have added a few more laughs to the mix. Smurfs: The Lost Village is not very with laughs coming a distant second to the visual razzle dazzle and a couple of modestly rousing action set pieces, the best involving a magical river and a very small raft.
It’s just unfortunate that the film lacks laughter. I could count on one hand, not using all the fingers on that hand, the number of laugh out loud moments in Smurfs: The Lost Village. The film comes from director Kelly Asbury who garnered a great deal more laughter from his work on Shrek 2 and more action from his Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Here, Asbury never seems to find the right tone for The Smurfs, the action is fine but the Smurfs isn’t an adventure series, it’s a children’s comedy and this isn’t very funny.
And when I say Smurfs: The Lost Village isn’t funny; I am being very serious. The movie takes a turn in the 3rd act that I will say is quite bold and unexpected but may have the child core of the Smurfs audience very upset. Parents will want to be prepared, the dramatic turn of the third act of The Lost Village will be one that young children may be deeply affected by.
So, do I recommend Smurfs The Lost Village? I didn’t hate the movie but I don’t think it’s very good. It needs more laughs, the last act is borderline disturbing for young audiences but, for the most part the film is inoffensive and may be quite funny to a child, if rather tedious to an adult. The last act could be a little scary for the youngest moviegoers, but this is a Smurfs movie so you can trust that the scarring is minor and well healed by the ending.

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