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    The Magnificent Seven (2016)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on September 23rd, 2016

    Great, just what we need, another remake of a film that is not only a classic, but the film which it was inspired by is also a highly-praised classic.  I’ll admit I’ve grown tired of Hollywood going to the well and remaking films that simply don’t need to be messed with.  It’s one thing to see Seven Samurai (1954) translated for American audiences to go from a black & white martial arts spectacle to seeing a colorized star-studded western, The Magnificent Seven (1960).  When I first heard about the remake, I had hopes that the film would be modernized yet again, but unfortunately the studios decided to keep the setting in the Wild West, and even when Denzel Washington was hired on to head the film with Antoine Fuqua (Training Day & The Equalizer) in the director’s chair, I still wasn’t convinced.
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    Snowden

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on September 16th, 2016

    It’s been just about four years since Savages (2012) hit the big screen.  For me Savages was Oliver Stone simply having a blast, shooting an over-the-top action film fueled by sex, drugs, and violence.  Now it seems Stone has stepped back into the paranoid, government conspiracy form that he seems to be best known for with Snowden.  Whether you view him as a traitor to the United States or a self-sacrificing lamb to expose the government and its illegal wiretapping, it’s a choice that is up to you going into this film.  Personally, while I feel his intentions were good, still he did betray his government and committed treason.  What I had hoped with this film is that Oliver Stone would capture both sides of the coin, but as the title would suggest, Edward Snowden (Joesph Gordon-Levitt) is front and center on this ride, and that’s not my only problem here.
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    Sully

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on September 11th, 2016

    Clint Eastwood is 86 years old. He is also one of the best film directors working today. His latest film shows no signs of a man winding down his life, let alone his career. I obviously hinted that most other actors (or directors) his age have long ago died or checked into a nursing home. Eastwood looks lean and mean and still directs that way. Eastwood is interesting, as well, because he tends to pick projects that are outside the Hollywood studio corporate thinking. In other words, Eastwood is his own man and does pretty much anything he wants. His films as an actor and director have courted controversy way back to the days of Dirty Harry and A Fistful of Dollars.
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    Ben-Hur

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on August 20th, 2016

    In 1959 when Ben-Hur came out, it was a massive undertaking that nearly closed the gates for MGM after nearly bankrupting the studio.  It was a huge risk in producing such a large scale epic that fortunately paid off and became one of the studio’s cornerstone successes.  The story of Judah Ben-Hur and his fall from being a prince, to becoming a slave, to eventually becoming a hero to the people in the arena is such a familiar story it’s hard to not feel you’ve seen this before without even entering the theater.  In some parts I look at Gladiator and see somewhat the same film, only being set in a separate time and place.  But really the story of betrayal at the highest levels, and seeing great figures fall only to pull themselves up again is a theme Hollywood seems to relish, and it seems to attract many viewers in the process.
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    Hell or High Water

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on August 20th, 2016

    Taylor Sheridan is an actor. Let’s change that. Taylor Sheridan was an actor, and now he’s a writer. He’s a terrific writer. He’s the kind of writer that actors are going to be seeking out and critics are going to love. But he’s also made hard-boiled genre action pieces. He’s coming out of nowhere and getting everything right. He was a series regular on Sons of Anarchy and Veronica Mars, but he’s going to be in much greater demand as a screenwriter. His first film, Sicario, was one of the top ten films of last year, due in large part to his brilliant script (and also to everyone else involved with the movie, like director Dennis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins).
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    Suicide Squad

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on August 8th, 2016

    In the days leading up to the release of Suicide Squad, over the internet there has been one of the most vicious attacks on a film before its release that I can remember.  Sure, we had all the negative talk about Ghostbusters,but that was before anyone had ever seen the film, and as screenings came along, opinions seemed to sway.  Now I was lucky enough to attend a screening Monday for Suicide Squad, and there were up to 150 people turned away at the door because the auditorium was filled to capacity. I mean, the buzz for this was high, and we DC fans were giddy, because this film was our hope that WB would be turning things around.  I mention all this because now this has managed to become one of the worst-reviewed films of the year, and I’m just sitting here like WTF happened, did they see some other cut of the film?
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    Jason Bourne

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 29th, 2016

    Moviegoers tend to have better memories than amnesiac assassins, but I think it’s fair to say we’ve mostly put The Bourne Legacy out of our minds. Universal’s underwhelming, half-hearted attempt to spin off one of its more lucrative franchises all but guaranteed the eventual return of original star Matt Damon and two-time director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum). The duo has re-teamed for the entertaining yet inessential Jason Bourne, which — for better and worse — will feel extremely familiar for fans of the trilogy.
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    Lights Out

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 24th, 2016

    Everyone is afraid of the dark…and that’s what she feeds on.”

    Despite rumors to the contrary, I am a full-grown adult. That means I can’t in good conscience admit to being afraid of the dark. The most I’ll concede is a sense of uneasiness if I’m in a dark space because I might bump into something. And if I hear a strange noise in the middle of the night, my mind might start creating sinister shapes out of shadows. (Hold on…am I afraid of the dark?!) Either way, that primal and unshakable fear of what could be hiding just out of sight is what powers Lights Out, one of the leaner, nimbler, and flat-out most enjoyable low-budget horror flicks in recent years.
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    Star Trek: Beyond

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 23rd, 2016

    “Space… The final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before.”

    Every Star Trek fan knows the words by heart. For 50 years they’ve heralded the promise of something special. From the television show that couldn’t but did anyway to 12 feature films. Would #13 be the lucky one? The trailers left many of us worried that it would more than likely be unlucky. And we needed so much for this one to be great. Since the last film we lost Leonard Nimoy, who was most certainly the heart of the franchise on the screen.
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    Captain Fantastic

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on July 23rd, 2016

    Captain Fantastic has nothing to do with Elton John. (It turns out that’s not entirely true, because director/writer/actor Matt Ross (Big Love, Silicon Valley) found out his mother played Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy all the time, and it must have imbedded itself in his subconscious). The story in the movie starts in a very Lord of the Flies way, with camouflaged faces hidden amongst the leaves of the woods. They are children, and one of them leaps from the bush with a knife and cuts a deer’s neck. There are seven children and they all belong to Ben (Viggo Mortensen, Lord of the Rings).
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    Café Society

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on July 23rd, 2016

    Café Society looks absolutely gorgeous. Every camera setup finds a new authentic location that suggests a time and place long ago. The lighting and cinematography by Vittorio Storaro (Last Tango in Paris, Reds, Apocalypse Now) are sumptuous and delicious. The story is novelistic like an F. Scott Fitzgerald magnum opus. Woody Allen has had a long and very productive career. He is definitely at a stage when he should have slowed down, but he doesn’t. Café Society is not Woody’s magnum opus, but it certainly feels like he is reaching for it. It has depth and complexity. It is funny at times but is generally filled with ache and regret.
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    The Infiltrator

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on July 15th, 2016

    Growing up one of coolest jobs I thought was out there was undercover work. Not to diminish all the threats to one’s well-being associated with that profession, but come on, who didn’t want the opportunity to reinvent themselves as someone else entirely. Undercover affords that opportunity. That said, it does not come without a cost, and that cost is explored thoroughly in The Infiltrator, a based on a true story tale about a U.S. Customs agent who infiltrates the most successful and equally dangerous drug cartel led by the one and only Pablo Escobar. An interesting little tidbit that I was unaware of before the opening credits was that this film was shot right here in the Tampa area, which provided recognizable environment and a chance to pick out familiar territory.  
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    Free State Of Jones

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on July 11th, 2016

    I am somewhat angry right now. I am increasingly stunned at what is being praised in this culture. We are trapped in an era that is supposed to be enlightened but is ladled on top with layers of rotting organic material (which is a euphemism for a rather rude word). There seem to be no interest in certain things that are very important and increasingly relevant to us. There are subtleties and complexities about ourselves that we don’t understand and that is why the world is still enmeshed in violence and madness. I am talking about people who should know better. People who pontificate and tell us what we are supposed to think. Critics. Pundits.
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    The Secret Life of Pets

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 9th, 2016

    “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.” 

    The first thing you need to know about The Secret Lives Of Pets is that it’s not terribly original. Fans of the Pixar Toy Story Franchise will find pretty much every element of this script has been lifted from one of the three Toy Story films. Of course, if you’re going to lift an idea, you might as well steal from the best. Of course, there are always formulaic ideas in films, particularly animated films geared mostly toward children. And while I really did enjoy almost everything about this film, I just can’t escape the fact that I’ve seen it all before.
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    Swiss Army Man

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on July 6th, 2016

    If a film is highly original, that is usually a good thing. If it completely defies logic, that might be good or bad, depending. If it defies common sense and intelligence, that would be a bad thing. Swiss Army Man does all of those things. It is tantalizing with possibilities that are explored, but frustrating in execution. It is rude and unpleasant, and not in a good way. Some people will respond to its ridiculous rudeness in a positive way, like the way that most children laugh when someone farts. That is not the real problem with this movie.
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    The Legend Of Tarzan

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 2nd, 2016

    I’ve always been a fan of Tarzan; I loved the old series and the films basically because I just dug how he was this fearless character who lived in the jungles that fought the bad guys and a few wild animals as well.  As I got older that was when I discovered the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and I just had a blast with all these pulp tales about the civilized Wildman and the beautiful Jane.  I even remember how excited I was about seeing Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan as a kid; even though this screen adaption bored me to tears, it was still exciting to see the character up on the screen. Now it’s 2016, and the character is swinging into action on the big screen again, and with a large budget to back it up.
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    The Shallows

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on June 26th, 2016

    You’d have to go all the way back to 1975 when Jaws was released that a film has come out that has given us a reason to be afraid to go into the water. There have been several attempts to capture the magic that we saw in Stephen Spielberg’s classic film about a large great white shark that preyed upon the swimmers in the town of Amity.  Now that summer is upon us and the heat has us flocking to our A/C units or to the beaches, it couldn’t be a better time to unleash another killer shark film upon the masses.  I have to admit when the trailers came out for this, all I expected from it was to be a campy film that just happened to be well shot.  Instead director Jaume Collet-Serra (Run All Night & Orphan) delivers an enjoyable thriller.
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    The Neon Demon

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on June 23rd, 2016

    “Are you food, or are you sex?”

    When it comes to director Nicolas Winding Refn, he’s a director I’m never all too sure what to expect from.  For me, Drive is one of my favorite films in the past ten years, while Only God Forgives simply bored me; despite the stunning imagery, it had nothing else going for it. His films going even further back are just as much of a mixed bag, so coming into The Neon Demon I knew better than to get my hopes up, and that I should just go ahead and let the film stand on its own, as it should.
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    Central Intelligence

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on June 18th, 2016

    “Be the hero of your own story.”

    Not the funniest addition to Kevin Hart’s reign as the king of comedy, but still a welcome sight. This time around, Hart teams with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for Central Intelligence. I’ve been anticipating this movie since behind-the-scenes footage leaked earlier this year, and the official trailer did nothing but fuel the flames of my excitement. After watching it, I can say that despite a few predictable plot twists, I still found the overall product to be extremely funny and worthwhile. 
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    Finding Dory

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 17th, 2016

    What if I forget you?”

    Ever since Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear rocketed onto the big screen in 1995’s Toy Story, Pixar has assembled a wonderful stable of unforgettable characters. Ironically, one of the animation studio’s most memorable creations is a blue tang fish who probably wouldn’t remember you. Besides being a dazzling and heartwarming family classic, Finding Nemo was also one of Pixar’s biggest hits. (Technically, it’s actually the biggest.) So while it’s a little surprising that it took 13(!) years for a sequel to swim into our lives, the fast and funny Finding Dory proves to be a completely worthy follow up.
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    Warcraft

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on June 11th, 2016

    When it comes to titles from Blizzard Entertainment, I was always more into the Starcraft and Diablo franchises. I played World of Warcraft (WoW) for a small period of time when it became a popular MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), but my interest in the game quickly died. The aesthetics were a little too cartoony for my liking, plus, you paid for a subscription. Regardless, I am just one fan of Blizzard: WoW caught on like wildfire. I still know people who are playing the game to this day. The question, however, is whether or not this franchise would make a great cinematic adaptation. I will admit that I am not an expert on the Warcraft lore, by any means, but I know enough about popular culture and its many fandoms to look at this film objectively.
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    The Conjuring 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on June 10th, 2016

    Since The Conjuring was released back in 2013, I can’t help but love what James Wan brought to the film; it’s that perfect film to put on during a stormy night.  Whether you are a believer in the paranormal or not, the life story of Ed and Lorraine Warren is interesting I’d imagine for skeptics, and for us believers, well, their day-to-day life seems downright terrifying.  Hearing how The Conjuring was going to be James Wan’s last horror film (after all he went on to do Furious 7) this seemed criminal to me, because he seemed like the one working director who had seemed to master the craft of creating a horror film.  Now Wan has come back to tell the next terrifying tale from the Warren’s case files with The Conjuring 2, and in the process has I believe has left his mark on the horror genre with perhaps the best haunted house film to date.
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    A Bigger Splash

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on June 6th, 2016

    A Bigger Splash is a remake of a 1969 French film called La Piscine (The Swimming Pool) starring Alain Delon, Romy Schneider, and Jane Birkin. It was popular in its time and was challenging and mysterious but will not register in the memory of modern moviegoers. A Bigger Splash retains the same sense of adventurous storytelling and compelling ambivalence. A Bigger Splash stars Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series and the new “M” in James Bond movies Skyfall and Spectre), Tilda Swinton (a remarkable character actress who is different in every film), Dakota Johnson (Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Greys) and Matthias Schoenaerts (Far From The Madding Crowd, The Danish Girl). That cast is dynamic by itself, and they are used to maximum effect. Ralph Fiennes, especially, is absolutely outstanding. He has never played a part like this before. His character could be described in many ways, because his moods shift radically.
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    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on June 2nd, 2016

    Growing up I was obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series; it was the Saturday morning cartoon I just couldn’t get enough of.  When I couldn’t watch the cartoon, I’d be playing with the toys and eventually the video game back in the original Nintendo console days.  So when the movies came out, my parents had no choice but to take me to see them.  Back in those days we had the turtles in rubber suits; as a kid the experience was fun but still just not as good as the cartoon.  As I got older, well, those original films seem to hold up less and less, and when the news came that an updated version of the film would be coming out I got a little excited, that is till I saw the trailer for the 2014 film.
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    The Lobster

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on May 30th, 2016

    The Lobster could easily be in contention for one of the weirdest movies you’ll ever see. It’s certain to be the weirdest movie of this year. It isn’t weird in a pointless or flashy way. It isn’t weird just for the sake of being weird. It is low-key and tastefully filmed. It seems to fit comfortably in the tradition of absurdist or surrealistic comedy/drama. If you are familiar with the works of Kafka or Bunuel or Beckett or Pirandello or Ionesco or, more recently, Charlie Kaufman, you’ll understand the nature of absurdist cinema. Of course, Rhinoceros by Ionesco, Metamorphosis by Kafka, or Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs are examples of people who transform into animals or insects. The Lobster does not attempt to portray these transformations very literally, although we do see animals representing people throughout the movie.
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