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Out in Theaters: ‘KONG: SKULL ISLAND’

Like Godzilla before him, King Kong has since the 1930s become a culturally permeably mainstay. A piece of cinematic iconography, King Kong is the USA’s equivalent to Japan’s giant fire-breathing lizard and both have served to define our country’s spotted history in cinematic terms. But their reach extends beyond the borders of past rivals. Each have become so ingrained in the global zeitgeist that if you plucked a child from just about anywhere on earth, they would likely be able to put a name to a photo or toy of the recognizable giants. Kong, the ape who famously fell, has found his story told a number of times but none have approached the movie monster with quite the same bombastic chutzpah and total IMAX-friendly insanity as Jordan Vogt-Roberts has with Kong: Skull IslandRead More

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Out in Theaters: ‘BEAUTY AND THE BEAST’

Don’t mess with a good thing, so croons an age old adage and Beauty and the Beast, the most recent live action Disney remake, is exemplary of that statement. A near-perfect update of the beloved animated Disney classic, this live-action contemporary version is in many ways a literal note for note transfer, with everything from story beats to musical runs to the lavish costumes tracing 1991’s hand drawn offerings but despite its reciprocal, borderline redundant nature, Bill Condon’s product feels sumptuously loved nonetheless. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS’

Danny Boyle changed the zombie landscape in 2002 with 28 Days Later. Gone were the Romero’s shambling zombified creations, replaced by manic, hyper-speed death darts teeming a land where the human element was just as, if not more, dangerous than their undead counterparts. The horror of these monstrosities were reflected, and even overshadowed, by the horrors of humanity’s ability for societal cannibalism. This theme has been replicated in the sub-genre ever since, with Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead comics taking this thread to new extremes and the record-smashing AMC series following suit. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘LOGAN’

The superhero genre has (deservingly) caught a lot of flack over the years for its Saturday Morning Cartoons rendition of tentpole blockbuster cinema. The Marvel brand in particular was privy to the lather, rinse, repeat template, providing a steady stable of colorful smart asses who smash and bash and save the world, returning to the status quo (or shwarma) when all is said and done to await their next universe saving event. Then along came Deadpool. Say what you will the R-rated superhero flick – like for instance that it falls in line with many of the same familiar tropes it purports to mock – but the gleefully violent and “adult”-oriented box office smash opened the flood gates for more of its R-rated ilk, showing studios through the ever influential power of green (not Green Lantern mind you), that audiences were more than receptive to “mature” content in their superhero films. In fact, they were damn near starving for it.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE GREAT WALL’

An unmitigated juggernaut of bad, pointless cinema, The Great Wall is what happens when globalization and movie-making meets. A historical epic-meets-monster movie ostensibly designed for Chinese and American audiences both, the latest Matt Damon vehicle fails on nearly every level. However if you can feign excitement for a sleep-walking Damon channeling Hobbit-era Legolas to shoot arrows at an endless horde of dog-raptors then please read no further; The Great Wall is the flick for you. If that does not describe your tastes then beware, you’re in store for a long walk off a short plank of stupidity. At only 90 minutes, The Great Wall somehow begins to strain credulity in the shallows of the first act and it only gets worse from there.     Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘XX’

Sundance anthology XX showcases a quartet of effective low-budget horror shorts but the real story here lies in its clever title. A chromosomal tip of the hat, the film’s name refers to the thread that unites the collection of pieces. You see, the talent behind this anthological haunt features an unusual twist – each segment was directed by a woman. Though horror (moreso than any other genre) has given women the limelight ever since the days of Hitchcock, with more leading women than leading men, the Hollywood directorial status quo has remained firmly in place. That is, even though the chicks may hog the spotlight within the genre, more often than naught there’s still a dude behind the camera shaping the majority of the product. 
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Out in Theaters: ‘JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2’

At its core John Wick is pornography. Grade-A, uncut violence porn. Cinematic gun-fu meant to boner pop action junkies looking to get off at the theater. And that’s not a dig against the film. Many lesser films strive to achieve the kind of simple-minded, clear-eyed, uncluttered glory that defines John Wick and get caught up in unnecessary twists or lamebrained character subplots. John Wick proved the power of just shooting a shit load of bad guys in the head in the name of vengeance and it did so gleefully. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE’

A visual sugar rush, The Lego Batman is Bayhem for 5-year olds. A skittle-colored collision of kid-friendly set pieces and jokes that never manage to be as clever or irreverent as its predecessor, even when peppered with good-natured and adult-oriented laughs throughout, this overactive spinoff hosts a collection of pop culture friendly winks and nods with references spanning the last 60 years of cinema but the overabundance of side characters and endless maze of action sequences leaves the animated film feeling dizzying, muddled, overwrought and headache-inducing. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘A CURE FOR WELLNESS’

Part screeching psychological thriller, part squealing body horror (and part total insanity), Gore Verbisnki‘s A Cure for Wellness pairs David Cronenberg to Shutter Island, adding a dash of Looney Toons to cherry-top this fantastical madcap chamber piece. Weighing in at a whooping 146 minutes, the big budget horror-thriller penned by Justin Haythe shifts a deliberately-paced creeper into a balls-to-the-walls sadistic sleeper hit, cranking its bat-shit absurdity high enough to break off the dial and cackling like a madman as it does so.  

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Out in Theaters: ‘WAR ON EVERYONE’

John Michael McDonagh stepped out from the shadows of filmmaker young brother Martin McDonagh, who’s crafted such cult modern classics as In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, in 2011 when he debuted The Guard. That film went on to mild box office success (overseas) and general critical adoration, though I’ll admit the deadpan acidic humor never quite reached me the way that it had so many others. McDonagh’s latest, and his first film set on American soil, is War On Everyone and represents a clear, though offbeat, progression of the director’s interests. Within, he declares war on traditional narrative constructs of law and lawless, cops and robbers, good and evil, giving a grand total of zero fucks along the way. Read More