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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.

Published in Movies

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.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 03 January 2018 13:49

‘Downsizing’ comes up short

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.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 13:50

‘The Disaster Artist’ anything but

James Franco shines behind, in front of the camera

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 13:49

Voice change - ‘Pitch Perfect 3’

Comedy sequel strikes some odd notes

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 13:47

‘The Greatest Showman’ not that great

Musical has its moments, but mostly falls short

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 13:54

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ far from least

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.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 13:51

Stop and smell the flowers with ‘Ferdinand’

Retelling of children’s classic offers sweet family fun

Published in Movies

We’ve arrived at the end of another year, a year of films good, bad and in-between.

That means it’s time for a look back at what 2017 has wrought in terms of cinema. These lists – both best and worst – are accurate as of press time, though there are some highly-regarded movies that I simply haven’t yet had a chance to see. I imagine that films like “The Shape of Water,” “The Post,” “The Florida Project,” “The Disaster Artist” and “Call Me By Your Name” – just to name a few – would likely compete for spots on this list.

(Note: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” probably warrants inclusion here, but I figure the massive review elsewhere in this week’s edition will serve to make clear my big feelings about that particular offering.)

And again – there’s no denying the subjectivity of lists such as these. In truth, things could break very differently depending on my mood when asked. Still, to my mind these are good, representative lists of movies that you should either a) see as soon as possible, or b) avoid at all costs.

Published in Cover Story

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.

Published in Movies
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