new star wars image

On Monday night, I was very fortunate to attend the world premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Hollywood. To say this film is highly anticipated for me is an understatement. This is without a doubt the most anticipated film of not just the year but of my lifetime. I’m a huge Star Wars fanatic, and I’m a big fan of JJ Abrams (warts and all), so my expectations were already higher than the buildings on Cloud City.

After the jump you can read my initial reaction to the film, completely free of spoilers of any kind. Did the film live up to my expectations? Find out in my Force Awakens spoiler free review.

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creed review

Creed is a very, very good movie… but it’s a perfect Rocky movie. Here is that familiar, tried and true template given a fresh coat of paint and lovingly restored by people who give a damn. If you’ve ever liked any of the films in this series, this spin-off is going to get your blood pumping and eyes leaking. It’s the movie you want.

However, the real miracle of Creed is that isn’t anything like the Rocky sequels. The follow-ups to the original masterpiece (which is one of the best movies ever made) took a turn for the ridiculous. They got silly and began to lean too hard on series star Sylvester Stallone‘s action hero persona. The warmth, the charm, and the honesty of the first film was resurrected for 2006’s Rocky Balboa, but it’s back in full force in Creed. This spin-off, which finds an aging Rocky training the son of the late Apollo Creed, is second only to the first movie, and that’s because it recognizes what the first movie did so right.

Like them or not (and Rocky III and Rocky IV do offer some absurd pleasures), the Rocky sequels feel like Saturday morning cartoon versions of a genuinely great movie. Creed does the impossible: it coexists with them while avoiding everything they did wrong.

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Concussion review

The last film we saw with director Peter Landesman‘s name on it was Kill the Messenger, which he scripted. That drama shares a lot in common with Landesman’s sophomore directorial effort, Concussion. Both follow real-life who heroes are simply trying to speak the truth, and yet are treated as villains. Kill the Messenger is the more successful of the two stories, though. Although Concussion is a well-meaning and an undeniably important film, it’s also a by-the-numbers, dramatically frustrating underdog story.

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The Big Short review

There is a real anger and sadness to The Big Short, and as wild and as funny as the movie is, the humor never makes light of or sugarcoats the 2008 financial crisis. The humor, if anything, heightens the drama and the pain we see in co-writer/director Adam McKay‘s (Step Brothers) uproarious dramedy.

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Carol Review

Director Todd Haynes often explores repressed desires and emotions. Velvet GoldmineFar from Heaven, and Haynes’ other pictures share themes of what people choose to hide from the world. The conflicts their characters face are always presented with sensitivity and thoughtfulness — a deep understanding of the pain or joy in their lives. Once again, with Carol, Haynes digs deep under the skin of his characters.

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spectre reviews

I still remember how dazzled I was when Casino Royale first burst onto the scene in 2006. Gone was the campy, suave, gadget-y Bond of years past. In its place was Daniel Craig, a chiseled, rugged specimen of a man. Craig brought an amazing physicality and gravity to the role. The message was clear: This was a Bond for a new age — an age when spying was no longer some exotic gig just to get women and save the world, but a task that would brutalize you emotionally and take away everything you loved.

The Daniel Craig-era Bond films have been uneven at best, but I don’t think anything could’ve prepared me for Spectre. This movie takes a massive step in the wrong direction for the series: towards camp. Hit my jump for my full video review.
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by the sea review

By the Sea is very much an art film. Angelina Jolie Pitt‘s romance wears its European influences on its sleeve, but some American titles come to mind while watching the writer/director’s third film: What About Bob? and the work of Mike Nichols (Carnal KnowledgeCloser). The former title may appear odd, but By the Sea is about characters trying “get away from it all” in paradise. Unlike Bob, these characters can’t take a vacation from their problems. Their bags — full of cigarettes, a typewriter, and impeccable clothing — aren’t the only baggage these tired lovers bring with them on their getaway.

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‘Supergirl’ Struggles to Take Flight [Review]

Supergirl

Note: Supergirl premieres tonight on CBS. Below is our original review of the pilot, which ran in July during San Diego Comic-Con.

In a TV landscape littered with superhero shows, Supergirl stands out in a couple of ways. For one thing, it’s the rare superhero show that’s about a superheroine. For another, whereas most of those other dramas tend toward the dark and brooding, Supergirl is mostly bubbly and upbeat — just like its plucky heroine Kara, played by the radiant Melissa Benoist.

But for a show to succeed, it can’t just capture the audience’s interest, it has to sustain it. On that front, Supergirl unfortunately struggles by prioritizing plot over characterization.   Read More »

spectre reviews

The first reviews for Spectre have begun to trickle out of the United Kingdom, where the latest James Bond adventure opens nearly two weeks before it makes its North American bow. As you’d expect from a series that has such a passionate following – every movie fan has a different idea of what a 007 film should be – the reviews have been all over the place. Some critics say it’s as good as Skyfall! While others say that, ugh, it’s only as good as Skyfall.

While the responses have been generally all over the place, most of them lean positive and there are more than a few raves. At the very least, everyone agrees that Daniel Craig remains a top-notch Bond, even if the movie he’s is a little too long or if director Sam Mendes‘ action a little too bombastic.

Check out some of the early Spectre reviews for yourself after the jump.

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