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  • ‘The Mountain Between Us’ more of a molehill
    ‘The Mountain Between Us’ more of a molehill

    There are a lot of reasons to dislike a movie. Perhaps the story doesn’t appeal to you. Maybe the performances fall flat or the visuals are uninteresting. Maybe you resent how a beloved character or franchise was treated.

    But all of those reasons have decisions behind them. Whether you agree or not, the filmmakers involved have had a distinct idea with regards to what they want the film to be. That doesn’t mean it’s a GOOD film, but at least it knows what it is.

    Something like “The Mountain Between Us” is something altogether different – and much worse.

  • An android dream deferred - 'Blade Runner 2049'
    An android dream deferred - 'Blade Runner 2049'

    There’s a lot of risk that goes into revisiting an idea long after the fact. Adding to a cinematic universe that has been both unchanged and largely beloved for decades is a demanding prospect. To be able to do justice to the original and satisfy its acolytes while also telling a story that feels both new and necessary, well … that’s a real challenge.

    For example: Ridley Scott’s 1982 film “Blade Runner” is one of the most cherished sci-fi films in movie history. If you’re going to make a sequel to THAT film – one that in many ways essentially served as the model for the genre for 30-plus years – you better be damn sure you get it right.

    “Blade Runner 2049” gets it right.

  • ‘Flatliners’ dead on arrival
    ‘Flatliners’ dead on arrival

    Hollywood’s current tendency toward remakes and reboots of preexisting properties isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, the right filmmaking team can take an older idea and breathe new life into it, creating something that both honors the source material and brings something uniquely its own to the table. The end result can be a really enjoyable movie.

    Other times, a filmmaking team can completely miss whatever it was that made a property engaging in the first place and create something that is utterly devoid of anything remotely resembling value – entertainment or otherwise. That end result can be a truly terrible movie.

    A movie like “Flatliners.”

  • 'American Made' flies high
    'American Made' flies high

    Are we running out of movie stars?

    One of the unanticipated side effects of the current trend toward blockbuster franchise building is a sense of interchangeability with regards to the actors. That’s not to say there aren’t gifted actors floating around in spandex or grittily shooting bad guys; there certainly are. It just doesn’t matter as much anymore which specific gifted actor it might be. These films are about the property, not the performer.

  • 'Gerald's Game' well worth playing
    'Gerald's Game' well worth playing

    We’re in the midst of a Stephen King moment.

    If it seems like the master of horror has achieved a sort of pop culture ubiquity recently, well … that’s because he has. Big-screen cinematic projects (“IT,” “The Dark Tower”) and television series (“Mr. Mercedes,” “11/22/63,” “The Mist,” “Under the Dome”) have been abundant over the past couple of years, but the latest new offering lands somewhere in the middle.

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