The halls of the Markos Dance Academy are barren; blanched of color and body, wide deco door frames and high ceilings gape like hungry mouths. The sizes seems preposterous for how few people dwell there: a handful of young women in the company and their teachers. But though the women are small in number, there exists in their building an unflinching, insurmountable terror. A thicket of wicked in its bowels. Numbers don’t matter when evil is thirsting in the shadows.
Luca Guadagnino’s palatial Suspiria — a remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 original — is in a league of its own, arguably the most interesting horror remake of all time, and definitely the best. Assembled into six chapters and an epilogue, it’s a nearly 3-hour behemoth, which will annoy some and liberate others, while forging a cinematic identity unto itself. You’ve never seen anything quite like this. You might be grateful for that.
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The second season of Iron Fist has most of its characters struggling to figure out who they are and what their purpose in life should be. I, after watching all ten episodes of the season, went through a similar process. It was a journey, but at the end – like some of the show’s characters – I have realized who I truly am: I am a person who wants to watch more Iron Fist.
It’s shocking, I know. I still don’t really believe it myself. It took time to get there — to the end of the eighth episode, “Citadel on the Edge of Violence,” in fact.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Below is an overview of what makes this season better than the last (The Good), what isn’t so great (The Bad) and what makes me excited to see what’s next in store for these characters (The Crazy).
Warning: spoilers abound.
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(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Crazy Rich Asians.)
“China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world.” That is the rather grandiose Napoleon Bonaparte proverb that Crazy Rich Asians opens with, setting the stage for a wild, escapist fantasy of a film that is both keenly aware and uncaring of the burden it carries. Crazy Rich Asians knows it presents a landmark moment for Asian-Americans in film, and right off the bat, it declares its intentions. It’s a weighty promise for Jon M. Chu’s romantic-comedy to live up to — but does it live up to it? Yes, and no.
On a barebones level, Crazy Rich Asians doesn’t quite shake the world. It’s a romantic-comedy that follows a standard meet-the-parents set-up, with an outrageously wealthy twist. But add in the all-Asian cast and Asian-American heroine, and you’ve got something revolutionary.
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(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Mission: Impossible – Fallout.)
“The end you’ve always feared is coming,” the villainous Solomon Lane tells Ethan Hunt halfway through Mission: Impossible – Fallout. “The fallout of all your good intentions.” If the Mission: Impossible franchise has one specific problem, it’s this: it took a very long time to tell us who Ethan Hunt was. From the beginning, Hunt, as played by Tom Cruise, was a bit of a cipher.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation changed that. The previous entry in the Mission franchise took a step back and finally asked, “Who is Ethan Hunt?” The answer: he’s kind of a crazy jerk. Someone who will risk everyone’s life just to come out ahead. This was a fascinating development in Ethan’s character trajectory, but perhaps director Christopher McQuarrie – who is the first Mission franchise filmmaker to return for a second time – realized it was a bit too much. That the series couldn’t realistically continue if Ethan Hunt remained a borderline sociopath.
Which brings us to Fallout, the most breathless, exciting, action-packed installment in the series yet. I don’t know if I’m quite ready to call it the best entry in the series – Rogue Nation still holds that distinction, as of now – but I am ready to declare Fallout to be the most thrilling Mission. A film so relentlessly entertaining that it might actually exhaust you. Believe the hype: this really is the best action movie since Mad Max: Fury Road.
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(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Sicario: Day of the Soldado.)
Did you remember to send a card to your parents for The Day of the Soldado? Did you take advantage of Amazon’s Day of the Soldado Cyber Monday Sale? I sure hope so, because Sicario: The Day of the Soldado has come and gone. And now we have to talk about it. For reasons beyond mortal comprehension, someone, somewhere, said, “What if we made a sequel to 2015’s Sicario, but got rid of all the good stuff?”
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(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.)
Welcome to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The fifth entry in the Jurassic Park franchise, and the follow-up to 2015’s Jurassic World, doubles-down on all the elements that made the previous film unpleasant, while adding a few twists and turns. Director J.A. Bayona does his absolute best to breathe life into this weak, rushed story. But a few stellar visuals aren’t enough to rescue this film from itself.
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The Incredibles arrived on the scene in 2004 when superheroes were taking off at the box office, but hadn’t ventured into the behemoth of success that would come with the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe just four years later. Now that 14 years have passed since the original, the superhero game is well-tread and seasoned territory. But leave it to the geniuses at Pixar Animation to craft a superhero sequel that is positively superb simply because it isn’t your average superhero movie.
What made The Incredibles stand out in the first place was the fact that it was about family first. It just so happens the Parr family were special because every one of them had super powers (except Jack-Jack at the time). Unfortunately, Bob (aka Mr. Incredible) and Helen (aka Elastigirl) decided to start a family after superheroes were declared illegal, forcing their kids Dash and Violet to hide their super powers. Unlike the rest of the world around them, this family can’t do the things that make them special.
Incredibles 2 partially deals with this same issue as the family faces the prospect of their heroic actions still being deemed not only illegal, but also unwanted by the general public, thanks to the perception presented by politicians ensuring that people only see the destruction they’ve caused and not the good they’ve done. However, all that is an excuse to put pressure on The Incredibles as a family, to change up the dynamic so that each of the characters can grow in their own way. And it’s accompanied by some amazingly well-crafted and thrilling action adventure. Read More »
(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Ari Aster’s Hereditary.)
In its opening days, Hereditary has sailed past tracking expectations and earned A24 its biggest weekend release yet. Ari Aster’s indie horror film has been generating conversation since its January Sundance screening, and now that it’s on nearly three thousand screens, that conversation has gotten a lot louder.
And there’s plenty to talk about when it comes to Hereditary: the soul-chilling performances, the elegant and unusual art design, that balls-out (uhm, literally) ending no one saw coming. But under the polished, cinematic horror of Hereditary is a rougher, truer horror, one that will stay with audiences long past that shocking conclusion.
The real horror of Hereditary is in its relentless, unblinking look at family dysfunction.
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(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Ron Howard‘s exciting but hollow prequel Solo: A Star Wars Story.)
Han Solo is one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe, and Lucasfilm decided to tell us how he became the smuggler that we all know and love. The only problem is the last time we saw this kind of story, it involved a whiny kid blossoming into an emo adult who turned to the dark side and left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of Star Wars fans. Do we really need to know where Han Solo came from?
After seeing Solo: A Star Wars Story, the answer is honestly no, but that’s no reason to disregard the movie entirely. Solo offers up some of the most exciting action sequences in the history of the Star Wars saga. It also features outstanding performances from each and every cast member. And it sets the stage for a new story arc that will fill in the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Unfortunately, it does all this while not giving us much of a reason to care about the title character of the movie, other than knowing who he becomes. It feels like the movie merely exists to set up more movies while reminding us of what we loved about the original trilogy. And that comes with an excessive amount of winks and nods to the original trilogy.
Let’s dive into the finer details with our Solo: A Star Wars Story spoiler review. Read More »
(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: David Leitch’s surprisingly funny Deadpool 2.)
“This is a family film,” Deadpool tells us early on in Deadpool 2. It is, of course, a joke – a movie loaded with vulgar jokes and ultra-violence can’t really be a “family film.” And yet, there’s an air of truth to this. Because a family indicates growth, and growth is exactly what Deadpool 2 showcases. For all its flaws – like the first film, it’s never quite as funny or subversive as it thinks it is – Deadpool 2 takes the meta world created by the original Deadpool, and builds upon it. It finds new ways to tell an old joke, and for that, it’s (mostly) a success.
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