Arts/Entertainment

Movie Review -- 'How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden Kingdom' is Decent, But Doesn't Muster the Same Magic as the Original

It’s all but guaranteed that the third entry in a film franchise won’t live up to the heights of the first two. Maybe the original writers and directors moved on, or the previous films didn’t leave enough narrative potential to sustain a third film, but it’s rare for a franchise to remain strong through three entries. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, while a fun conclusion, upholds this rule and does not chart a course for anything but more of what we’ve seen.

Or, rather, you’ve maybe seen. I remember loving the first How to Train Your Dragon...

Movie Review -- The Rom-Com Parody 'Isn't It Romantic' is Too Cliché for Its Own Good

 

According to TV Tropes, the Internet’s most addicting repository of storytelling devices, the term ‘lampshading’ is “the writers’ trick of dealing with any element of the story that threatens the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief, whether a very implausible plot development, or a particularly blatant use of a trope, by calling attention to it and simply moving on.” It’s the wink-and-nod to the audience that says “We know we’re making something really cliché, so that makes it okay” and has become an almost essential scripting tool now that audiences have instant access to nearly every movie ever made.

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Movie Review -- 'The Lego Movie 2' is Filled With Fun, Adventure and Plenty of Memorable Music

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, is unique in the sense that it’s the second film in a series, while it’s the fourth film in the Lego Movie franchise. The success of the first film led to The Lego Batman Movie (an entertaining diversion), followed by Lego Ninjago (the less said about it the better), but those films occupy some other corner of the larger Lego Universe. It was a valid question of whether Warner Animation Group could live up to the hype of the first adventure of Emmet (Chris Pratt), Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), and Batman (Will Arnett).

The...

Movie Review -- 'Serenity' is Another Expected January Movie Flop

It’s the early months of the 2019 year, which means all the good movies that came out months ago are lining up for awards. Which means the movies coming out in theaters… generally speaking, aren’t really at risk of missing out. But even with this knowledge, nothing could really prepare me for Serenity.

Matthew McConaughey is Baker Dill, a deep sea fisherman who captains the Serenity, a small fishing boat. He lives on the vaguely Caribbean Plymouth Island, taking rich tourists out to sea so they can catch trophy fish, but getting in the way...

Movie Review -- 'Welcome to Marwen' Disappoints Despite Being Based on a Compelling True Story

Not too long ago, I was driving up north at night to work on a project the following morning. I was tired and disillusioned, and was going through a Caribou drive thru to be able to make the journey. It was then I heard Mark Hogancamp on NPR, talking about his town of Marwencol, what happened to him and his recovery, and the photos he took of his town that made him famous enough to get a movie about him starring Steve Carell. Maybe it was the way he spoke about his work that struck a chord with me, or maybe I was emotionally raw and extra receptive to his story, but I was fascinated and wanted to know more. A month later, the first trailer for...

Movie Review -- 'Mary Queen of Scots' Has the Right Pieces, But Never Fully Develops

Sometimes I wonder if the renaissance of high budget narrative TV shows has spoiled us media consumers. The ability to stretch a story out to better flesh out side characters and give story arcs more of an emotional heft when they come to a climax has been wielded well in shows like Game of Thrones. And attracting A-list talent has fully removed the medium gap that kept movies prestigious yet brief and television cheap yet better developed.

This comes to mind after seeing Mary Queen of Scots. There’s a lot to like about it -- the 16th Century world is rendered...

Your Oscar Movie Favorite: Brother Where Art Thou?

With a sense of alarm, I read that the new Coen flick The Ballad of Buster Scruggs will see a very limited theatrical run in just a handful of cities -- with bookings as short as two weeks. Netflix bankrolled the picture and is carefully guiding distribution alongside its live streaming launch. As a devoted Coen brothers fan, there was no way I was going to miss the movie on the big screen. Alright, a quick search to locate where Buster Scruggs is showing and oddly only the Landmark Lagoon Cinema is popping up? Why wouldn’t they put such a hot property from our hometown icons in the modern and expansive...

Movie Review -- Rami Malek Shines as Freddie Mercury in 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

Biopics tend to go one of two ways. Either they’re a pivotal moment in the subject’s life that’s explored in depth, or it’s a collection of vignettes that are strung together as close to a traditional film narrative as possible to tell a full life story. Personally, I prefer the former to the latter, since we as the audience get to fully immerse in a chapter of history and discover more of the (hopefully not fabricated) behind the scenes build up to the events and stories that are the entire reason for a biopic in the first place.

Having said that, if anyone is going to tell a story about Freddie Mercury,...

Movie Review -- 'The Predator' is Another Poor Attempt at Rebooting a Franchise

I’ll be upfront with my sins against the obsession with everything 80s and 90s - I’ve never seen Predator or Predator 2. I’ve gleaned that the important lines are “Get to the choppa!” and “You’re one ugly m-fer” from growing up surrounded by pop culture, and I’m at least familiar with the original premise being “It’s The Most Dangerous Game… but with aliens.” So director Shane Black’s The Predator could be a perfect follow-up to those original films, and that would have been lost on me. I’m sorry.

I have, however, seen Predators, the 2010 entry to the franchise. This was the first...

Movie Review -- 'Peppermint' is a Forgettable Revenge Flick

Peppermint is a frustrating film. Not because of a dense plot, or an unconventional, challenging ending, but because it inadvertently teases better movies as it speeds along down well driven roads.

To start with, we’re introduced to Riley North (Jennifer Garner) as she dispatches a man in a parked car. The opening titles start, with a montage of Los Angeles’ condo towers juxtaposed with the tents and shopping carts of Skid Row. I wasn’t expecting social commentary in this action movie, but hey, I’m game.

Riley’s barely stapled herself back together in the back of a van before we’re...