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LATEST REVIEWS
LAND BEFORE TIME: JOURNEY OF THE BRAVE, THE
"Fourteenth in the Series- Let That Sink in a Bit"
1 stars
Charles Tatum says... "When my teenage sons were young children, and in the throes of dinosaur worship that many boys go through, I would get my hands on every "The Land Before Time" videotape I could find. This new entry in the series, the fourteenth, is on par with all of those direct-to-video sequels I used to suffer through. The kids may be enthralled, but parents- you're going to have a miserable time." (more)
FROM VEGAS TO MACAU III
"A sucker bet."
1 stars
Jay Seaver says... "When I saw the first "From Vegas to Macau" at a festival a couple years ago, I figured that I was just a victim of bad expectations, not prepared for something so silly, especially thinking of Chow Yun-fat as an icon of cool. This time, I knew what I was getting into, so maybe it would go over better. No such luck; as much as the zaniness occasionally appeals, it's sloppy and too self-satisfied to work for long stretches." (more)
MONKEY KING 2, THE
"Not an auspicious start to the Year of the Monkey."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Believe it or not, this is not the first Chinese fantasy sequel I've seen where not having seen the predecessor was no big deal because it starts with "500 years have passed..." This is a good thing, because the first movie in an expected Monkey King trilogy never made it to the U.S. (a recurrent event as day-and-date releases become more common). Given that the general word is that this one fixed some of what was wrong with the first, I'm not necessarily eager to catch up; it's a sleek but dull take on the mythology." (more)
CHOICE, THE
"You bother me. Now leave."
1 stars
Jaycie says... ""Now pay attention," intones an unenthusiastic bro-country accent at the opening of this movie, "'cause I'm about to tell you the secret to life. You ready? The whole damn thing is about choices." Wow. Insightful. Or at least it might be if it weren't the message of every Nicholas Sparks story ever, and possibly every story ever in general. What do you have for us next, disembodied cowpie? "Everything happens for a reason"?" (more)
APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR
"Amusing but slight, as is likely appropriate."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Movies like "Appropriate Behavior" are good checks for figuring out just to what degree you are becoming a grumpy old person. Do you find the main character whiny and irritating from the start? Do you get over it? Certainly, the filmmakers have a fair amount of say in this, especially in terms of overcoming those issues and becoming reasonably entertaining, as this one manages." (more)
FINEST HOURS, THE
"Does a bit more than what's expected with what it has."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Movies like "The Finest Hours" win people Oscars. Not folks like Chris Pine and Carry Affleck, but the guys listed as doing research and development for the visual effects companies at the other end of the closing credits, who spend months researching the motion of large bodies of water and figuring out how to replicate it on-screen while other engineers build state of the art machinery to both safely twist a set in any conceivable direction and precisely record this movement (while being buffeted by wind and rain machines) so that a third set of people can digitally stitch it together. These accomplishments alone aren't enough to rate a ticket purchase today, but they're a big part of why a movie like this can be dismissed as enjoyable but not extraordinary, and they'll be making movies better well after we move on to the next thing at the multiplex." (more)
CHOICE, THE
"Pretty Much A Cinematic Kobayashi Maru"
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "As the result of a rather oddball quirk of scheduling, the screening of “The Choice,” the latest big-screen adaptation of a best seller by the tragically prolific Nicholas Sparks, occurred right after the press viewing of “Pride & Prejudice and Zombies,” the film version of the inexplicably popular book that took the Jane Austen classic and, thanks to it being out of copyright, added hordes of flesh-eating ghouls into the mix. Both films are, perhaps unsurprisingly, bottomlessly terrible but those in danger of mixing the two of them up will be relieved to know that there are two major points of distinction between them. For one thing, in the case of “The Choice,” it comes from an author who is bad enough to actually have a movie this lousy connected to their name. For another, while “PPZ,” as the kids are calling it, is lousy with undead creatures stumbling across the screen looking for brains to snack on, any similar hordes attempting the same thing in “The Choice” would wind up dying of starvation long before the end credits." (more)
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES
"Darcy Goes Down"
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "In a just an ideal world, the title “Pride & Prejudice and Zombies” would have turned up as a punchline in a MAD Magazine article about how publishers of classic literature might try to spice up their musty wares in order to attract an entirely new audience and it probably would have scored a decent laugh—the mere idea of juxtaposing Jane Austen’s exquisite romantic comedy of manners with flesh-eating ghouls sounds amusing, at least in theory. Alas, because we live in a terrible world—and one with suspect copyright laws to boot—some idiot not only came up with the jokey title but, in defiance of all rational thought, actually decided to write the damn book, albeit by including enough of Austen’s original text to earn her arguably the least impressive co-writing credit since the 1929 version of “The Taming of the Shrew” allegedly went out with credits that said that it was written by Shakespeare with “additional dialogue by Sam Taylor.” To make matters worse, the thing became a best-seller—though I wonder as to how many people actually made it all the way through and how many gave up after a couple of chapters once the joke wore off—and inspired an entire cottage industry of sequels, spinoffs, rip-offs and the like." (more)
HAIL, CAESAR!
"The Man Who Was Everywhere"
5 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Every few years, Joel & Ethan Coen take a bit of a break from their meticulously crafted and highly artistic productions—things like “Barton Fink,” “Fargo” and “No Country for Old Men”—in order to make something deliberately broad and goofy as all get out, such as “Raising Arizona,” “The Big Lebowski,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and “Burn After Reading.” These film are enormously entertaining, of course, but with the possible exception of “Lebowski,” I am not entirely certain that I would include any of them in a discussion of what I felt were their finest and most memorable films. Now, after a recent string of relatively sober-minded films that included “A Serious Man,” the “True Grit” remake and “Inside Llewyn Davis,” they have once again gone to the goofball side with their latest effort, “Hail, Caesar!,” but this time around, they have attached the wackiness to a narrative and characters as strong and complex as those found in their finest films. The end result is the first genuinely great film of 2016—not that there is much competition for that title—and if I were forced to be make a ranking of all the Coen Brothers joints (as so many on the Internet seem to be doing these days), there is a fairly good chance that this love note/poison pen letter to the Hollywood studio system that was long dead before the Coens began making films themselves would wind up placing very near the top of that list." (more)
VEIL, THE
"To Know a Veil"
2 stars
Charles Tatum says... "When I was reading the credits online to this film, I had quite the "wow" reaction. I didn't care about the cast so much as the writer and director. Robert Ben Garant, comedy writer extraordinaire and cast member of one of my favorite sketch shows of all-time ("The State") wrote a horror movie? And it's being directed by Phil Joanou, director extraordinaire and helmer of one of my favorite high school comedies of all-time ("Three O'Clock High")? What could go wrong? Then I realized that this was being released "straight to internet," and after I watched the film, I understood why." (more)

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