“Tomb Raider” Review

If the previous Tomb Raider films were ridiculous renditions of a sexy James Bond heroine blazing her way through an Indiana Jones plot, this reboot is a gritty female action picture trapped inside a been-there-raided-that treasure hunting story. It does away with all the silly gadgets, skimpy outfits, and ludicrous setpieces to present a film that turns Lara Croft into a female cross of Rambo and John McClain. It even plays it safe by replicating the most recent and gritty video game. If only the writers and director had the foresight to recognize that treasure hunting movies are goofy and not take Tomb Raider so seriously that it turns into the very corny film it was trying to avoid.
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“A Wrinkle in Time” Review

A Wrinkle in Time encourages for children to succeed with the same embarrassment of parents getting too into your school sporting event. It is a film where multiple times the preteen girl protagonist must be reminded that she is special and can change the world. How she can do this is never made clear, making the inspiration in the picture about as effective as a “Hang in there” cat poster. Well, if that poster had fantastical worlds and magic.
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“Death Wish” (2018) Review

Perhaps it should have been prophetic that Eli Roth’s Death Wish remake had to be rescheduled after the Vegas shooting and is still debuting at the wrong time with the recent Florida shooting. At a time when gun control is the hot topic of debate, the gun-loving insanity of Death Wish comes with bad timing. Or, if you have a throbbing love of guns to an absurd degree, the right time. Yes, I know a film this violent and giddy shouldn’t be approached with a political bias against it, but when a film this bizarre rubs its nose in the issue without saying anything, you can’t help but get a sour taste in your mouth.
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“Black Panther” Review

There is a lot of pressure in the tsunami of cinematic superheroes to make something that will stand out from the crowd, but Ryan Coogler is more than up to the challenge with Black Panther. He doesn’t merely give the hero first introduced in Captain America: Civil War a standard solo film to showcase his powers, world, and rogues gallery. Coogler loads his picture up with a unique style, purpose, and, yes, even politics, to create one of Marvel Studio’s best films and not just a bridge to Avengers: Infinity War.
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“Peter Rabbit” Review

I know the story of Peter Rabbit, the blue-jacket wearing rabbit that didn’t listen to her mother and was almost killed by Mr. McGregor for entering his garden. Ah, but this isn’t that same Beatrix Potter tale. Some executive or producer thought that classic book was too old and lame to be hip with today’s kids. Today’s Peter Rabbit needs to be a character that is rude, crude, and condescendingly snarky with his slapstick battles against McGregor set to the tune of today’s top radio music. Also, he kills people.
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“12 Strong” Review

You can usually tell when a film about Americans doesn’t feel as though it’s directed by one. If you saw Hacksaw Ridge, you could see that Mel Gibson gave the story of Desmond Doss a real perspective and a purpose. Despite the abundance of bloody war scenes, it wasn’t just about the war, but about a philosophy on saving lives in a time of war and how one person can do so much. This is not the case of 12 Strong, a film that seems more concerned with staging cool shots of soldiers on horses than taking in the more personal aspects of such an operation.
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“The Post” Review

In the era of so-called fake news and questioning of journalistic integrity, Steven Spielberg’s The Post is both eerie and timely. It’s a mostly reactionary piece to be sure that focuses more on the importance of the Washington Post’s contribution to free press and representation. And, yes, it does slam its points home with the power of Thor’s hammer. But in an age when we tend to devalue journalism to such a degree, such an impact feels warranted.
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“The Greatest Showman” Review

Songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have been hailed for their amazing lyrical work on last year’s musical hit La La Land, a film with a stunningly invigorating soundtrack of jazz and orchestral wonder. They’re touted on the poster of The Greatest Showman as being hired to breathe that same amount of energy and toe-tapping to the tale of showman P.T. Barnum. Much like Barnum, they do a stellar job at hoodwinking audiences into attending this spectacle for the promise of an entertaining musical. And while director Michael Gracey certainly delivers music and sequences of grand design, there’s an aroma of a machine to its assembly as opposed to the heartfelt biopic of amazing feats this production was going for.
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“The Shape of Water” Review

The Shape of Water presents the argument of why director Guillermo del Toro should be directing the new crop of Universal monster movies and why he will never be chosen for such an honor. He should be directing those films because he has a playful and experimental vision in both direction and tone for crafting an unorthodox creature feature. He won’t be selected because his ideas are just too out there if Universal wants their monster properties to nab some of that blockbuster cash. I can’t imagine general summer audiences would dig a film where a woman has sex with an amphibian creature in a romantic manner.
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“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Review

There’s a promising and foreboding line by Luke Skywalker: “This is not going to go the way you think it will.” Indeed, The Last Jedi aims for the unexpected as the dark and revealing bridge film of this latest trilogy. Questions are answered with shocking revelations, characters must make tough calls in their loyalties, and there’s no guarantee anybody will make it out of this film alive. There’s a lot to take in as writer/director Rian Johnson has filled this movie with so much character, mythos, themes and action that it becomes overwhelming at times. He doesn’t waste our time, but he doesn’t give us much room to breathe in his somberly stirring epic that becomes draining by the time those blue credits roll.
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