Den of Thieves Review

It’s hard to make a bad Gerard Butler movie.

This isn’t to say that none of his movies are bad. Rather, Gerard Butler is the kind of actor so willing to ham it up that nothing he’s in is ever a complete waste of time. He’s committed to the point that I’ve long considered him a better actor than he’s generally given credit for (or given the roles to prove), though he seems to be doing perfectly well in the gregarious tough guy niche he’s carved out for himself.

Unfortunately, Den of Thieves is the kind of slog that almost completely runs out that goodwill.

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Blindspotting review

Remember the name Daveed Diggs, because if the Hollywood gods have any sense of justice, this guy is about to blow up in a major way. Fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway smash hit Hamilton are already familiar with Diggs (he played the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in that show), but in Blindspotting, the opening night movie of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Diggs establishes himself as a talented multi-hyphenate who should be at the top of every casting director’s list for years to come.

And while Diggs is terrific in the film, it’s not only a good movie simply because he’s good in it. This is an ambitious film with a lot to say, and director Carlos Lopez Estrada pulls off an impressive high-wire act of balancing drama, humor, and suspense throughout. Put this one on your radar now, because you’re going to want to make sure you see this when it eventually comes to theaters. Read More »

12 Strong Trailer

Two questions inevitably crop up as a movie based on a true story unfolds. First, how much of what’s happening on screen is actually what happened in real life? Second, how much of what happened in real life can translate into something dramatically interesting? The new war film 12 Strong begins with a compelling enough hook, following a dozen U.S. soldiers who were the first men to attempt to take down the Taliban in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Unfortunately, while the real events indeed seem fascinating, they don’t make for a compelling film.

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The Road Movie review

The Road Movie is more of a YouTube compilation than a documentary.

If you’ve spent any time on the internet, you may have come across some of the many, many compilation videos of cars getting into accidents. What you may not know is that most of them come from Russian dashcam cameras. The Road Movie is nothing but 70 minutes of this footage, loosely tied together without much of a narrative string. For some viewers, that will be more than enough. A handpicked collection of some of the most extreme moments ever seen from a car? It’s intense in ways that no fictional film could ever be, and guaranteed to show you things you will (hopefully) never face. On the flipside, it’s an invasive look into people’s lives, making you a peeping tom giddy to see the next accident.

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mom and dad review

Note: This Mom and Dad review is as spoiler-free as possible, but some minor spoilers do pop up.

At this point in his career, Nicolas Cage has become meme-ified to the point where it’s hard to know where the real Cage ends and his pop-eyed, shrill-screaming on-screen persona begins. This isn’t to call Cage a bad actor – indeed, he’s a phenomenal actor, and capable of turning in subtle, quiet performances (see: Bringing Out the Dead). But here, in the early 21st century, it’s safe to say that when audiences seek out a Nicolas Cage movie, they’re looking for Cage at his Cage-iest. They want the actor to be literally bouncing off the walls.

Folks will get that, and more, when they watch Brian Taylor’s frenetic, manic horror-comedy Mom and Dad. Taylor, who was one-half of the directors who birthed the loony Crank series, brings the thudding cuts and wild edits of that aforementioned series to Mom and Dad; whether or not this is the type of film that needs such things is another question, however.

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The long-delayed Inside (À l’intérieur) remake is finally ready to see the light of day. What this Inside remake review presupposes is…maybe that’s not such a good thing?

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the commuter trailer

At this point, Liam Neeson movies are practically a genre unto themselves, and Liam Neeson-Jaume Collet-Serra movies are quite possibly their apex. The Commuter is one of the best of the bunch. Even though it’s not really anything you haven’t seen before, Neeson’s commitment to the role and Collet-Serra’s at times inspired direction make for a movie that’s hell on wheels. Sure, you can see some of the twists coming from a mile away, but it’s a forgivable sin when they’re executed with so much panache.

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Paddington 2 Warner Bros

Any film critic worth his or her salt will tell you that January is a pretty rough month for new releases. It’s a month marked by high-profile films from the previous year expanding around the country as they aim to get awards attention. Rare is the January release that rises above the status of being forgettable. But rare too is the sequel that improves upon its predecessor, and yet, here we are with the North American release of the utterly delightful Paddington 2. Bringing together many of the key players from the delightful 2015 original, Paddington 2 doubles down on the previous film’s many charms, introduces a cheeky new villain, and is thoroughly giddy fun.

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all the money in the world review

Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World begins with a monologue from John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) in which he explains to the audience that the sheer amount of money that the Gettys possessed might as well have meant that they came from a different planet. “We look like you,” he says, “But we’re not like you.” And indeed they aren’t. When Paul is kidnapped and his mother Gail (Michelle Williams) tries to contact his grandfather (Christopher Plummer) for the $17 million ransom, J. Paul Getty refuses. As he tells his advisor (Mark Wahlberg), it’s not that he doesn’t have the money. It’s just that he doesn’t have the money to spare.

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Review

I may be speaking too much in haste, but I feel reasonably confident in saying that Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is the most pure fun I’ve had at a movie in 2017. I laughed to the point that I felt compelled to apologize to my seatmates once the credits rolled, I involuntarily gasped out loud at a plot twist I probably should have seen coming, and I wasn’t bored for even a minute of the movie’s two-hour runtime. In short: Jumanji is a blast. No, it isn’t in contention with, say, The Shape of Water or The Post, but does it have to be?

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