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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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    X-Men Apocalypse

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 28th, 2016

    “Everything they’ve built will fall! And from the ashes of their world, we’ll build a better one!”

    Since Disney has taken over The Bullpen at Marvel, they have had an unprecedented run of successful comic book superhero films. During that same time DC/Warner has had trouble finding a direction for their cinematic universe. But the Marvel titles still in the hands of other studios haven’t shared in that run of good fortune. Sony finally had to relinquish control of Spider-Man, and Fox has followed disaster with disaster with The Fantastic Four. The single exception to that rule has been the Fox handling of The X-Men universe.
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    Alice Through the Looking Glass

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on May 27th, 2016

    Alice Through The Looking Glass is the sequel to Alice In Wonderland. Alice In Wonderland is a proven blockbuster of all time. It is part of the billionaire club in total box office gross. It is number 23 on the all-time biggest films list with a total box office of $1,025,500,000. It is obvious then that a sequel would have to be made. Alice in Wonderland was a Tim Burton film, his biggest in fact. Needless to say, Lewis Carroll’s creation is a time-worn classic favorite, but neither movie is very faithful to the books. The fact that this isn’t a Tim Burton film is actually a big deal. There doesn’t seem to be anyone talking about why he didn’t include Burton. Burton is always very busy, and he is one of the producers of the film. The director this time is James Bobin. Nobody important. He directed some television and two Muppet movies.
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    The Nice Guys

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on May 21st, 2016

    Writer/director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Iron Man 3) has a way of writing flawed characters who manage to leave more lasting impressions than the films they populate. But where he shines is when he can thrust these flawed individuals into the confines of a detective story. Most people grew their fondness for Black and his quick-wit dialogue when he first penned Lethal Weapon, but for me it goes back to The Monster Squad and The Last Boy Scout, where I found myself becoming a fan even in my early years of film watching. So is the fanboy in me excited to see what Black brings to the table this time around? You betcha!
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    Money Monster

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on May 15th, 2016

    Hollywood has a long-running reputation for doing films about the little man taking a stand against corporate greed.  Not only does everyone seem to like an underdog story, but when a story comes along where the everyday blue collar worker gets to go head to head against pharmaceutical companies, or Wall Street in general, it’s a no-brainer this could have commercial appeal.  Films like Mad City, John Q, and last years The Big Short are all films that seem to have an influence on Money Monster, but what would it bring to the table?  With Jodie Foster (Little Man Tate, The Beaver) at the helm and with George Clooney and Julia Roberts leading the cast, this was a film that grabbed my interest, but following the release of the trailer, I felt I already saw the entire film in a matter of three minutes. Or did the film have a few surprises hiding up its sleeve?
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    Sing Street

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on May 8th, 2016

    Should you pursue your dreams at any cost? If your life seems bleak and hopeless, should you go for broke and bet everything on what you believe? These questions are even more relevant to people who are creative artists, because they will often be told that their dreams are hopeless and unattainable. The rewards can be great, but the odds of succeeding are easily a million to one. Sing Street takes place in 1985 and is about young kids writing songs and making music videos. The parents, Robert (Aiden Gillian, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish from Game of Thrones) and Penny (Maria Doyle Kennedy, Siobhan Sadler from Orphan Black) are struggling like almost everyone in Dublin in those days.
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    Captain America: Civil War

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 6th, 2016

    “Suit Up!”

    When I was a kid we had something called a toy box. Do kids even have such things anymore? Inside we were supposed to keep our toys when we weren’t playing with them. Inside mine there were dinosaurs, cars with track, army men, spaceships … and yes, superheroes. To open the toy box meant to prepare yourself for imagination and fun. Sure, the box got crowded after a while, but I was always filled with some kind of anticipation when I looked inside. Today going to see a Marvel movie is very much like lifting the lid on a toy box.
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    Papa Hemingway In Cuba

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 30th, 2016

    “Let’s go find you a fish.”

    I’ve been told enough times that it is often not a good idea to meet your heroes. It’s too often impossible for anyone to live up to expectations, particularly when they are already up on a pedestal in our minds. All humans have their flaws, and Ernest Hemingway was no exception. I never met him. He killed himself around the time I was busy being born. I often joked to my writing professors that he feared my arrival. The truth is that he had so many demons. It isn’t a secret today, and it wasn’t then, at least not for anyone familiar with his work.
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    The Green Room

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 28th, 2016

    Ever since writer/director Jeremy Saulnier came out with his gripping revenge film Blue Ruin, fans have been patiently waiting to see what he’d do next.  If you have not had the chance to see Blue Ruin and you are a fan of the revenge genre, it’s a film that is certainly a must-see and is one of the few films that lives up to the hype that surrounds it.  The problem with doing such a strong and powerful film so early in your career is that expectations seem to just skyrocket, and it seems there is just no way you can make everyone happy.  As a fan first and critic second, I know I’ve been guilty of doing this in the past. It’s almost impossible to not get excited, and at the screening for this film I know I was not the only one with high expectations.
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    Elvis & Nixon

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

    “You must be kidding.”

    It is the most requested photograph from the White House archives. I’m talking about a photograph of Richard Nixon with The King. This particular King’s kingdom wasn’t a nation or political group. Of course, I’m talking about Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll. The meeting occurred in the days before Nixon installed his infamous recording equipment and long before that fateful break-in at Watergate. So no one really knows what was said in the meeting. Now director Liza Johnson attempts to take us behind the closed doors of the Oval Office on that fateful day in December of 1970 when the leader of the free world met with the leader of a generation
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    The Huntsman: Winter’s War

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 22nd, 2016

    There is another story. One that comes long before…happily ever after.”

    An unseen narrator — an uncredited Liam Neeson, wisely choosing not to show his face in this film — intones these words at the start of The Huntsman: Winter’s War. He’s talking about the saga involving a certain magic mirror and Ravenna (a still-captivating Charlize Theron), the wicked antagonist from 2012’s Snow White and The Huntsman. But as this flat, uninspired prequel/sequel hybrid unfolds, it becomes clear that this “other story” is essentially an unimaginative mish-mash of Disney (shades of Frozen and Brave are added to the Snow White framework) and Tolkien.
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    Everybody Wants Some

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 19th, 2016

    For the Gasparilla International Film Festival, to nab the latest film from writer/director Richard Linklater is kind of a big deal. GIFF was the second festival to show Everybody Wants Some after its debut at the acclaimed South by Southwest festival.  With the film being lauded as a spiritual sequel to Linklater’s cult hit Dazed and Confused, I had to admit I was a bit skeptical about this film and its ability to even match up to its predecessor; after all, it was the indie darling that helped launched the careers of Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, and many others.  This ensemble of talented up-and-comers managed to capture this cinematic lightning in a bottle about high school, and for me it’s a film I manage to watch at least once a year when I come across someone who hasn’t yet seen the film.
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    The Jungle Book (2016)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 16th, 2016

    “This is the law of the jungle…”

    Disney appears to have a law that all of its classic cartoon features must now be made into live-action films. As I’ve mentioned in my review of the original classic The Jungle Book, the animated feature was the end of an important era at Walt Disney Studios. It was released about a year after Walt’s death and was the last film he supervised from beginning to end. In the wake of Walt’s death the studio experienced a sharp turnover and complete retooling of the animation department. With only the nine old men to carry the traditions of Walt into the future, The Jungle Book would forever mark a distinct milestone in the history of animated feature films.
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    Midnight Special

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on April 10th, 2016

    Comic book movies are the preeminent form of movie entertainment in this day and age. I use the term broadly to include all sorts of fantasy books and ancillary offshoots. There is the Marvel Universe and the DC Universe and other universes that include Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, and endless variations. As consumers we become fans of a particular fantasy world from which we gain great personal pleasure. Religion is also a source of orientation for most of the world. We believe in various versions of God in which to invest our emotions fervently and honestly. There is a clear difference between fantasy and religion, but then we have YouTube, which is becoming increasingly crammed with “information” that crosses the line between fantasy and reality.
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    Demolition

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on April 1st, 2016

    Have you ever had a traumatic loss? Have you ever lost someone and felt numb? How did you feel about the person you lost, and was it different now that they were gone? Do you think you acted appropriately about the death? Did you care about what people thought of you, or were you in your own little world? Were you ever the same again? Demolition stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, and Chris Cooper, and is directed by Jean Marc Vallee. Vallee has directed two outstanding and Oscar-nominated films in the last couple of years, Dallas Buyer’s Club (Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won Best Actor and Supporting Actor) and Wild (Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern nominated).
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    Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 25th, 2016

    “It’s time for the biggest gladiator match of all time. Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham”

    In a summer chalked with blockbusters that are expected to defy box office records, dare I say this may be the most anticipated one of them all? When news about this film was first released, opposition rang out on both sides of the spectrum. Some argued that films that feature two characters facing off rarely work, especially when it comes to two heroes. I have to admit that I found myself agreeing with this argument
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    Allegiant

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

    “You want change with no sacrifice. You want peace with no struggle. The world doesn’t work that way.”

    Now that Hunger Games has vacated the crown previously occupied by Twilight, the Divergent series appears to be the only game left in the teen drama genre. Ironically, this series is rounding its final corner with the release of Allegiant, part one of the two-part conclusion to the novel franchise written by Veronica Roth and made popular through Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Miles Teller. The list goes on; however, for the sake of time, we will leave it at that.
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