robin hood featurette

The latest iteration of Robin Hood opens with our hero (Taron Egerton) receiving a letter of conscription into the Crusades, and being thrust directly into the middle of an Iraq War allegory. Robin and his men are dressed in clothes that resemble bulletproof vests, and fire off arrows with such force and speed that director Otto Bathurst might as well have gone all the way and had them toting guns.

It’s a nuttiness and strain for modernity (and modern relevance) that persists throughout the entire film, and perhaps the only thing about Robin Hood that justifies the opening voiceover that claims this to be a Robin Hood we’ve never seen before. On a strictly technical level, no, we’ve never seen this version of Robin Hood’s story before, but we have seen everything that happens in the film in almost every big blockbuster before this.

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Nutcracker and the Four Realms Review

Whatever algorithm it is through which modern Disney movies are made (young women whose smarts are demonstrated by a penchant for tinkering, a missing parent, dubious authority figures, a cast peppered with recognizable stars), it’s hit a high point with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Though the film occasionally descends into the same CGI soup that made the recent Beauty and the Beast so baffling, it manages to keep a firmer grip on reality — which means that its flights into fancy are that much more of a delight.

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goosebumps 2 trailer

The first Goosebumps movie was great. It was fun — and just spooky enough — with enough to keep both kids and adults entertained throughout. As R.L. Stine’s creations came to life to terrorize the town of Madison, Delaware, the film, directed by Rob Letterman, retained enough spark and originality (and nostalgia for Stine’s works) to make it a genuinely good time. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween comes across as an attempt to replicate the formula, and not necessarily in a good way.

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Early on in Crazy Rich Asians, one of the text messages that fly across the screen includes the slang term “lah.” The discourse marker, primarily used in South-East Asia, doesn’t have a specific meaning so much as it’s used to indicate tone or emphasis. The Urban Dictionary definition of the term explains that it’s used by those “who aren’t too shy to let their Asian roots shine with pride.” Though Urban Dictionary isn’t a source I’d ordinarily cite, in this case, its definition seems almost too perfect not to mention.

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the spy who dumped me clip

There’s a particular Onion article that I refer back to constantly. It’s titled “Female Friends Spend Raucous Night Validating The Living Shit Out Of Each Other,” and it makes me laugh every time I think about it because, as with all great jokes, it’s funny because it’s based in some nugget of truth.

The Spy Who Dumped Me manages to get at a similar fundamental truth. It’s a little long, and there are some bits that are fairly obviously punch-up, but its portrayal of female friendship as something empowering and good rather than a punchline is (while not as rare as it used to be) touching to see. Though the movie’s plot, as suggested by its title, treads spy thriller territory as filtered through a rom-com/buddy comedy lens, when you boil it down to its basic parts, it’s a film about a woman helping her best friend get over a break-up. As ridiculous as it may get, it still feels true.

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christopher robin trailer

When I first saw Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are, I cried through almost the entire film. That said, the mixed reception it received didn’t surprise me. Its intended audience — to my mind, at least — didn’t dovetail with the market it was being sold to; despite being based on a children’s book, it wasn’t a movie meant for kids. It was a story about growing up told by someone who already had, and told to someone of the same age.

All of this to say: I thought about Where the Wild Things Are at a few points throughout Disney’s most recent outing to the Hundred Acre Wood, Christopher Robin, directed by Marc Forster, which exists somewhere between being geared for kids and geared for adults. But Christopher Robin is a much stranger creature (in the best possible way as it is singularly lovely) – it features frankly devastating stretches of melancholy and refuses to make any easy prescription for the anxieties of adulthood, all of which is punctuated by comic moments that range from being deliriously funny to tonal misfires. That imbalance isn’t, however, something I’m inclined to hold against the film. Its messiness works for it.

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Mamma Mia Here We Go Again Review

If I didn’t know any better, I would say that the Mamma Mia movies are in a genre of their own. There’s no real reason for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again to exist — it feels improbable that it exists at all, as a prequel-sequel of a movie spawned from a musical spawned from the songs of a Swedish pop group. It has no real stakes, next to no story, and barely any connective tissue holding it together. Even the trailers were baffling, as Meryl Streep’s conspicuous absence from them begged the question of whether or not Donna had kicked the bucket between Mamma Mias one and two.

But it hardly matters. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, directed by Ol Parker (Imagine Me & You, both Exotic Marigold Hotel movies), is a complete delight. I laughed, I gasped, and I cried, as did the entire screening audience I watched the film with. How many other films can boast that kind of a balancing act?

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About halfway through Mission: Impossible – Fallout, I found myself thinking that I’d happily watch Tom Cruise run for the film’s entire duration. In fairness, that’s pretty much what he does as he reprises the role of Ethan Hunt, but I mean it literally. Tom Cruise runs with the kind of mania that means it’s unsurprising he broke his ankle leaping from building to building while filming Fallout — and then kept running in order to save the take — or that he actually jumped out of a plane at 25,000 feet for another sequence in the movie. He runs so fast that it’s impossible not to go along with him. (And he knows it, too. His Twitter and Instagram bios read: “Running in movies since 1981.”)

That energy sustains almost the entirety of Fallout. Directed by Rogue Nation’s Christopher McQuarrie, Fallout does nothing if not cement Mission: Impossible as the greatest franchise we currently have, and manages it by leaning fully into the near-demented earnestness given tangible shape in Cruise’s running. It hurtles along at such a breakneck speed that it might as well combust, and that even talking about it almost feels like spoiling it, as the temptation is to name every insane set piece in simple awe.

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The First Purge Review

When I saw The Purge: Anarchy in 2014, it shook me so badly that I genuinely feared I was going to be “purged” while walking back to my friend’s car in the movie theater parking lot. The franchise, which posits a future in which all crime is legal for 12 hours out of every year for reasons that have slowly been spun into clarity, had me hooked. Its approach to horror — socially and politically conscious horror, as it were — was effective, and if the third installment in the series, 2016’s The Purge: Election Year was a bit more blunt in its political underpinnings, it made up for it in how it spun the American political climate into a Grand Guignol spectacle. As such, I had high hopes for The First Purge.

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Sicario: Day of the Soldado Review

In some alternate universe, there is a version of The Revenant that stars Benicio Del Toro. It’s easy to picture while watching Sicario: Day of the Soldado. As Alejandro, the near-superhuman hitman introduced in the first Sicario (2015), cuts a swath of destruction through Mexico, he faces greater and bloodier odds, to the point that it becomes almost laughable. That isn’t a bad thing in and of itself; the problem is that this is a Sicario that wants to be a Logan. Unfortunately, superimposing Western tropes and a sudden heart-of-gold narrative onto a film that doesn’t really fit into those constraints — and doesn’t benefit from them, either — is a losing game.

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