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All’s Quiet on the Front in Brutally Hard-Fought Survival Saga ‘ARCTIC’

A marooned man’s survival in the Arctic gets much more complicated when a helicopter crashes attempting to rescue him. He decides to save the lone survivor, taking her life into his hands and, in doing so, igniting anew his purpose to live. The measured survivalist story Arctic is as cold and quiet as the frigid tundra for which it is named, its protagonist Overgård (played with silent ferocity of will by the ever-reliable Mads Mikkelsen) is a man of few words but powerful convictions, convictions which bleed through the veteran actor’s pores, adding soul and pathos to this testament of the human spirit in times of great adversity. Read More

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Inferior ‘THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART’ Still Relentlessly Catchy

Five years after The Lego Movie stormed theaters and unexpectedly blew back the hair of critics and moviegoers alike (only to be shut out of the Oscars animated film contest entirely), the world is a very different place. The White House is occupied by a hot Cheeto-colored p*ssy-grabber. White nationalists march the streets with tiki torches. The world’s climate is going haywire, meaning raging summers of fire and winters of blistering cold. Basic civility has sunk to dwell with Davey Jones locker. Everything is decidedly not awesome. Even the toys know so.  Read More

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‘THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT’ Fulfills Title’s Promise with Medium Fanfare

Decidedly less pulpy and more sobering than its grindhouse name implies, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot stuffs existential drama into a B-movie premise to mixed results. Sam Elliot plays Calvin Barr, a stony tracker who must sit on the fact that he assassinated Adolf Hitler half a lifetime ago. Nowadays, Calvin haunts a local dive, drinking two fingers of cheap whiskey, bending the ear of George the bartender.  Read More

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Exploitative Metal Thriller ‘LORDS OF CHAOS’ Pushes Sacrilegious Buttons  

Ye of purer form, be warned! There’s a moment early on in Jonas Åkerlund’s Norwegian black metal exploitation film Lords of Chaos that’ll determine your ability to stick around for the rest of the two-hour true crime feature. 22-year old singer “Dead” takes a kitchen knife and vertically slashes both his wrists. He then takes the knife to his own throat. Blood pouring from the self-inflicted wounds, “Dead” puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger. Making permanent good on his extreme namesake. Read More

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‘ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL’ An Eye-Popping Spectacle Without an Ending

Assembled from the scrapyard of a nine-volume run of cult mangas from the 90s, Alita: Battle Angel is the joint production of director Robert Rodriguez and producer James Cameron. Looking at it from a distance, you might assume the costly mega-manga adaptation were more the work of the later. And that’s anything but a ding. Alita has the look and feel of a Cameron sci-fi epic. The world building is sprawling. The effects are tip-top. The spectacle is massive. There’s a reason the blockbuster guru said that the “only way” to experience his latest was in a theater. He wasn’t lying.  Read More

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Generic ’MISS BALA’ An Anti-Feminist Female-Led Actioner

It’s hard to consider Miss Bala with anything but startling disappointment. A Hollywood actioner led by a young Latina starlet, retooling a Mexican critical darling for American audiences, in a coming out party for Gina Rodriguez. If all these were working in harmony, this could have worked out very, very well. In the hands of Catherine Hardwicke, it does not. Like, at all. The Twilight director shaves Miss Bala down to the most generic premise and skates around the very thing that could have made it a powerful feminist action film – empowering the woman at the center of the film, tinkering with the best-laid plans of mice and men that seek to dominate her. Instead, Rodriguez’s Gloria is passive eye candy, consistently strong-armed (physically and mentally) by the men around her, and only taking agency at the very last moment possible.  Read More

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Stylish, Surreal ‘PIERCING’ A Tempestuous Cat and Mouse Murder Game

A husband and father’s scheme to kill a prostitute goes wrong when she stabs herself first in Nicolas Pesce’s devilish Piercing. Pesce’s bloody adaptation of Ryū Murakami’s short Japanese novel of the same name is deeply sardonic in nature, a clever two-person play on that age-old “desperate man kills sex worker” trope that flips the script in deliciously dark manner. Picture American Psycho for millennials, with less business card panic attacks and more feminist subversion, and you’ll be somewhere in the right ballpark.  Read More

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The 100 Greatest Horror Films of the Decade

Love ’em or hate ’em, horror movies are more popular now than they have ever been. And for great reason. This decade has delivered a multitude of diverse horror options, smashing box office records, and even earning a slew of major awards nominations along the way. What’s more, the genre of late has taken a notable step forward out of the schlock, ceaseless sequels, and torture porn of the decade that preceded it and instead allowed fresh voices to give the genre a fresh coat of paint. Whether you prefer plain-ole slashers, psychological thrillers, sensual vampires, classic possessions, evil haunted houses, or even killer mermaids, the 2010s have delivered in spades. And then some. Read More

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Discombobulated ‘Serenity’ Nears ‘The Room’ Levels of Unintentional Hilarity

There are bad movies and there are bad movies, the distinction being that the one is purely torturous to watch whereas the other has the alchemic ability to actually bring us great pleasure. To transmute movie-making stool into movie-watching gold. It’s observed in the difference between Michael Bay’s Transformers movies and XXX: The Return of Xander Cage; the line in the sand dividing Yoga Hosers and The Snowman. They’re all bad but some are bad enough to double back and turn sour to sweet.  Read More

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Well-Meaning ‘THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING’ A Mostly Meh Modern Reimagining of Arthurian Lore 

Joe Cornish huffed and puffed and blew down the gates of Hollywood in summer 2011 with his critically-acclaimed inner-city alien invasion flick Attack the Block, blowing back the hair of sci-fi fans the world over in the process. In the intervening eight years, Cornish hasn’t had much on his platter, his solitary IMDB credit one of a small army of writers on Marvel’s Ant-Man (prior to that, he earned marks co-writing Tintin). After a long holiday away from the director’s chair, Cornish’s latest The Kid Who Would be King slashes into theaters in the midst of January’s dumping ground and despite being a somewhat imaginative PG-take on King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table plopped in 21st century London, this fails to feel like the brainchild of someone who’s been methodically tinkering away at a passion project in the many-year interim and seems more like a desperate last minute plea to not be forgotten to the annals of directorial history. In short, it’s just not that special. Read More