Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
WICK-edly Entertaining and Over-the-Top; Primo Keanu
JOHN WICK : CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM (2019) *** 1/2
Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Tobias Segal, Anjelica Huston, Said Taghmaoui. Kick-ass continuation in the action franchise with laconic assassin-on-the run/dog lover Wick (Reeves having a helluva field day) facing immense odds on his life with practically EVERYONE out to kill him with a $14M bounty on his head. Proving that excessive violence never solved anything, the outrageous graphic violence is plentiful (um alert Guinness for record held in head shots alone!) and gleefully over the top absurd (a lethal fight has its victim reflect on just what a battle he's been in) and gainfully entertaining. Buckle up. (Dir : Chad Stahelski)
The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
Scareless supernatural chiller
THE CURSE OF LA LLORNA (2019) ** Linda Cardellini,Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Raymond Cruz, Marisol Ramirez, Patricia Velasquez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tony Amendola. Scareless supernatural chiller about a cursed Mexican ghost who comes to claim a widow's young children as her own with nefarious methods. Lackluster script by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis is only hindered by cliche-riddled direction by Michael Chaves.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
"..whatever it takes..."; Fittingly uncompromising final chapter
AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019) ***1/2 Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Brie Larson, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, Tessa Thompson, Rene Russo, Elizabeth Osen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Danai Gurira, Benedict Wong, Pm Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Letitia Wright, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Jon Favreau, Hayley Atwill, Natalie Portman, Maris Tomei, Angela Bassett, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Hurt, Cobie Smulders, Winston Duke, Linda Cardellini, Frank Grillo, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, James D'Arcy, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Redford, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Samuel L. Jackson, Ross Marquand (Voices of: Bradley Cooper & Vin Diesel) Grande finale in the supernova Marvel franchise with the titular super heroic team facing impossible odds in the devastating aftermath of the alien Thanos' universal wipe-out has the Herculean task in changing things back for the better with deadly results in the process. Filmmaking brothers Anthony and Joe Russo continue to balance the amazing set pieces, epic battles and human factor largely thanks to the equally well-written screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely bringing all the feels with its trademark wit and WTF extravaganzas too boot. The astounding ensemble each have their moments but the heartfelt trials that Evans' Captain America and Hemsworth's Thor shine brightly so. Fittingly uncompromising final chapter.
Del Toro & Perlman Are Sorely Missed in yet another unnecesary remake
HELLBOY (2019) ** David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Daniel Dae Kim, Sasha Lane, Sophie Okonedo, Thomas Haden Church. Yet another unnecessary 'remake' of a franchise with somewhat disappointing results - namely Harbour's witless/charmless turn as the titular demon anti-hero who has been enlisted again to stop evil from taking over the world, this time in the form of The Blood Queen (Jovovich attempting to be scary) resurrected with dire circumstances for all. Director Neil Marshall possess none of the spiritual grace nor charm that Guillermo del Toro instilled in the previous incarnations (ditto the sorely missed Ron Perlman whose (other)world(ly) weary personage added some angst and anomie in the mix) and instead plies on the visual effects and gore (not that I don't mind the gore; just saying) with gloppy glee.
To quote Gomer Pyle : "Well Gohh-lee!" Shazam! scores; Levi and the visual f/x are the stars of this fun superhero flick
SHAZAM! (2019) ***1/2 Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Honsou, Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews, Adam Brody, Meagan Good, Michelle Borth, Ross Butler, DJ Cortona, John Glover. A fun mix of light and dark in the superhero genre with foster kid Billy Batson (Angel) finding himself selected by a Wizard (Honsou) to inherit all his amazing powers to fight off an ancient force of evil made up of the seven deadly sins via Strong's villain hellbent on total domination including his ability to transform into the titular, caped do-gooder (ably played by the always amiable Levi echoing both Tom Hanks in 'Big' and Ryan Reynolds as 'Deadpool' but with a PG-13 tongue). Director David F. Sandberg lays on the visual effects with aplomb making for exciting and crowd-pleasing set pieces helped along by its committed by design screenplay by Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke's adaptation of the Bill Parker/CC Beck DC comic book. Must see on the big screen to take in all its gee-whiz slam bang acrobatics.
Pet Sematary (2019)
Darker doesn't necessarily mean better in another unnecessary remake
PET SEMETARY (2019) **1/2 Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow,Jete Laurence, Hugo Lavoie, Obssa Ahmed, Alyssa Brooke Levine. Yet another unnecessary remake however in this case, Stephen King's horror novel of domestic demons, it improves upon the original with a darker tone and substantiate backstory (i.e. Hello Zelda) of the Creeds who move into a home in the Maine woods which houses its own pet cemetery ....and a more sinister grounds with which all resides upon. While it is well cast (particularly Lithgow as the late great Fred Gwynne's local yokel, Jud Crandall, with even more empathy to spare) and produced the film's final act treads on shallow means to an end (i.e. evil triumphs over good). (Dirs: Kevin Kolshc & Dennis Widmyer)
Dragged Across Concrete (2018)
Nifty little slice of pulp fiction
DRAGGED AGAINST CONCRETE (2019) *** Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Laurie Holden, Jennifer Carpenter, Michael Jai White, Don Johnson, Udo Kier, Justine Warrington, Tory Kittles, Vanessa Bell Calloway. Filmmaker S.Craig Zahler slices a nifty little slice of pulp fiction with this cops'n'robbers genre flick about two suspended cops (grizzled Gibson and taciturn Vaughn) who discover a hatching of a crime while deciding to rob the villain's cache of gold. While the screenplay meanders and the pacing is slow and taut, the acting and sudden peppering of explosive violence bring things to a full tilt with anything goes élan. Stick with it and worth a viewing.
Peele's sophomore jinx treads into Shyamalan territory (not.a.good.thing); Nyong'o is the real reason to see it
US (2019) *** Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex. Jordan Peele attempts the sophomore jinx with this decidedly Shyamalan turn (not a good thing) in this horror film about a nuclear family facing a sudden attack by their deadly dopplegangers during a much needed vacation retreat. Claustrophobic and atmospheric (largely thanks to the pin-pricking score by Michael Abels) the film rests its huge agenda (people need people even if they are supernaturally so) on the slender yet capable shoulders of Nyong'o who successfully scores the hat trick in playing both good and evil versions with aplomb and empathy. Otherwise by mid-way you can figure the course of action and the attempt of a twist ending is sadly lacking in subtlety.
Captain Marvel (2019)
MARVEL-ous Larson & cast keep things from going full-tilt in the empowering additont to MCU
CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019) *** Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace (Cameos: Chris Evans, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo) Game-changer for the MCU with Larson (amiable and in control) as Carol Danvers who finds herself smack dab in the middle of an ongoing galactic war with Earth in jeopardy, while she discovers unknown, hidden super powers. While the screenplay by committee (6 credited scribes) occasionally goes off the rails with its mix of humor and big-scale visual effects extravaganzas (the direction by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck; ditto) the ensemble grounds it with the help of its circa 1995 setting (with a killer jukebox soundtrack laden with female empowerment tunes).
They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)
Epic and groundbreaking ; must be seen
THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD (2018) **** Amazing documentary fused with state-of-the-art technology enlivens Peter Jackson's epic undertaking - incorporating dozens of hours of film and audio of British soldiers of WWI (told in their own voices somewhat eerily) by making them come 'alive' with astounding (and painstakingly) techniques by colorizing the black and white and adding fluid motions to the living footage. A testament for a generation nearly gone with heartfelt (and heartbreaking) resolve. Needs to be seen in 3-D and on the big screen.
Surprisingly poignant and unequivocally engrossing; Mikkelsen gives a tour-de-force turn
ARCTIC (2019) ***1/2 Mads Mikkelsen gives a tour-de-force turn as a survivor or an airplane crash in the no-man's land of the title who attempts to continue that journey after his own would-be-heroes crash their plane en route to rescuing him, making for a desperate trek forged thru the whitescapes of ice and snow with deadly consequences. Filmmake Joe Penna wisely eschews dialogue since it is mainly a one-man show of inner resolve and for a silent movie (outside the fine score by Joseph Trapanese) plays with your emotions as the odds get slimmer and the terrain more treacherous. Surprisingly poignant and unequivocally engrossing.
Escape Room (2019)
Entertaining hybrid of SAW & FINAL DESTINATION
ESCAPE ROOM (2019) **1/2 Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Jay Ellis, Tyler Labine, Deborah Ann Woll, Nik Dodani. Relatively ingenious and entertaining horror thriller about a group of strangers invited mysteriously to test a maze of rooms involving high stakes - their mortality - by outwitting the dangerous games designed in order to survive by banding together. The screenplay by Bragi F. Schut and Maria Melnik incorporate cookie cutter roles with a mix of 'Saw' via 'Final Destination' and Adam Robitel's sharp direction keeps things lively.
A Star Is Born (2018)
Cooper and Gaga shine in their respective debuts of filmmaking finnesse
A STAR IS BORN (2018) *** 1/2 Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos, Dave Chappelle, Alec Baldwin, Ron Rifkin, Greg Grunberg, Drena De Niro, Eddie Griffin. Impressive remake of the several times remade classic tale of rags-to-riches showbiz story this time with alcoholic singer Cooper (who also makes his big-screen directorial debut in a big way) meeting an equally talented singer/songwriter (Gaga in her film debut equally in a big way) with fireworks and roller-coaster whirlwind romance in full bloom. Cooper has a natural effect helming his first big film with surprising ease - as well as an here-to-unknown knack for music (singing/guitar playing and writing the film's songs) and coaxes a strong turn for his leading lady and a memorable supporting role of Elliott as his older brother (and a shoo-in for an Oscar).
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Malek is uncanny in this hearfelt biopic/origin story of Freddie Mercury and Queen
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (2018) ***1/2 Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Allen Leech, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers, Aaron McMusker. Malek is uncanny as iconic rock god Freddie Mercury in this rousing biopic and origin story of the group Queen with its charismatic life-force full center and fully fleshed out thanks to Peter Morgan and Anthony McCarten's heartfelt screenplay and Bryan Singer's incredible direction (particularly in the bookending of their memorable performance at Live-Aid).
The Mule (2018)
A dash of 'Catch Me If You Can' and 'The Old Man And The Gun'; Eastwood continues solid streak of excellence
THE MULE (2018) *** Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, Dianne Wiest, Michael Pena, Andy Garcia, Tessa Farmiga, Alison Eastwood, Ignacio Serricchio, Clifton Collins, Jr., Robert LaSardo. The consistently solid Eastwood continues his streak of excellence starring and directing this true-life account of a 90 year old drug mule, Earl Stone, who manages to surprise not only his employers but his estranged family. A dash of 'Catch Me If You Can' and 'The Old Man And The Gun' with Eastwood's patently cool as a cucumber executions keep things rolling smoothly with a peppering of humor and heart.
Stan & Ollie (2018)
Coogan and Reilly Make A DynamicDuo out of a DynamicDuo
STAN & OLLIE (2018) ***/12 Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly, Shirley Henderson, Nina Arianda, Rufus Jones, Danny Huston. Coogan and Reilly are uncannily transformed into the dynamic duo of legendary comedy team Laurel & Hardy (thanks too to make-up by Mark Coulier in the process) in this valentine to the entertainers as a swan song to their act in the mid-50s doing a traveling act thru Europe facing the inevitable - the decline and air or retirement hovering over them. Jeff Pope's intelligent screenplay and Jon S. Baird's careful direction show the men as flawed yet loving and ultimately, humanizing show biz giants with deft aplomb while the two leads flawlessly re-enact classic comedy routines and impeccable impersonations.
Green Book (2018)
Odd coupling and a change in pace for filmmaker Farrelly equals a fine display in production and acting.
GREEN BOOK (2018) ***1/2 Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalo, Dimiter D. Marinov, Mike Hatton. Well-produced and acted true-life account of an odd coupling friendship in the form of Bronx-born tough guy Tony Lip (Mortensen, employing the 'dese,dem & dose' school of acting to the nth degree) hired as a driver for cosmopolitan concert pianist Dr. Don Shirley (stalwart and pristine Ali) circa 1962 thru an 8 month tour thru the Deep South with the as expected tell-tale signs of the times (racism and classism to boot). Unlikely director Peter Farrelly surprises all in a turn of displaying his dramatic goods (sprinkled with enough humor to keep things even-keeled) with ample help from his two leads parrying and giving good with one another. While the seemingly easy to pigeonhole 'sex-change/role reversal DRIVING MISS DAISY' easily could've been the pitch, the screenplay by Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga and Brian Hayes Currie gives enough depth in both characters and a fine arc-piece in the process.
Creed II (2018)
Excellent follow-up to the "Rocky" franchise off-shoot
CREED II (2018) ***1/2 Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tess Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Russell Hornsby, Wood Harris, Milo Ventimiglia, Brigitte Nielsen. Excellent follow-up to the "Rocky" franchise off-shoot with Jordan's Adonis Creed facing his biggest challenge - fighting the son of the man who killed his father in the ring in a championship bout. While the film echoes Rocky II and Rocky IV the overall result is an entity all itself thanks largely to a smart and lean script by Stallone (who co-wrote with Juel Taylor) and an even keeled direction by Steven Caple, Jr. Jordan and Thompson have chemistry to spare and Stallone elicits some deep low-key acting moments of poignancy and tenderness.
Solid sequel to the iconic horror masterpiece
HALLOWEEN (2018) *** Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle, Haluk Bilginer, Will Patton, Rhian Rees, Jefferson Hall, Toby Huss (Voices of PJ Soles, Donald Pleasence). Solid (yet again an unnecessary) sequel to the iconic horror classic 40 years after masked maniac Michael Myers (Courtney and Castle doing double-duty here) was captured and confined to a prison for his holiday killing spree follows suit with his last living victim Laurie Strode (stoic mess Curtis) lying in wait for the inevitable - his escape and hell-bent return to Haddonfield to finish what he started. Filmmaker David Gordon Green, who collaborated on the screenplay with partners-in-crime Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley, abides by the formula (stupid teens/adults make excellent body count fodder) and provides echoes of its original masterpiece (even its director John Carpenter is back riffing on his creepy soundtrack with Daniel A. Davies and his son Cody) with skill and aplomb (and oh yeah ,eschewing the franchise's other films altogether in an elaborate Jedi Mind Trick!)
The Old Man & the Gun (2018)
Sublime apparent swan song for Redford (as an actor); good old-fashioned storytelling and filmmaking at its finest.
THE OLD MAN & THE GUN (2018) ***1/2 Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Elisabeth Moss, Keith Carradine. Sublime apparent swan song for Redford (as an actor) showcases his amiable charm in this (more or less) true-life account of career criminal Forrest Tucker (no, not the actor) whose last chain of bank robberies confounds local police detective Affleck (think Catch Me If You Can's dynamic) determined to nab him for good. Easy going direction by David Lowery (who adapted the screenplay based on a New Yorker Magazine article by David Grann) keeps things even paced with some welcome moments of near folksy/folkstory-like humor (thanks largely to Waits as Redford's cohort in larceny). Good old-fashioned storytelling and filmmaking at its finest.
The Great Buster (2018)
Heartfelt valentine to a true American film icon; one of the year's best films
THE GREAT BUSTER (2018) **** Wonderful documentary on the inimitable comedic icon and filmmaker, Buster Keaton, compiled and narrated by fellow director Peter Bogdanovich who traces the comic's career and troubled life, from vaudeville child star to landmark Hollywood star and eventual global phenomenon with vintage clips of jaw-dropping sequences from Keaton's filmography of his epic death-defying stunts and daredevil display of acrobatics the likes not haven't been matched in generations. Super fans included are Richard Lewis, Mel Brooks, James Karen, Johnny Knoxville, Bill Hader, Werner Herzog, Carl Reiner, Cybill Shepherd, Nick Kroll, Quentin Tarantino, French Stewart and Jon Watts. A must for film buffs.
Truth is stranger than fiction; Lee's best picture in years.
BLACKKKLANSMAN (2018) *** 1/2 John David Washington, Adam Driver, Robert John Burke, Frederick Weller, Michael Buscemi, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Ryan Eggold, Jasper Paakkonen, Paul Walter Hauser, Ashlie Atkinsonm, Harry Belafonte, Alec Baldwin. Spike Lee's truth is stranger than fiction account of the true-life story about a black rookie cop (Washington) who spearheads the investigation of the Ku Klux Klan by disguising his identity as a white supremacist and manages to have his partner Driver infiltrate the local chapter of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Strong acting, firm direction and a steady screenplay guides the film along swimmingly and proves to be one of Lee's best pictures in years.
Love, Gilda (2018)
LOVE indeed; a wonderful valentine to the beloved comedienne; one of the year's best films
LOVE ,GILDA (2018) **** Wonderful documentary on the iconic late, great comedienne Gilda Radner, in her own words (literally her audio tapes and diaries as narrative) depicting her biography from her Detroit bred beginnings to improv group Second City and ultimately to overnight superstardom on Saturday Night Live. While basking in the limelight Radner's insecurities reflect upon her own setbacks including an eating disorder, self-esteem issues and looking for love with all the wrong people until redemption in her marriage to actor Gene Wilder and her valiant, inspiringly courageous bouts with cancer which she ultimately succumbed to. A beautiful valentine to a spirit that is sorely missed. One of the year's best films. (Guest stars - ANNE BEATS, CHEVY CHASE, BILL HADER, MELISSA McCARTHY, LORNE MICHAELS, LARAINE NEWMAN, AMY POEHLER, MAYA RUDOLPH, PAUL SHAFFER, MARTIN SHORT, ROSIE SHUSTER, CECILY STRONG & ALAN ZWEIBEL) (Dir: Lisa Dapolito)
Nic Cage Goes To Hell
MANDY (2018) ***1/2 Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouere, Richard Brake, Bill Duke, Line Pillet, Clement Baronnet, Alexis Julemont, Stephan Fraser. "Nicolas Cage Goes To Hell" easily could have been the pitch for this outré and out-there vengeance horror freakshow with Cage as a logger in a middle-of-nowhere pacific northwest forest who faces the ultimate evil when a cult led by Roache (in a truly out-there turn) that kidnaps and ultimately murder his wife, leading him into a journey thru Hell (practically literally). Demon bikers (echoing the cenobites of HELLARISER), a crimson toned production design and look beautifully comprised by Hubert Pouille and cinematographer Benjamin Loeb bring an eerie, doomed and ultimately dark look to a truly uncompromising vision cooked up by filmmaker Panos Cosmatos and Aaron Stewart-Ahn with a barely reigned in gonzo turn by its star (does anyone do anguished rage like Cage? No; Thank Christ!) and has to be seen to be believed.
The Predator (2018)
Better-than-anticipated upgrade to the sci-fi monster mash franchise
THE PREDATOR (2018) *** Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Jake Busey, Yvonne Stahovski. Better-than-anticipated upgrade to the sci-fi monster mash franchise this time with an alien hunter coming to Earth to infiltrate human DNA to continue its race to dominate the universe with a team of ragtag soldiers led by Holbrook (uncannily resembling a young Mel Gibson) who witnessed the being's arrival (and killing of his men on a mission). Director Shane Black returns to form with the series he was involved in (co-starring in the original) and providing a fast, fun and frenetic screenplay collaboration with another '80s vet scribe Fred Dekker to full tilt high-testoserone, brofest expectations and beyond.