new year new you review

Blumhouse’s 2019 starts by taking one companywide step forward with their latest Into The Dark chapter. After critical reports identified a striking gender differential between The House Of Toby’s horror director hires, after Jason Blum’s interesting-at-best response, Sophia Takal becomes the brand’s first female filmmaker (*on a horror title*) with New Year, New You. In this entry: Instagram celebrity culture roasted on a spit and stuffed with false personality rage that mocks the charades some enact to seek mass marketed attention.

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Replicas Trailer

In case you were curious, Replicas is a Christmas movie. You may find that fact, or the fact that multiple scenes in this sci-fi thriller reference the holiday season or literally take place at a Christmas tree-shopping site in Puerto Rico, superfluous or inexplicable. Perhaps I’ve buried the lede, because you see, Replicas itself is quite inexplicable. Here, we have the first wide-release contender of 2019 for the title of Most Utterly Bizarre Film of the Year. There’s no sane metric under which I could recommend this film, but its badness is quite the thing to behold.

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A Dog's Way Home review

A Dog’s Way Home is a Hallmark card of a movie — it’s pretty and cute, but it’s full of empty emotion. Until about two-thirds of the way through the film when you realize that there may be a surprisingly dark hidden message scribbled in the corner by an embittered card maker.

Penned by the writers of 2017’s saccharine super-hit A Dog’s Purpose, W. Bruce Cameron and Cathryn Michon, A Dog’s Way Home treads a similar path. There’s a wholesome story about a loyal dog (voiced with an extra-sweet lilt by Bryce Dallas Howard) that will overcome any obstacles to make its way back to its loving owner, here an aspiring medical student named Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King). But this is no sequel — you can look to the similarly blandly named novel A Dog’s Journey later this spring for that — this is a whole new beast. And it’s weirdly dark.

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the upside review

Movies like The Upside come package-wrapped, with a painful and unavoidable sense of over-familiarity. It seems to exist less as a natural combination of talent, than as a way for a studio to check off a series of boxes. Based on a true story? Check. Featuring a comedian in a somewhat dramatic role? Check. Depicting an endearing but unexpected core relationship? Check. Including mismatched characters who come to a mutual understanding of respect after strife? Check. And a remake of a well-liked French film? More of a trend from the 1980s, but still: check.

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glass review

With GlassM. Night Shyamalan brings together the worlds of Unbreakable and Split, and the result is depressing and disappointing. After regaining most of his directorial mojo with his most recent work, Shyamalan now takes a huge, unfortunate step backwards, tarnishing the legacy of Unbreakable, his best movie, in the process.

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escape room review

There’s something extra frustrating about wasted potential, especially when it comes to a movie. A film that’s bad from start to finish is easy to shrug off and forget all about. But the movies that almost get there; that almost stick the landing, only to falter and twist an ankle…those are the films that stick in your craw. “What could have been!” you think, as you exit the theater, shaking your head, trying to piece together where it all went so terribly, cataclysmically wrong.

That’s the type of film Escape Room is. For almost its entire runtime, this fast, exhilarating thriller from director Adam Robitel wins you over, and has you pleasantly surprised. And then…yikes. The walls come crumbling down.

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Black Mirror: Bandersnatch isn’t the first movie to test the concept of a Choose Your Own Adventure-style narrative with diverging pathways on-screen. In late 2017 and early 2018, Steven Soderbergh did it with his murder mystery app and HBO movie, Mosaic. With its availability on the worldwide streaming service of Netflix, however, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch has taken the concept to a new level, giving a global viewing platform to a new kind of interactive cinematic storytelling.

In the movie, the viewer becomes a backseat driver for the main character, but while it might feel like you’re steering the story for a while, it soon becomes clear that Bandersnatch — to quote Lost — “has a way of course-correcting itself.” As it presents viewers with decisions, it doesn’t quite go all-in on the idea of a branching narrative with different conclusions. Instead, it wants to mix and match endings, showing you multiple outcomes without committing to any single one.

The movie prefers you to make certain choices over others, so much so that it will return you to those choices and give you a second chance to choose the right one, as it were. In a way, this goes along with the idea of a video game, with Pac-Man not giving up on reaching the final level even though he’s died. It also goes along with the age-old theme of free will versus determinism, which is something that Bandersnatch has on its mind. Let’s take a spoiler-filled look at the movie’s tangled decision web and examine how viewer missteps and system course-corrections enforce the notion of choice as an illusion.

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stan and ollie review

Eventually, time comes to claim everyone – even world-famous comedians. Mercifully never dipping into maudlin sad clown territory, Jon S. Baird’s melancholy Stan and Ollie tracks the waning days of the great stage and screen comic duo Laurel and Hardy. Avoiding tedious biopic tropes that focus on how well-known people rose to fame, Stan and Ollie is instead more interested in endings. It’s a film about saying goodbye.

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Holmes and Watson review

The warning signs come early in Holmes & Watson that this will be a painful experience. The cinematic reunion of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, a decade removed from Step Brothers, should be triumphant and hilarious, as opposed to a desperate, sweaty mess. But there are implications that the final product has been through the editing room multiple times, leaving a movie with no comedic rhythms or consistent tone. Read More »

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Runaways season 2 spoiler review

Out of all of Marvel’s properties, Runaways had arguably the hardest page-to-screen adaptation. There’s a lot of wacky shit going on in the comics, and all of that wouldn’t transition to screen well – especially in a live-action version. But for Season 2 of the Marvel drama, the series retools and grounds many of these elements, and the result is some of the company’s best television work. Read More »