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Wednesday, 03 January 2018 13:53

Game on! – ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’

Written by Allen Adams

One of the realities of Hollywood’s love of sequels, remakes and reboots is that you’re guaranteed a fairly wide range of quality, though history shows that you’re much more likely to get a dud than a diamond. The most effective projects seem to be the ones that can manage to update a property while still retaining the aspects that made them successful in the first place.

That said, be honest – you’ve probably never spoken aloud (or even thought) the sentence “I sure would like to see an updated reboot of the 1995 family film ‘Jumanji’ – preferably starring The Rock.”

And yet that’s what we’ve gotten with “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” It probably seems odd to be getting a movie like this some two decades after the original, but that’s not even the biggest surprise about the whole thing. The biggest surprise?

It’s actually pretty good.

Wednesday, 03 January 2018 13:51

Plummer shines in ‘All the Money in the World’

Written by Allen Adams

Sometimes the narrative surrounding a film threatens to supersede the film itself. The content and relative quality of the movie in question becomes secondary to a story about the movie’s process.

So it is with “All the Money in the World,” a dramatization of the real-life story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, grandson to financial titan J. Paul Getty. But as rife with drama as that tale might be, it paled in comparison to the controversy that surrounded the film and the choices made to address that controversy.

Actor Kevin Spacey played the elder Getty in the movie as it was originally filmed, but following a slew of allegations of sexual assault and other misconduct, the decision was made to remove him from the film and replace him with Christopher Plummer. And despite an incredibly truncated timeline, director Ridley Scott managed to do just that while still sticking to the film’s announced release date.

Wednesday, 03 January 2018 13:49

‘Downsizing’ comes up short

Written by Allen Adams

Sometimes, a film is simply less than the sum of its parts.

Take “Downsizing.” This movie has everything you could want in terms of quality entertainment. You’ve got a talented writer-director auteur-type at the helm in Alexander Payne. You’ve got a top-tier movie star playing the lead in Matt Damon. You’ve got a dynamite high-concept premise that offers fertile ground for satire with room for both humor and hubris.

All the pieces are here. Unfortunately, “Downsizing” can’t figure out just how to put it all together, leading to a film filled with tonal inconsistencies resulting in a haphazard narrative. Instead of assembling one puzzle, this film tries for three or four different pictures; what we end up with is something muddled and more than a little frustrating.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017 13:50

‘The Disaster Artist’ anything but

Written by Allen Adams

James Franco shines behind, in front of the camera

Wednesday, 20 December 2017 13:54

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ far from least

Written by Allen Adams

There are few films as difficult to review as a “Star Wars” movie. There’s such a fine line that needs to be walked with regards to the narrative; no one wants to be responsible for spoiling any aspect of such an eagerly-anticipated cinematic experience. However, you also want to be able to convey your feelings about the movie in a manner that is both engaging and accurate.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017 13:51

Stop and smell the flowers with ‘Ferdinand’

Written by Allen Adams

Retelling of children’s classic offers sweet family fun

Stories of loss are difficult to tell. Finding ways to convey the notion of grief without succumbing to sentimentality or devolving into the maudlin – particularly on-screen – can prove trying to even the most accomplished filmmaker.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017 13:07

‘Just Getting Started’ gets old fast

Written by Allen Adams

Recent years have seen a proliferation of cinematic subgenres that consist of “old person does X.” Sometimes it works – old guy action movies have become a personal favorite. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t – see the spate of old person comedies awash in hijinks and/or shenanigans. Those are occasionally OK, but for the most part, they tend to be dull, derivative or both, failing to do anything beyond lean on their thin premises and jab you in the ribs while suggestively waggling their eyebrows. 

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