Friday, March 25, 2016

In Theaters Now - 3/25/16


(new releases in green)
  • The Revenant      Grade: A+
  • Brooklyn      Grade: A
  • Spotlight      Grade: A
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens  Grade: A
  • Where to Invade Next      Grade: A
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane      Grade: A-
  • The Bronze      Grade: A-
  • The Witch      Grade: B+
  • Deadpool      Grade: B+
  • Eye in the Sky     Grade: B+
  • The Boy      Grade: B-
  • Risen      Grade: B-
  • London Has Fallen      Grade: B-
  • Lady in the Van      Grade: C+
  • Krisha     Grade: C-
  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot      Grade: C-
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice  Grade: D
  • Creative Control       Grade: D-

Additional Films Not Reviewed:

  • The Brothers Grimsby
  • City of Gold
  • The Divergent Series: Allegiant
  • Gods of Egypt
  • Hello, My Name is Doris
  • Knight of Cups
  • Kung Fu Panda 3
  • Miracles From Heaven
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
  • The Perfect Match
  • Race
  • The Young Messiah
  • Zootopia


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice


Chances are you've probably already heard some early buzz for this highly anticipated early entry in the hopeful-to-be DC Cinematic Universe.  And chances are they've been overwhelmingly negative.  In an effort to be positive, I will start my review with a positive comment: I was quite pleased not to have to sit through yet another Batman origin story for half the film.  Happily, they briefly cover his origin in the first few minutes and let us move on.  Yay.  Ok, now I'm done with everything positive I can think to say about this giant disappointment.  There really weren't many redeeming qualities to speak of.  Unlike Marvel films, it's completely humorless.  The gravitas is so thick you could cut it with a knife.  And that would be fine, if we felt connected to it.  But really, none of it is earned, neither through the acting nor the story.  Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a big giant, dreary mess that often doesn't even make much sense.  I kinda sorta get why the public has turned on Superman.  I follow (but don't believe) why Superman needs to go after Batman.  I have no idea why Batman tries to kill Superman.  And considering how long this film is (at two and a half hours) the title is grossly misleading, as the battle between Superman and Batman probably lasts about four minutes.  And it's not even intended to be the climax.  I found myself recalling and strangely even waxing nostalgic about Green Lantern.  If this is supposed to be an appetizer to whet our appetites for the upcoming Justice League films, it didn't.  In fact, it pretty much killed any tepid interest created by the largely disappointing Man of Steel.  At this point I would consider bagging the Justice League films altogether and all hopes for a successful DC Cinematic Universe.  It's just not working out as it has with Marvel.  That probably won't happen.  But at a minimum, I would take the reins away from Zack Snyder.  As the man in charge he's simply not doing this league any justice. 

Grade: D

Who is this movie for?  It's too long, too muddled, and lacks a single actor who delivers a single deserving performance.  Comic book movie fans are going to see it regardless.  (I know I would.)  But you really should use your 2.5 hours to do something better.  Maybe just go outside.

Friday, March 18, 2016

In Theaters Now - 3/18/16



(new releases in green)
  • Room      Grade: A+
  • The Revenant      Grade: A+
  • Brooklyn      Grade: A
  • Spotlight      Grade: A
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens  Grade: A
  • Where to Invade Next      Grade: A
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane      Grade: A-
  • The Bronze      Grade: A-
  • Triple 9      Grade: A-
  • Anomalisa      Grade: B+
  • Eddie the Eagle       Grade: B+
  • The Witch      Grade: B+
  • Deadpool      Grade: B+
  • The Wave      Grade: B+
  • The Boy      Grade: B-
  • Risen      Grade: B-
  • London Has Fallen      Grade: B-
  • Lady in the Van      Grade: C+
  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot      Grade: C-
  • Creative Control       Grade: D-

Additional Films Not Reviewed:

  • The Brothers Grimsby
  • The Divergent Series: Allegiant
  • Gods of Egypt
  • Hello, My Name is Doris
  • Knight of Cups
  • Kung Fu Panda 3
  • Miracles From Heaven
  • The Other Side of the Door
  • The Perfect Match
  • Race
  • The Young Messiah
  • Zootopia

Friday, March 11, 2016

In Theaters Now - 3/11/16



(new releases in green)
  • Room      Grade: A+
  • The Revenant      Grade: A+
  • Brooklyn      Grade: A
  • Spotlight      Grade: A
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens   Grade: A
  • Where to Invade Next      Grade: A
  • How to Be Single      Grade: A-
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane     Grade: A-
  • Triple 9      Grade: A-
  • Anomalisa      Grade: B+
  • Eddie the Eagle      Grade: B+
  • The Witch      Grade: B+
  • Deadpool      Grade: B+
  • The Wave      Grade: B+
  • The Boy      Grade: B-
  • Risen      Grade: B-
  • London Has Fallen     Grade: B-
  • Carol      Grade: C+
  • Lady in the Van     Grade: C+
  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot      Grade: C-
  • Ride Along 2      Grade: D

Additional Films Not Reviewed:

  • The Brothers Grimsby
  • Gods of Egypt
  • Knight of Cups
  • Kung Fu Panda 3
  • The Other Side of the Door
  • The Perfect Match
  • Race
  • The Young Messiah
  • Zootopia

10 Cloverfield Lane


Some of you may recall Cloverfield, the shaky-cam, found footage, monster movie produced by J.J. Abrams back in 2008.  I definitely do.  I remember thoroughly enjoying that wild ride when I saw it in the theater.  Best of all, the marketing of it was super secretive, preserving the thrill of the unknown so we could experience it on our own.  Well since then, it has acquired a cult following of fans awaiting a sequel.  Or a prequel.  Or another story told in tandem.  But for eight years, we had nothing but murmurs of the possibility.  Then, out of nowhere, a few months ago a film titled 10 Cloverfield Lane was announced!  Is this what we've all been waiting for, we wondered?  It's gotta be!  But how, or if, it will relate to the first one has been a closely guarded secret.  And I love that.  Abrams is one of the few big names that understands that not telling us everything (or anything) in the marketing won't keep us away.  If you make a good film, they will come.  And sure enough, they made a good film.  A very good film.  I won't spoil how, or if, this relates to Cloverfield.  But, first and foremost, it is a tense thriller with a great cast that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout.  John Goodman is absolutely terrific, as always.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead is ever-watchable.  And John Gallagher Jr. is good enough.  My only critique is it would've been an even better experience had it not been titled 10 Cloverfield Lane.  Whether it is linked to Cloverfield or not, it would've been more effective without that thought in our heads.

Grade: A-

Who is this movie for?  Do you like tense and suspenseful thrillers?  Then definitely go see this one.  Let's send Hollywood a message that we actually like surprises, and we don't need marketing to spoil everything about a movie just to get our butts in their seats.

Friday, March 4, 2016

In Theaters Now - 3/4/16



(new releases in green)
  • Room      Grade: A+
  • The Revenant      Grade: A+
  • Brooklyn      Grade: A
  • Spotlight      Grade: A
  • The Big Short      Grade: A
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens    Grade: A
  • Where to Invade Next       Grade: A
  • Creed       Grade: A
  • How to Be Single       Grade: A-
  • Triple 9       Grade: A-
  • Anomalisa       Grade: B+
  • Daddy's Home       Grade: B+
  • Eddie the Eagle       Grade: B+
  • The Witch       Grade: B+
  • Hail, Caesar!       Grade: B+
  • Deadpool       Grade: B+
  • The Wave      Grade: B+
  • 45 Years       Grade: B
  • The Boy       Grade: B-
  • Risen       Grade: B-
  • London Has Fallen      Grade: B-
  • Carol       Grade: C+
  • Zoolander 2       Grade: C+
  • Lady in the Van       Grade: C+
  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot      Grade: C-
  • Ride Along 2       Grade: D

Additional Films Not Reviewed:

  • Gods of Egypt
  • Kung Fu Panda 3
  • The Other Side of the Door
  • Race
  • Zootopia

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot


Like most people, I really like Tina Fey.  It's hard not to.  She's a very likeable personality.  But, for whatever reason, her likeability just hasn't translated to a good filmography.  Baby Mama, Date Night, and Sisters all sounded better on paper than they actually were.  They were all passable, yet unremarkable comedies.  It sure seemed clear that Tina Fey needed to mix things up and try something different.  I had high hopes this intriguing sounding film about a journalist in Afghanistan would be a game changer for her.  Unfortunately Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is pretty much just a mess.  It's some strange hybrid of a fish-out-of-water tale, a comedy, a drama, and a romance, but with none of these genres working effectively.  It's not very funny, not very dramatic, and not very romantic.  It's really just kinda boring and gave me horrid flashbacks to that Bill Murray disaster from last year, Rock the Kasbah.  And, sadly, not even the collective talents of Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Billy Bob Thornton, and Margot Robbie could save it.

Grade: C-

Who is this movie for?  Even the biggest of Tina Fey fans are destined to be disappointed, waxing nostalgic for her mediocre comedies.

London Has Fallen


Even though it's only been three years, I can't say I remember a lot about Olympus Has Fallen.  But I recall it being a passably entertaining guilty pleasure in the vein of a Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford, Steven Seagal, or Wesley Snipes action film (e.g. Die Hard, Air Force One, Under Siege, and Passenger 57, respectively.)  And having recalled that, I was pretty indifferent towards seeing this sequel.  I figured it would be 99 minutes of passable entertainment that I could see or skip.  Though since it was screening close to me, I decided to give it a go.  First and foremost, I was surprised at how much darker, grittier, and more serious it seems than I remembered of its predecessor, closer to Homeland than any of the aforementioned guilty pleasures.  Perhaps I'm just misremembering, but it seems like they've tried to take this one into more mature territory.  But in doing so, they stripped away a lot of the fun.  For me, it was significantly harder to get into the film, and in many ways less enjoyable, but at the same time more respectable.  As such, I've got mixed feelings about it and give it the exact same grade as the original, but for very different reasons.

Grade: B-

Who is this movie for?  It's a strange cross between a misstep and an improvement to the original, which may simultaneously please and disappoint its fan base.  But frankly, I think there are many better options in theaters now.