in the heights review

When In The Heights opened on Broadway in 2008, it was a scrappy little show that could, the product of a college sophomore’s wild ambitions and talent that had been honed and tweaked for years before finally hitting the Great White Way. But more than two decades after Lin-Manuel Miranda initially conceived of In the Heights during his second year at Wesleyan, Miranda’s profile has far exceeded anything that he created pre-Hamilton. So returning to Miranda’s first stage musical made back when he was young, scrappy, and hungry (I’m sorry, that will be the first and last one) with a glossy big-budget adaptation from the director who made Crazy Rich Asians is…a little weird, to say the least.

This is a musical that is bursting with energy, and vigor, and the raw imperfections of youth. It’s a little rough around the edges, but that’s part of its appeal. The feature film adaptation of In the Heights tries to recapture these rough edges, but it does it with a bit of the glitz and glamour that comes with every Hollywood musical. The end result is a movie musical that feels both a little too imperfect and too perfect, but everything is just so joyous and full of spectacle that you don’t notice much.

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F9 Revies and Reactions

Even though it’s still over a month away from hitting theaters, the first critical reactions and reviews to the next installment of the Fast and Furious franchise have already sped onto the web. In case the most recently released trailer for F9 wasn’t enough of an indicator, this sequel gets bigger and more ridiculous than any of the previous installments, and it sounds like it will give fans exactly what they’ve come to expect from the completely over-the-top action franchise.  Read More »

a quiet place part ii review

The first A Quiet Place was a phenomenon for a reason — its immaculate sound design and unique premise (a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by hearing-sensitive monsters) made for a horror film more akin to a roller coaster: immersive, transporting, and almost completely experiential. But strip A Quiet Place of its novelty, and what do you have? That’s the question that A Quiet Place Part II wrestles with.

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Cruella Reviews

Cruella doesn’t seem to be high on anyone’s must-see list as we kick off a quiet blockbuster summer. But if the early buzz is any indicator, we’re sleeping on what could end up being one of the best live-action Disney movies inspired by one of their animated classics. The movie stars Emma Stone as the young version of 101 Dalmatians villain Cruella de Vil, when she was an up and coming fashionista with an axe to grind, and apparently it’s wickedly fun, packed with style, and supremely entertaining.

Get the early buzz from the first Cruella reviews on social media below. Read More »

The Djinn Review

Writer/director duo David Charbonier and Justin Powell know how to get straight to the point without extracting any key elements that comprise an entertaining horror film. Their debut film The Boy Behind the Door was a terrifying and realistic depiction of friendship withstanding a traumatic childhood abduction. This year, the talented pair push the envelope with their sophomore film, The Djinn, by exploring guilt and familial love through a supernatural framework.

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the woman in the window review

It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a new movie that could qualify for the “so bad it’s good” designation, but The Woman in the Window comes pretty darn close. Already infamous for being long-delayed (it was supposed to open in theaters in 2019) and for its extensive reshoots, the Joe Wright-directed adaptation of the bestselling novel arrives on Netflix and robs a bunch of talented people of their dignity in the process. Here is proof that you can hire a skilled director, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, and a killer cast and still end up with junk. But is it at least entertaining junk? No, not really. You might get a cheap thrill from the absurdity of it all, though.

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those who wish me dead review

There’s something refreshing about the simplicity of Those Who Wish Me Dead. This is not a franchise-starting vehicle. It’s not a remake, nor is it based on a comic book, or an old TV show (it is adapted from a novel, though). It’s just a simple damn story that goes from point A to point B. That doesn’t mean it’s very good, mind you. But in this age when everything feels prepackaged and focus-grouped out the wazoo, something as plain as this is like a breath of fresh air. The heroes are good, the villains are bad, and the script is lean. Almost too lean.

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spiral from the book of saw review

Serial killer Jigsaw is long dead but his lust for Rube Goldberg-like torture devices lives on in Spiral: From the Book of Saw, the ninth installment in the seemingly never-ending Saw series. But in many respects, Spiral feels like a sequel in name only. Hell, take that Book of Saw subtitle away and you have less of a Saw movie and more of a serial killer thriller that seems to be cribbing, badly, from Seven and its many knock-offs. Spiral has the unique distinction of featuring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson, two of the biggest stars to ever grace this film series. But those hoping their star power will lend Spiral weight are in for a rude awakening.

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army of the dead review

Las Vegas is a war zone in Army of the Dead, Zack Snyder‘s gore-tastic shoot ’em up about a team of good-looking mercenaries trying to steal $200 million from a casino safe. That would be hard enough on its own, but to complicate matters, a zombie outbreak has turned Vegas into a place of non-stop death and carnage. And just to further complicate matters, the government has decided to drop a nuclear bomb on the Gambling Capital of the World. So our heroes have to dodge the living dead, break into a safe, and get the hell out of town before they get nuked. Sounds like a piece of cake, right?

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cliff walkers review

Zhang Yimou‘s name instantly calls to mind the bright, opulent colors of the renowned Chinese filmmaker’s wuxia films and historical epics — Hero and House of Flying Daggers are two of the most sumptuous films to grace our screens. So it’s no wonder that Cliff Walkers (formerly titled Impasse), Zhang’s first foray into the spy thriller, is a handsome and stylish thriller whose wintry setting establishes a chilly mood befitting the genre.

But it’s with a cold hand that Zhang approaches Cliff Walkers. It’s more of a chance for the visual master to flex his muscles in staging taut suspense sequences that flirt with the balletic action he’s known for (this time with more Bourne-style shaky cam!) and less of anything else. But it’s hard to complain too much about the stilted, somewhat confusing, story when Cliff Walkers looks this good.

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