Tag review

Tag is built on a foundation that most will likely find familiar. A bunch of childhood friends, now in middle age, persist in playing a game of tag despite the growing distance — literal and metaphorical — between them. In other words, it’s another tale of arrested development. But it’s got a few distinct things going for it that set it apart from the rest of the crowd.

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Hotel Artemis Review

Every character in Hotel Artemis is operating on a different wavelength and, to quote an old Bethesda answer, it seems to be both a feature and a bug.

Part of it has to do with the movie’s premise. The hotel is a hospital for criminals, and in exchange for keeping up with their membership fees and surrendering their weapons before coming in, they get patched up and left alone for the duration of their stay. As such, it makes sense that the rogue’s gallery that’s assembled in Drew Pearce’s film would all be working towards their own ends instead of presenting a unified front, but the sense of fracturing runs a little deeper than that. These performances all belong in different movies.

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Solo Review 2

There will always be something transporting about the music that John Williams has composed for the Star Wars universe. As soon as the old themes and styles of orchestrations (lavish strings, sharp brass) kick in during Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, it’s difficult not to feel a little jolt of excitement — or hope.

The key to the film — to my eye, at least — is that feeling. When Solo works, it soars, but it’s more to do with making what’s being retread feel fresh (not just in terms of familiar property but in terms of its coming-of-age — or perhaps more accurately, coming-of-scruffy-looking-nerfherder — plot) than dazzling audiences with any new material. What purer joy is there, after all, than a romp through space, species, and systems?

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Overboard Trailer

As is perhaps only fitting for a romantic comedy, there’s a lot to love in the new Overboard. Lest we forget, the main reason the original Overboard (released in 1987) works is through sheer force of charm — Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell are unstoppable. But even so, it’s not a film that plays particularly well to a modern audience. A man kidnapping an amnesiac woman to turn her into a housewife is creepy at best. The kiss that Russell plants on Hawn when he comes to pick her up at the hospital is just the tip of the iceberg. As such, it’s difficult (in a vacuum, at least), to imagine a remake going well. But Anna Faris and Eugenio Derbez, under the direction of Rob Greenberg, have made something great.

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‘Rampage’ Review: A Big, Dumb, Not-So-Fun Cartoon

I can’t tell whether there’s too much rampaging in Rampage, or not enough. The only thing I am sure about is that it takes too long to get to the rampaging. Rampaging is, after all, the number one thing that Rampage has going for it — exposition and set-up aren’t exactly the draw of a movie like this.

For anyone for whom the title isn’t a sufficient description of what you’re getting into, suffice to say that Rampage is a good old-fashioned monster movie. A mysterious serum gets cooked up in a lab in outer space via CRISPR gene editing (which is a real thing), and when things on the station go awry, canisters of the serum plummet down to Earth. Those canisters, in turn, infect a few animals, causing them to grow in size and throwing a few other genetic mutations into the mix. And then, well, you know.

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If I tried to explain the premise of Blockers and then followed it up with, “I liked it,” you’d probably think I’d gone a little crazy. After all, there’s nothing about Blockers — from its trailers to its title (the shortened and clean version of “cockblockers”) — that would suggest it’s as good as it is.

The premise is this: three girls, about to graduate from high school and go to college, make a pact to lose their virginities on prom night. Their parents, who find out about the pact pretty much right after the girls have left the house, set out to stop them. I had my doubts, too — it sounds sexist and regressive! — but Kay Cannon, in an impressive directorial debut, has managed to craft something charming and fresh.

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Pacific Rim Uprising TV spot Jaegers

Somewhere around the halfway mark of director Steven S. DeKnight‘s Pacific Rim Uprising, my groans of exasperation turned into gasps of delight. I can pinpoint the exact moment in which my opinion of the movie changed, but so as not to spoil what is genuinely one of the strangest scenes in a blockbuster in recent memory, let me just say that once Pacific Rim Uprising really starts drinking its own Kool-Aid, it’s an absolute joy. Given the visually and narratively incoherent mess that is the Transformers franchise (the closest thing that Pacific Rim has to a genre competitor except perhaps Power Rangers), I’d call it a feat. It’s just a wonder that the Toei Animation logo isn’t slapped all over it.

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Tomb Raider trailer

Alicia Vikander kicks ass. No matter what you may think of the new Tomb Raider, it can’t be said that Vikander hasn’t put in the work to play Lara Croft. From the moment she shows up on screen, training in a boxing ring, it’s clear that this is a woman who can handle herself. No, she’s not invincible — later on in the film, she’s almost completely incapacitated by a piece of debris going through her stomach — this is a movie, not a game. It’s not like she can operate in film on hit points and extra lives.

The only pity is that she’s stuck in a movie (directed by Roar Uthaug) that’s about as precarious as some of the traps she has to navigate when she’s finally thrust into a tomb.

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It’s difficult not to describe Love, Simon in contradictory terms. To put it as simply as possible: it’s extraordinary for just how ordinary it is. If one were to point out its faults, they would be the same as any other mainstream teen coming-of-age movie. Maybe it’s a little glib, maybe it bucks realism for dramatic effect, maybe it doesn’t really take any risks — isn’t it more important that this movie is so profoundly normal when its star (by Hollywood’s metrics) is so rare?

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annihilation the shimmer

Early in Alex Garland’s adaptation of Annihilation, the five women sent to explore the environmental disaster zone known as the Shimmer wake to discover that they’ve lost time. It’s not that they’ve overslept or miscalculated their route through the growth. They’ve simply forgotten. They don’t remember setting up camp, nor how they got to where they are, but their diminished rations suggest that they’ve been traveling for a few days already. Maybe saying that they’ve lost time is incorrect — rather, the Shimmer has taken time from them.

It’s a small moment, but it’s terrifically unsettling, and easily one of the best moments in the film. Annihilation’s most wonderful parts are all similarly elegant and strange, embracing mystery without feeling the need to overexplain it. The movie plays like a dream, at times verging upon a nightmare as layers of the unknown peel back to reveal something both completely alien and horrifyingly familiar underneath. But there’s still something missing. The problem is not that there’s no explanation for it all. It’s that it’s not explored deeply enough. Is it greedy of me to have wished for more?

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