Movie Reviews 

Doctor Strange

by Alan Rapp on November 4, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Doctor Strange
  • IMDb: link

Doctor StrangeFirst introduced in Marvel Comics back 1963, Doctor Stephen Strange finally makes it to the big screen in the latest entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although Marvel Studios has dipped their toe in the water previously with Thor and its sequel, this time the studio dives head first into the mystical for the origin of a neurosurgeon who became the Sorcerer Supreme (Earth’s primary mystical protector).

More notable for its look than plot, Doctor Strange is a visible smorgasbord of delight. After the perfunctory set-up where we’re introduced to a genius/asshole surgeon (Benedict Cumberbatch) whose life turns on a dime with a single event, we follow Strange on his journey to learn the mystical arts in hope of reclaiming what he has lost. That journey takes him to Nepal where he encounters the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and his understanding of the world is forever changed.

Following the basic layout of The Matrix, Strange moves from non-believer to the most powerful wizard ever over the course of the film. It may have taken Luke Skywalker three movies to become a proper Jedi, but like Neo the Doc only needs about 90 minutes.

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Inferno

by Alan Rapp on October 28, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Inferno
  • IMDb: link

InfernoWith each successive entry, the film series based on the Robert Langdon novels of Dan Brown becomes less and less watchable. At this rate the fourth movie may actually make audience bleed out of their eyes. Opening with an incomprehensible first 10 minutes filled with hellish images floating through an injured Langdon’s (Tom Hanks) mind, the film attempts to up the ante by forcing the professor not only to solve riddles and clues to find the truth but this time to do so with amnesia. Along for the ride is his latest attractive European brunette co-star, this time a genius doctor (Felicity Jones) with a love of puzzles (of course) who helps Langdon escape a hospital in Florence when the men who kidnapped him attempt to reacquire the college professor to find a deadly virus.

Rather than unraveling the mysteries of the Holy Grail or delving into a Papal conspiracy, this time Langdon is set after a man-made plague known as Inferno. Created by a billionaire (Ben Foster) obsessed with purging the world of its excess populace, the madman of course left near-indecipherable clues that would make it nearly impossible to see his plan carried out.

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

by Alan Rapp on October 21, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
  • IMDb: link

Jack Reacher: Never Go BackTom Cruise seems to have found himself a new action franchise. These movies may not be in league with Mission: Impossible films, but for trashy B-movie action flicks you could do worse than Jack Reacher and it’s sequel. Returning as former Military Police Officer turned hermit Jack Reacher, Cruise is pulled back to Washington when his phone-friend Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) gets herself arrested.

After breaking Major Turner out of prison, Reacher and his new partner search for answers as to who really killed the soldiers under her command and the reason why someone is going to such trouble to hide the truth. Along the way they will also pick-up a teenage girl (Danika Yarosh) who is targeted by the shadowy private military organization (is there any other type?) responsible for framing Turner. Without giving away the reasons for her involvement in the adventure, the subplot does offer a stronger emotional tie to Reacher’s mission the second time around.

The sequel lacks the over-the-top crazy villain Werner Herzog provided in the first film but has plenty of private soldiers for Reacher to take down (sometimes quite brutally) over the film’s two-hour running time.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

by Alan Rapp on September 30, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  • IMDb: link

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar ChildrenAdapted from Ransom Riggsnovel of the same name, Tim Burton‘s latest tells the story of high school outcast named Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield) who is drawn into a mystical and macabre world following his grandfather’s (Terence Stamp) death as he discovers all the childhood bedtimes stories told to him are actually based on real people and real events just waiting for Jake to find them.

As a film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children features all the trademarks of Burton’s style, although without Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter the movie feels more serious and less madcap than several of the director’s more recent projects. As a story, the movie feels very much like a book (somewhat akwardly) adapted to film. The odd story moves in fits and starts introducing Jake’s life prior to his grandfather’s death, his psychoanalysis, and his journey to England with his father (Chris O’Dowd), before getting down to introducing Miss Peregrine (Eva Green in the role Helena Bonham Carter would usually play) and her unusual students all trapped in a time-loop in a single day during WWII where they are safe from the monsters hunting them.

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The (Not-Quite) Magnificent Seven

by Alan Rapp on September 23, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Magnificent Seven (2016)
  • IMDb: link

The Magnificent SevenThe remake of 1960’s The Magnificent Seven starts in much the same manner, with a over-the-top villain (Peter Sarsgaard) threatening the prosperity of a peaceful farming town. Unable to protect themselves a small group (Haley Bennett and Luke Grimes) leave the town looking to hire gunmen with their meager resources. What they find is bounty hunter who helps recruit a motley crew of cowboys and outlaws willing to take on impossible odds for little reward.

There are some important differences between the two films (and not only the fact that the setting is moved from Mexico to a nondescript location somewhere in the Old West). The first is choosing to make the quest personal for one member of seven which changes the climax of the film in ways that aren’t necessarily improvements. As with the other changes (such as the town’s reaction to the outlaws, the makeup of the seven themselves, and a more dramatic tone to the movie), choosing to make the lead character’s choice as much about vengeance as justice is an important distinction. Because of this, and the more dramatic slant to other aspects of the story, the remake lacks the larger rousing heroic scale of the original.

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