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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Juuso Laatio and Jukka Vidgren’s Heavy Trip blast-beats a warrior’s drum for road-trippin’ comedics and heavy metal odysseys. This is a story of companionship bonded by outsider dismissal; a blossoming “Symphonic Post-Apocalyptic Reindeer-Grinding Christ-Abusing Extreme War Pagan Fennoscandian” metal band ready to break from their basement shackles. Laatio and Vidgren respect Nordic brands of face-melting musicianship rooted in mythology and “crappy fantasy novels” as Deathgasm does, except with a more Anchorman approach (animal fights, national crises, etc). To quote Jason Lei Howden’s equally amplified metal adventure, this hilarious endeavor isn’t just brutal – it’s “brutal as fuck!”

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Five years ago, Steven Soderbergh directed what he’d said would be his cinematic swan song. Side Effects, ostensibly about a woman who reacts quite poorly to some medication she was prescribed by a sweaty British doctor, was a nasty piece of work that featured one of Jude Law’s more underrated performances. If Side Effects was really Soderbergh’s last feature, it would’ve been a fine note on which to exit. Instead, last summer, the auteur returned with the goofy and charming Logan Lucky. His own luck has, temporarily, evaporated with Unsane, which is a highly idiotic inversion of Side Effects.

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After five years of waiting, Pacific Rim Uprising is finally hitting theaters. The sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 sci-fi action extravaganza brings Star Wars lead John Boyega into the mix as Jake Pentecost, the son of Idris Elba’s deceased character from the first film. This time, the humans are prepared for the return of the giant, city-demolishing monsters known as kaiju, but are critics prepared for a sequel that is out of the hands of monster master Guillermo del Toro?

The first Pacific Rim Uprising reviews are in, and it sounds like the sequel from director Steven S. DeKnight may not be as good as its predecessor, but fans will still have a good time in the end. However, they apparently have to suffer through a boring first half before they get there. Get the full scoop with the Pacific Rim Uprising early buzz below. Read More »

Wildling Review

Wildling is Fritz Böhm’s first feature film, and it’s such an assured debut, darkly mystical and elegant. This nighttime fairy tale tells the story of Anna (Bel Powley), a young woman who’s spent much of her life locked in a room like Rapunzel, with only “Daddy” (Lord of the RingsBrad Dourif, in an equally untrustworthy role) as company.

Daddy treats Anna with tenderness, warning her against “the wildling” that stalks the woods surrounding their remote fairy tale tower. He seems loving and protective – but he’s also keeping Anna in seclusion. We watch her grow from toddlerhood to young womanhood in the confines of the same tiny room – and all the while we keep seeing Daddy inject a mysterious substance into Anna’s tummy. These opening scenes are disorienting, diving right into the narrative instead of offering any tidy context, immediately eliciting intrigue and perplexity from the audience. The context comes later, as Wildling’s story grows clearer but never less strange. Read More »

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Film Criticism Video Essay

Film criticism matters! Shout it from the rooftops. That said, there seems to be a common misconception about what film criticism even is. An informative new film criticism video essay attempts to get to the bottom of just what criticism is, and why it’s important.

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first light review

As this generation’s filmmakers attempt to create their own superhero origin stories without going through Marvel or DC, Jason Stone’s First Light succeeds by blending Chronicle with YA romance. Hard sci-fi elements that limit themselves to rural country suburbs before breaking out like a conspiracy containment gone wrong. As illuminations flicker and cosmic mysteries unravel, a relationship between boy and girl remains thematically intrinsic – powers exist, but effects needn’t overshadow story. Not to suggest a boring watch by any means – it’s just nice to see the unknown be mixed with tender crafts.

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brothers' nest review

There’s no such thing as the perfect crime and this is doubly true in the movies. The Australian thriller Brothers’ Nest is built around a seemingly perfect criminal plot that turns out to be spectacularly imperfect once a rogue element or two enter the equation. You’ve seen this set-up before and you’ve seen it before because it works. We like to watch perfect structures tumble. It’s why we slow down at car accidents. And the duration of Brothers’ Nest is spent watching the car slide toward catatastrophe in ultra-slow motion. We await the final impact. We know it’s going to be painful. And then it is.

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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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