Category Archives: movies

Dark Phoenix

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And there it goes, the X-Men franchise, out with a whimper. Dark Phoenix, the final film in the FOX reign for our mutant heroes, is a dull, lifeless affair filled with a bunch of decent actors slumming it for one final paycheck. Perhaps one day we’ll get a retelling of one of the best comic book stories of all time, but with two bites at that apple it’s doubtful it will be any time soon. It’s a shame, because in the right hands, this could’ve been a lot more interesting, but really I’ve never fully bought into the FOX group of movies. For every perfectly understood character like Wolverine, there’s an abortion of character like Kitty Pryde (not your fault, Ellen Page). But I digress.

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Booksmart

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It’s so rare to have a movie that charms so instantly and consistently throughout the whole thing. Booksmart is that special gem that is so nearly perfect that it’s difficult to find anything bad to say about it. Really, everything in this movie worked so well for me that the bar has now been set for the number one spot on my list for the year. Really, it’s that good, just a hilarious joy from start to finish.

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Aladdin

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I know I’m not the target audience for these live-action Disney remakes of their classic movies, but honestly who asked for these? While it’s an interesting way to capitalize on their IP, and given the time since the original, it’s not a ridiculous notion to put something related to the title back in the universe, this just feels wholly unnecessary. Their latest, Aladdin, falls somewhere between awkward spectacle and cringe-inducing Bollywood homage.

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

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I’m new to the John Wick universe, having eschewed the franchise the first time out because all I knew about it was his dog died, and that kept me away until now. This week I devoured all three, and with most things like this, I found the first one interesting (and the dog part not as bad as it was in my head), the second one the best, and diminishing returns on the latest installment, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (a cumbersome title if ever there was). While it still offers plenty of the death and dismemberment that is synonymous with the Wick name, in this installment John has now gone full super hero and in order to keep the franchise going, nothing means anything and there are no consequences that make any difference for our hero.

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Avengers: Endgame (spoiler version)

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After the fervor around Endgame has settled down and everyone and their brother has seen the movie (twice), I thought I’d discuss the film in a bit more depth and go full-on spoilers. If you’re one of the six people that haven’t seen it and actually care, stop reading now.

After twenty-two movies, thirty-some main characters and over a decade of character growth and plot twists leading into this movie, directors Joe and Anthony Russo have really achieved the impossible: they made a mostly satisfying, surprising, and certainly worthy culmination to the Avengers saga that began all the way back in 2008 with the first Iron Man. Every issue I had with last year’s Infinity War (and there were a lot) seemed to be addressed here in one form or another. Instead of tackling the movie in order, I’m just going to separate everything by topic.

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Extremely Wicked, Shocking Evil and Vile

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Former teen heartthrob Zac Efron has done everything he can to shed his High School Musical baggage, and he’s done a good job of making interesting choices, leaning into his chiseled features and roguish charm while playing against type. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile follows Efron as Ted Bundy, the notorious serial killer who was finally brought to justice. While the movie purports to be about Liz Kendall (Lily Collins), Ted’s ex-girlfriend and the one who tipped off police to his presence, he doesn’t seem that interested in her as a person, but only her connection to the handsome murderer.

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Wine Country

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What a shocking and unexpected waste of talent, both in front of the camera and behind. Wine Country is well intentioned, but it feels like they shot a first draft and planned to put all the jokes in another version. It doesn’t make any sense how you get arguably the best female comedy talent out there (save Melissa McCarthy, Christina Applegate and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and whiff it with such a lackluster, uninteresting tale of female friendship in adulthood.

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Under the Silver Lake

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Picture a Hollywood noir film, that is an homage to Hitchcock through the mind of David Lynch, and that’s kind of what you get with Under the Silver Lake. Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, who rose to prominence with his indie horror flick It Follows, Silver Lake follows Andrew Garfield’s Sam, an out-of-work douchebag who is intrigued by Sarah (Riley Keough), a neighbor in his apartment complex who goes missing the day after he meets her. Oh, there’s also a serial dog killer, a naked Owl Lady, a piano man responsible for every song in the history of pop music, and even that is still barely scratching the surface.

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Avengers: Endgame

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It’s nearly impossible to review a film like this, where it is the culmination of over ten years of story, through nearly twenty-one films prior (a lot of the previous films have an important role to play in this one, in ways they never had before). At a certain point, everything about the film is a spoiler, and I won’t be a party to that, but I’ll do a quick spoiler-free commentary and will follow up in a couple weeks with more specific thoughts.

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Shazam!

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There are really three different movies at work in Shazam!, the latest effort in the DC film universe. It’s part family drama, part horror flick, and part superhero fluff, and really only the superhero part of that works to some degree. Thankfully, eschewing the broody nature of the Zack Snyder era of films, and echoing the lighter approach of Wonder Woman and Aquaman, the film is cute and fun, but also convoluted and forced, elevated by two main performances, and hindered by nearly everything else.

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