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'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' Twists And Turns Its Way Into One Of The Best Movies Of The Year
Production: Acting: 
Playwright Martin McDonagh has been making quite a name for himself in Hollywood. He burst onto the scene in 2008 with In Bruges and continued his success with 2012's Seven Psychopaths. Now, he's back with his best work yet, the masterful Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is about a woman named Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand from Fargo and Almost Famous) whose daughter was sexually assaulted and murdered in the town of Ebbing, Missouri. Frustrated...

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'Roman J. Israel, Esq.' Is The Movie Denzel Washington Fans Have Been Waiting For
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
For the last few years, Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington has been toiling away in either bland theatrical adaptations (Fences) or phone-in action films (The Magnificent Seven). The one constant has been that, no matter how bad the material is, Washington brings his A game to the screen, frequently elevating the quality of the film by simply being in it. Now, he finally gets a movie that is worthy of his talents with Roman J. Israel, Esq. Roman J. Israel, Esq. stars Washington as an attorney, of course...

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'Justice League' Is A Messy Superhero Team-Up That Lacks Weight
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Action Sequences: 
At the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the DC Extended Universe put itself on a path with one inevitable destination. Now, that destination has arrived in the form of Justice League, the superhero team-up movie that would bring DC Comics' most iconic heroes together in one cinematic adventure. This is Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) all on the same screen, for the first time in a live...

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'Lady Bird' Shows That Greta Gerwig Can Literally Do It All
Production: Comedy Factor: 
In front of the camera, Greta Gerwig has proven herself to be a powerhouse of independent cinema with show-stopping and scene-stealing performances in movies like Mistress America, 20th Century Women, and Maggie's Plan. Now, audiences get to see what she can do behind the camera with her solo directorial debut Lady Bird. Quite simply, Lady Bird is the story of a young girl named Christine McPherson, who calls herself Lady Bird (Brooklyn's Saoirse Ronan), as she makes her way through her senior year...

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Nothing In 'Murder On The Orient Express' Is As Epic As Hercule Poirot's Moustache
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Throughout the twentieth century, Agatha Christie wrote dozens of mystery novels. Many of those books have been turned into movies. And of all of the Agatha Christie works that have been made into movie, Murder on the Orient Express is one of them. Murder on the Orient Express sees superdetective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh from Dunkirk) riding the Orient Express train on his way to another case. When one of the fellow passengers, a mysterious man named Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp from Black Mass)...

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'Devil's Whisper' Is A Typical Possession Movie That Still Manages To Have A Bit Of Bite
Production: Scary Factor: 
Devil's Whisper is about a high school boy named Alex (Luca Oriel from "Shameless") who aspires to be a priest. His grandmother has just died, and her belongings were passed on to his mother, Lucia (Tessie Santiago from "Scandal"). While going through the items, Alex and his father, Marcos (Marcos A. Ferraez from "Sons of Anarchy"), find a completely sealed box in an armoire. They hear something rattling around inside, so they do what anyone would do; they saw it open with a bandsaw. Inside is an old...

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Joe Lynch's 'Mayhem' Is The Executive Takedown That Subordinates Can Only Dream About
Production: Action Sequences: 
Scary Factor: 
Ever since the first episode of the seventh season of "The Walking Dead" (spoiler alert) killed off the character of Glenn Rhee, fans have been wondering what actor Steven Yeun has been doing. Rest assured, he's still been kicking tail in director Joe Lynch's Mayhem. Mayhem is set in a quasi-futuristic world where a virus called the Red Eye Virus gets rid of the human decency in everyone it infects. The problem is so rampant that the judicial system has come up with a "Red Eye Defense" for infected people...

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'Thor: Ragnarok' Is The God Of Thunder's Best Outing Yet
Production: Action Sequences: 
Say what you will about Thor: Ragnarok biting Guardians of the Galaxy's style or trying to reinvent the hero, what matters is whether a film works or it doesn't. And Marvel's third outing for the God of Thunder works in numerous ways. This is by far the best film with Thor as its main hero; it's funnier, more action-packed, the story has weight, and the cast is firing on all cylinders. Most importantly, Marvel finally has found a place for Thor within the library of its cinematic universe, making him an otherworldly...

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'Wonderstruck' Doubles Down On The Slowly Unravelling Mysteries
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
From Velvet Goldmine to Carol, director Todd Haynes has proven himself to be both a competent and versatile filmmaker. Wonderstruck proves it even further. Wonderstruck tells the story of a young boy in 1977 Minnesota named Ben (Oakes Fegley from Pete's Dragon) who goes deaf after a freak accident. When his librarian mother (Manchester by the Sea's Michelle Williams) dies, Ben runs off to New York City in search of his father. Wonderstruck also tells the story of a young deaf New Jersey girl named Rose...

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'The Killing Of A Sacred Deer' Is Yorgos Lanthimos At The Top Of His Game
Production: Cinematography: 
Score & Soundtrack: Scary Factor: 
Between the disturbing Dogtooth and the quirky The Lobster, writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos has emerged as one of the most unique voices in independent film. And The Killing of a Sacred Deer may just be his masterpiece. The Killing of a Sacred Deer stars Colin Farrell (The Beguiled) as Dr. Steven Murphy, a heart surgeon who lives an idyllic life with his lovely wife Anna (Nicole Kidman from Lion and Stoker) and two perfect children Kim (Tomorrowland's Raffey Cassidy) and Bobby (Sunny Suljic from The Unspoken)....

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'Blade Of The Immortal' Bookends A Hero's Journey With Some Epic Battles
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Since his first film in 1991, Japanese director Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) has pumped out an average of almost four movies per year. A little quick and dirty math reveals that Blade of the Immortal is the filmmaker's 100th film. Blade of the Immortal is about a samurai warrior named Manji (Takuya Kimura from Hero) who, after witnessing the murder of his sister, single-handedly takes on a tribe of swordsmen. He fights valiantly and kills most of the men, but in the end, he is defeated. An...

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'Tragedy Girls' Is A Slick Modern Slasher That Combines A Retro-Kitsch Style With Pitch-Perfect Execution
Production: Comedy Factor: 
Scary Factor: 
What do you get when an up-and-coming writer-director team casts a couple of superhero movie (kinda) stars in a horror comedy? You get Tragedy Girls, that's what. Tragedy Girls is about a pair of high school girls named Sadie Cunningham (Brianna Hildebrand, better known as Deadpool's Negasonic Teenage Warhead) and McKayla Hooper (Alexandra Shipp, aka Storm from X-Men: Apocalypse) who call themselves The Tragedy Girls. They boost their online presence by killing people and bragging about it on their "Tragedy...

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'Suburbicon' Is A Twisting Parable That Succeeds More Than It Falters
Production: Writing: 
While the marketing for Suburbicon would have you believe that the movie is a revenge tale about a suburban father who tries to protect his family from nefarious characters, George Clooney's latest directorial effort is all about misdirection. Much like the idyllic suburban neighborhood that serves as the namesake for the film, there is a dark and morally reprehensible soul bubbling right beneath the surface. Suburbicon is one part social commentary and one part dry comedy, and it's surprising just how entertaining...

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'All I See Is You' Is Not The Blake Lively Movie You Think It Is
Production: Cinematography: 
At first glance, All I See is You seems like it would be the triumph-of-the-will love story. Nothing could be further from the truth. All I See is You stars Blake Lively (The Shallows, The Age of Adaline) as Gina, an American woman living in Thailand who has been blind since a childhood car accident that took the lives of both of her parents. Through a miracle of modern medicine, her sight is restored, and she goes on a celebratory vacation to Spain with her husband, James (Jason Clarke from Dawn of the...

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Without All The Film School Padding, 'Shortwave' Would Be, Well, Short
Production: Scary Factor: 
Shortwave is about a couple, Josh (The Stranger's Cristobal Tapia Montt) and Isabel (Juanita Ringling from the "C" section of The ABCs of Death), who moves to a secluded country estate in order to put their lives back together after the disappearance of their child. Josh is a research scientist, and his partner, Thomas (Into the Storm's Kyle Davis), accompanies the couple so that he and Josh can continue their work studying short wave radio frequencies. Josh and Thomas have a breakthrough, discovering a...

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'Geostorm' Is A Disaster Flick To Avoid
Production: Writing: 
Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Heat waves. Earthquakes. Cold fronts. Floods. A film about natural disasters and the effects of climate change on earth couldn't be more topical. And that's part of the draw with Geostorm: to see how/if mother nature can be controlled. Well, according to Geostorm, it won't take very much time -- just a lot of money and global cooperation -- to control the weather. Via a space station, of course, and a net, and a lot of satellites that manipulate weather patterns through Dutch Boy (that's...

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'The Snowman' Is The Best Looking Unfinished Movie Ever
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Scary Factor: 
Norwegian author Jo Nesbø has been writing novels about a troubled homicide detective named Harry Hole (no, really, that's his name) since 1997. Twenty years after the first Harry Hole novel, the brilliant investigator is finally hitting American movie screens in The Snowman. The Snowman sees Harry (Michael Fassbender from Alien: Covenant and Frank) investigating a series of killings in Oslo, Norway. The killer, who preys upon women with children, taunts Harry by building snowmen outside of his crime...

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'Goodbye Christopher Robin' Tells The Tale Of A Childhood Icon - Without The Childlike Wonder And Innocence
Production: Acting: 
Goodbye Christopher Robin is about British writer A. A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson from Ex Machina), who, after returning home from the front after World War I, struggles to find his place in the world. With wife Daphne (Suicide Squad's Margot Robbie), son Christopher Robin (newcomer Will Tiltson), and nanny Olive (Trainspotting's Kelly Macdonald) in tow, Milne relocates from London to the English countryside for some peace and quiet. After spending time with Christopher and his stuffed animals (which include...

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'Breathe' Misses The Real Robin Cavendish Story
Production: Writing: 
Andy Serkis has been the go-to CG effects motion capture artist for years thanks to his performances in, among dozens of others, the Lord of the Rings and the Planet of the Apes movies. He's a modern Hollywood institution. So, it's a curious decision that his directorial debut would be a movie like Breathe. Breathe is about British tea broker Robin Cavendish (Silence's Andrew Garfield) who, on a trip to Africa in the 1950s, contracts polio and ends up paralyzed from the neck down. He winds up bedridden...

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'The Florida Project' Is A Visually Striking Look At Adult Problems Through Childrens' Eyes
Production: Acting: 
Cinematography: 
A couple of years ago, director Sean Baker solidified his reputation as an indie-filmmaker-to-watch with the groundbreaking Tangerine. Now, with all eyes on him, he follows it up with the equally impressive The Florida Project. The Florida Project is about a week-to-week hotel in Orlando, Florida (right in the shadow of Disney World) run by a kindhearted man named Bobby (Willem Dafoe). A little girl named Moonee (Brooklyn Kimberly Prince) lives there with her drug-addled mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite)....

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Recently Released in Theatres
'ClownTown' Is A Generic Stalk-And-Siege Movie That Still Manages To Pack A Few Good Scares
Production: Scary Factor: 
The news has been full of sightings of creepy clowns lately, some trying to lure kids into the deep dark woods while others are content just to lurk and look. Well, as if ripped from today's headlines, ClownTown wonders what would happen if these jokers took it a little further. After a pre-credits scene that is as obvious of a tribute to John Carpenter's Halloween as one is bound to find in movies today (there's even a character named "Mr. Strode"), ClownTown ends up being about a group of young folks...

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'The Magnificent Seven' Is A Good Popcorn Action Movie - Nothing More, Nothing Less
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
Action Sequences: 
While it may be hard to prove that Hollywood is truly out of original ideas, there hasn't been any recent shortage of remakes and reboots. This summer alone has provided moviegoers with re-imaginings of Ghostbusters and Pete's Dragon, as well as a Blair Witch movie that, let's face it, may as well be considered a remake rather than a sequel. Well, summer's got one more familiar property for audiences: a remake of the seminal 1960 western The Magnificent Seven. The Magnificent Seven takes place in a typical...

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'Operation Avalanche' Is Lo-Fi For Film Geeks And Conspiracy Theorists
Production: Cinematography: 
Taking place in 1967 right as the Space Race between the US and the USSR was heating up, Operation Avalanche is about a pair of CIA agents named Owen Williams and Matt Johnson who are sent into NASA to uncover a mole planted by the KGB to sabotage the Apollo moon landing program. Filmmakers themselves, Owen and Matt pose as documentary directors who are making a movie about the program, but their primary objective is to uncover and flush out the Russian spy. During their investigation, they learn that the...

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'Blair Witch' Has The Same Fun Spirit As The Original, With More Storyline...And More Scares
Production: Cinematography: 
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There can be little doubt that The Blair Witch Project has been one of the most legendary and influential movies of the modern era. The 1999 no-budget classic practically jump-started the "found footage" trend of filmmaking (whether it gets credit or blame is up to you, dear reader). A year later a sequel was made - Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 - which confounded and alienated most audiences. Now, more than fifteen years later, the direct sequel for which fans have been clamoring is here, simply entitled...

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'Snowden' Shows Off Oliver Stone At His Most Polarizing
Production: Cinematography: 
In recent history, few figures have been as polarizing as National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Some feel he is a patriot, while others consider him a traitor. In Snowden, writer/director Oliver Stone (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July) makes it clear which side of the fence he is on. Snowden begins in 2013 with Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt from Looper and The Dark Knight Rises) meeting film director Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo from Prisoners and The Big Short), reporter Glenn...

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Despite All The White Powder, 'White Girl' Is As Bland As White Bread
Production: Writing: 
White Girl is about a young college student named Leah (McFarland, USA's Morgan Saylor) who, along with her best friend/roommate Katie (India Menuez from Something in the Air), moves into a new apartment in a seedy part of New York. Looking to score some marijuana in her new neighborhood, Leah boldly approaches a Hispanic man on the street named Blue (Nerve's Brian Marc) and asks if he's selling - and promptly starts dating him. Leah ends up latching onto Blue's world of drugs and thugs, and also ends up...

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'The Neon Dead' Has More Neon Demons Than 'The Neon Demon'
Production: Cinematography: 
Score & Soundtrack: Scary Factor: 
Earlier this year, Nicolas Winding Refn's strangely hypnotic The Neon Demon was released to receptive-yet-confused audiences. To add to the confusion, there is now a movie called The Neon Dead that has found its way to American horror fans. Luckily, the two movies could not be more different. The Neon Dead is about a recent college graduate named Allison Hillstead (Marie Barker from "Horror Hotel: The Webseries") who, while getting ready for a job interview, discovers a zombie woman living in her home....

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'Sully' Shows Another Side Of The 'Miracle On The Hudson'
Production: Acting: 
Most Americans know the story. On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 departed from LaGuardia Airport, bound for Charlotte, North Carolina. Just after takeoff, the plane ran into a flock of birds and both engines were disabled. The pilot, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, was forced to put the plane down in the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 people on board. Well, finally, this incredible story has been made into a movie. But, Sully is not the movie that one might expect it to be. The...

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'Little Men' Is A Lighthearted Movie With A Powerful Undercurrent
Production: Directing: 
Coming-of-age movies usually deal with kids growing up. But sometimes, as Little Men shows, the adults go through some growing pains, too. Little Men is about a thirteen-year-old boy named Jake Jardine (Theo Taplitz in his first feature-length role) whose grandfather dies and leaves a Brooklyn building to Jake's father, Brian (Little Miss Sunshine's Greg Kinnear), and mother, Kathy (Jennifer Ehle from Fifty Shades of Grey). Since Brian is an under-employed actor, he decides to move the family from their...

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'Other People' Laughs And Cries With Raw, Genuine Emotion
Production: Comedy Factor: 
One of the most surprisingly funny movies to hit theaters last year was the festival darling Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, in which "Saturday Night Live" alum Molly Shannon played the mother of the titular girl who spends the entirety of the film dying of cancer. Now, it's Shannon's turn to face the deadly disease in Other People. Other People is about a struggling television comedy writer named David (Jesse Plemons from Black Mass) who moves back in with his family in order to help care for his cancer-stricken...

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The Light Between Oceans Is High Drama With Top-Tier Acting
Production: Acting: 
The Light Between Oceans is a tearjerker. It's the type of movie where, if you aren't hearing sobs at least a few times throughout the film, then you are likely in an empty theater, or you're seated in a room full of soulless monsters. Director Derek Cianfrance has never been one to shy away from tough subject matters, but here he finds a delicate balance between the wistfully happy and the unbearably depressing. At times it may feel like the film is trying to force the audience with contrived plot points,...

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'Morgan' Disappoints With Its Sci-Fi Predictability
Production: Scary Factor: 
From the trailers and advertisements, Morgan looks like it could be a sequel to last year's Ex Machina. While Morgan does share some of the same themes and ideas as Alex Garland's robotic masterpiece, and even goes so far as to flaunt some similar imagery, Morgan is no Ex Machina. The title character in Morgan, played by hip horror It-girl Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), is a Hybrid Biological Organism, which means that she (or it, depending on who's talking) was manufactured with synthetic engineered DNA...

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Fede Alvarez's 'Don't Breathe' Is An Edge Of Your Seat, Fright-Filled Thrill Ride
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A few years back, writer/director Fede Alvarez took on the unenviable task of remaking Sam Raimi's legendary cult classic The Evil Dead. He knocked it out of the park; Alvarez's Evil Dead, a dark and brutal interpretation of the tongue-in-cheek original, was one of 2013's best movies. Now, with Raimi behind him once again as a producer, Alvarez is back with his follow-up - the equally dark and brutal Don't Breathe. Set in the rundown slums of Detroit, Don't Breathe is about a trio of burglars - a young...

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'Killer Party' Is A Zombie Movie With A Refreshing Lack Of Zombies
Production: Comedy Factor: 
Scary Factor: 
For the better part of three years, first-time filmmaker Alex Drummond's The Shower has been toiling away in its various forms on the festival circuit. Finally, it will be available to audiences - only the name has been changed to Killer Party. Killer Party is about a group of Hollywood twenty-somethings who are attending a baby shower. In the middle of the party, there is an outbreak that turns ordinary people into murderous maniacs, resulting in widespread rioting across the city. The guests lock themselves...

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'Hell Or High Water' Feels Like A Lost Coen Brothers Faux-Western
Production: Writing: 
Between his prison drama Starred Up and his sci-fi romance Perfect Sense, director David Mackenzie has been simmering away in the independent filmmaking underground. With Hell or High Water, he is poised to break through. Hell or High Water follows the exploits of Toby and Tanner Howard (Star Trek's Chris Pine and Warcraft's Ben Foster, respectively), a pair of brothers who systematically rob banks all over West Texas. It also follows a cop named Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges from Crazy Heart) who, days...

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Fear Not - 'Pete's Dragon' Will Not Ruin Your Childhood
Production: Special Effects: 
Score & Soundtrack: 
In 1977, as a seven-year-old kid, I loved the original Pete's Dragon. The clever blend of animation and live action stuck me on the hook, and the catchy songs reeled me in. Not even the two-hour-plus running time discouraged my "Sesame Street" attention span. So, while everyone else was worrying about whether or not this year's Ghostbusters remake would ruin their childhood, I was quietly anticipating Pete's Dragon with a mixture of hope and apprehension. Hope won out. Pete's Dragon is about an orphan,...

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'Sausage Party' Is An R-Rated Toy Story, And It's Hilarious
Production: Comedy Factor: 
Imagine Toy Story, but instead of a talking cowboy doll and spaceman, the main characters were a talking hot dog and bun. And instead of the world of toys come to life, the world of food takes on a mind of its own. That's basically Sausage Party in a nutshell. Oh, and the food is raunchy, foul-mouthed, and borderline offensive at every turn. At its core, Sausage Party is about a grocery store filled with sentient food, all of which believe that being "chosen" by a human means they are moving on to some sort...

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'Suicide Squad' is a Messy Anti-Superhero Movie
Production: Action Sequences: 
What if Superman came down to Earth and, instead of helping the population, decided to enslave it? That's the question posed by Suicide Squad, director David Ayer's anti-Avengers, a movie where the bad guys unite under the flag of good, while at the same time consistently reminding us they are bad. It's a movie that, in principle, sounds intriguing, if for no other reason than we don't often see movies starring the bad guys. But unfortunately, outside of a few strong performances, Suicide Squad's concept is...

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Modern Action Movies Have Passed 'Jason Bourne' By
Production: Action Sequences: 
For all intents and purposes, the Bourne franchise has been batting 1.000 with Matt Damon in the lead role. The Bourne Identity came out with a surprise blend of espionage and gritty action, and its follow-ups, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, continued that legacy. Speaking of legacy, it's best to forget the Jeremy Renner-led spin-off The Bourne Legacy, which proved that it is Damon (and in part director Paul Greengrass) that makes the franchise tick. So then, with Damon and Greengrass back...

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'Macbeth' Is A High Production Value Adaptation That Lacks Purpose
Production: Acting: 
Like most of Shakespeare's plays, Macbeth is a story that has graced the silver screen its fair share of times. Some productions choose to play it in a modern context, others adapt Shakespeare's dialogue to a common tongue, and some simply play it straight. Justin Kurzel's Macbeth adapts Shakespeare as only a film could, putting the story into its correct setting and context, and preserving all of the sharp dialogue. It is, for all intents and purposes, exactly what Shakespeare fans will expect from a cinematic...

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The Whole Of 'The Danish Girl' Is Less Than The Sum Of Its Parts
Production: Acting: 
Sometimes, a movie will bring together a bunch of great elements, yet the movie itself will still be mediocre. The Danish Girl is one of those times.The Danish Girl is about a couple of married artists named Einar and Gerda Wegener (Eddie Redmayne from The Theory of Everything and Alicia Vikander from Ex Machina, respectively) living in Copenhagen in the 1920s. Einar is a successful and respected landscape painter, while Gerda is a talented-yet-struggling portrait artist. One afternoon, Gerda's model cancels...

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'The Wonders' Is A Confused Movie With No Real Story - But Lots Of Bees
Production: Directing: 
Every director dreams of making personal movies. The problem is that when a movie gets too personal it fails to connect with the majority of its audience. That's the main problem with the new movie from writer/director Alice Rohrwacher (Corpo celeste), Le meraviglie. Or, as it's known in English, The Wonders.The Wonders is about a family of beekeepers who lives in a crowded house in the Tuscan countryside in Italy. Although the mother, Angelica (the director's sister, Alba Rohrwacher from I Am Love), and...

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'Legend' Lacks Cinematic Punch, Despite A Solid Performance From Tom Hardy
Production: Acting: 
Legend seeks to tell the tale of Reggie and Ronnie Kray (Tom Hardy in dual roles), two East End London gangsters with a set of chips on their respective shoulders. Twin brothers with seemingly noble intentions despite criminal aspirations, the Krays are each a unique brand of gangster. Ronnie is a schizophrenic homosexual and prone to random bouts of violence or aggressive behavior; while Reggie is the more even keel brother, who wants nothing more than to control London through intimidation and a dapper look....

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'Victor Frankenstein' Is Not Your Grandfather's Frankenstein Movie
Production: Special Effects: 
Scary Factor: 
The first spoken line in Victor Frankenstein is "You know the story." And of course, everyone does. But it has never before been told like this.Shown from the point of view of the humble assistant Igor (played by Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, who has also been making a name for himself in the horror world with movies like The Woman in Black and Horns), Victor Frankenstein begins at a circus where Igor performs as a hunchbacked clown. The deformed fool also has a very bright medical mind, and it...

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Wide Open and Brutally Honest, 'James White' Packs An Emotional Punch
Production: Acting: 
Borderline Films is the production company formed by film school pals Antonio Campos, Sean Durkin, and Josh Mond. The three filmmakers alternate projects, with two producing while the third writes and directs. So far, the partnership has been fruitful, with Durkin helming Martha Marcy May Marlene and Campos coming up with both Afterschool and Simon Killer. Now, it's Mond's turn to take the wheel with James White.Played by Christopher Abbott (A Most Violent Year), the title character in James White is a...

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'Theeb' Is Part Coming-Of-Age Story And Part Incredible Journey Film, All Held Together By Beautiful Scenery
Production: Acting: 
Cinematography: 
In the Arabic language, the word Theeb means "Wolf." It is also the name of the title character of an Arabic movie.The eponymous Theeb is a young boy, played by Jacir Eid, who is growing up amongst his Bedouin people in Arabia during World War I. With the help of his older brother, Hussein (Hussein Salameh), Theeb is learning the ways of his nomadic tribe, mastering tasks like shooting rifles and killing goats, in order to become a man in the eyes of his people. One day, a British soldier named Edward (Jack...

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'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2' Provides A Fitting End To An Inconsistent Franchise
Production: Action Sequences: 
Like those of Twilight and Harry Potter before, the saga of The Hunger Games is coming to a close. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 signifies the fourth and final installment of the popular teen movie franchise. But does it go out with a bang or a whimper? Well, it kind of does both. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 picks up right where Mockingjay - Part 1 left off, with Katniss Everdeen (American Hustle's Jennifer Lawrence) as the Mockingjay - the public figurehead of...

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Bryan Cranston Takes The Hollywood Ten From The Blacklist To The Black Market In 'Trumbo'
Production: Acting: 
Cinematography: Score & Soundtrack: 
One of the most embarrassing times in American film history occurred just after World WarII when the country's politics and patriotism got the best of it. The House Un-American Activities Committee, or HUAC, was formed to uncover citizens with ties to the Nazi and Communist parties. In 1947, the committee turned its witchhunt towards the Hollywood motion picture industry, and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo got caught up in the middle of it. Trumbo is his story.Trumbo stars Bryan Cranston (Godzilla, "Breaking...

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'Brooklyn' Is Saoirse Ronan At Her Tired, Poor, Huddled Best
Production: Acting: 
Set in the 1950s, Brooklyn stars Saoirse Ronan (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Eilis Lacey, a young Irish woman who is excited to cross the Atlantic and start a new life in America. She says goodbye to her family and makes the journey, moving into a boarding house in Brooklyn, New York. At first, Eilis finds the city intimidating and gets extremely homesick. Eventually, however, Eilis discovers her place in New York, taking a job in a department store, going to night school to learn bookkeeping, and even...

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'The Night Before' Is A Modern Stoner Christmas Classic
Production: Comedy Factor: 
After tackling TV show heroes, the apocalypse, and even Kin Jong Un, it seemed only a matter of time before comedic writing duo Seth Rogen (Neighbors) and Evan Goldberg (This Is The End) took on the Christmas movie. However, after The Interview, it became clear that maybe giving Goldberg and Rogen unfettered control wasn't the best idea. So for The Night Before - Rogen & Co.'s send up of a Christmas movie (Home Alone, Die Hard, etc.) - the duo has enlisted some help. Rather than direct the movie themselves,...

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'Spotlight' Makes Heroes Out Of Reporters In A Surprisingly Suspenseful Pseudo-Mystery
Production: Acting: 
Set in Boston in the early 2000s, Spotlight is named after the four-person team of Boston Globe reporters who uncovered the massive sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. The movie is the true account of their investigation. Led by Walter 'Robby' Robinson (Birdman's Michael Keaton), the team of Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo from Infinitely Polar Bear), Sacha Pfeiffer (Aloha's Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James from Time Out of Mind) digs into allegations of child molestation in the...

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'By the Sea' Is The Cinematic Equivalent Of Vaguebooking
Production: Cinematography: 
Angelina Jolie (or Angelina Jolie Pitt, as she's now known) really wants to be a director. Her behind-the-camera debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, was a wreck. Her follow-up, Unbroken, still fell flat, despite the best efforts of a Coen Brothers script and a first-rate cast. Well, for her third foray into directing, the self-indulgent By the Sea, she brings along her husband, the one and only Brad Pitt (Fury, World War Z). Unfortunately, his presence doesn't help much. By...

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'Entertainment' Spends Some Quality Time With The Saddest Funnyman Around
Production: Acting: 
Comedy Factor: 
Entertainment is all about a bad stand-up comedian (Gregg Turkington, better known by his fictional comic alter-ego name Neil Hamburger) who is making his way to Los Angeles across the American southwest, doing gigs in crappy nightclubs and dive bars as he goes. Along the way, he calls his estranged daughter every chance he gets with the hope of reconnecting with her. He also meets colorful characters who help to enrich his touring experience. That's really all of a synopsis for...

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'Time Out of Mind' Lets The Audience Spy On The Life Of A Homeless Hero
Production: Cinematography: 
Sound: 
Time Out of Mind is a line from a Warren Zevon song and the title of an album by Bob Dylan. And now, it's a movie by writer/director Oren Moverman (Love & Mercy, The Quiet Ones). The film stars Richard Gere (Pretty Woman, An Officer and a Gentleman) as a homeless man named George who wanders the streets looking for a phantom person named "Sheila." What George really wants is to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Maggie (Jena Malone from Sucker Punch), and he spends much of each of his days standing...

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'Time Out of Mind' Lets The Audience Spy On The Life Of A Homeless Hero
Production: Cinematography: 
Sound: 
Time Out of Mind is a line from a Warren Zevon song and the title of an album by Bob Dylan. And now, it's a movie by writer/director Oren Moverman (Love & Mercy, The Quiet Ones). The film stars Richard Gere (Pretty Woman, An Officer and a Gentleman) as a homeless man named George who wanders the streets looking for a phantom person named "Sheila." What George really wants is to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Maggie (Jena Malone from Sucker Punch), and he spends much of each of his days standing...

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'The Hallow' Takes All The Usual Suspects And Turns Them Into A Creative Creature Feature
Production: Scary Factor: 
Director Corin Hardy has been so mired in the entertainment news reports of the on-again/off-again status of his next project, the controversial remake of The Crow, that many people have forgotten how he's got a new movie to promote. Well, he does: the nifty little creature feature The Hallow. The Hallow is about a scientist named Adam Hitchens (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter's Joseph Mawle) who moves his wife, Clare (Bojana Novakovic from Devil and Drag Me to Hell), and their infant son...

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'Suffragette' Is An Woefully Passionless Passion Project
Production: Acting: 
Cinematography: 
This year, there has been a surprising number of movies about civil disobedience. From the feel-good Jimmy's Hall to the god-awful Stonewall, theaters have been full of social activism and quests for political reform. There's one more to add to the pile: the British feminist movement movie Suffragette. Set in England in the year 1912, Suffragette stars Carey Mulligan (Inside Llewyn Davis) as Maud Watts, a young working-class mother who, through a co-worker named Violet Miller (Before I Go to Sleep's...

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'The Keeping Room' Serves Up A Heaping Helping Of Genre-Bending, Gender-Defying, Western-Revising Suspense
Production: Writing: 
Movies about the American Civil War usually focus on the soldiers, the men fighting on the front lines. There was another side to the war, one that is explored in The Keeping Room.Set in the South in 1965 right as the Civil War is winding down, The Keeping Room is about a trio of young women - Augusta (Brit Marling from Sound of My Voice), her younger sister Louise (The Homesman's Hailee Steinfeld), and a slave girl named Mad (Muna Otaru from "Whitechapel") - who have been left alone while the men of the...

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'Truth' Has A Message, But It Gets Lost In The Reporting
Production: Acting: 
Set just as George W. Bush was gearing up his bid for re-election in 2004, Truth stars Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) as Mary Mapes, a news producer who, fresh off her Peabody Award-winning breaking of the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal, is looking for her next big scoop. She thinks she has found it when she receives a tip that suggests that Bush used his family connections to sneak into the Texas National Guard, thereby avoiding Vietnam. Mary assembles an investigative team which consists...

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'Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension' Answers The Questions That Should Be Left Unanswered
Production: Cinematography: 
Scary Factor: 
When Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension was first announced, series producer Jason Blum promised that it would answer all of the questions that have been brought up by the first five movies. Well, considering the ambiguity of some of the franchise entries, that's a bold statement.Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension starts out promisingly enough, with a young man named Ryan Fleege (Chris J. Murray from Bad Roomies) moving into a new house with his wife, Emily (Brit Shaw from "Nashville"), and young...

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'Experimenter' Serves Up A Different Kind Of Mad Scientist Movie
Production: Acting: 
Directing: 
The subject of Experimenter, the new film from writer/director Michael Almereyda (Cymbeline), is psychologist Stanley Milgram (played in the film by Peter Sarsgaard from Black Mass), a researcher at Yale University in the early sixties who devises an experiment where one test subject quizes another on a series of word associations, and the tester is told to administer a painful shock to the other participant each time they get an answer wrong. The tester is told that the experiment is about memory retention...

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'Death Valley' Is A Brilliant Character Study With Idiotic Characters
Production: Cinematography: 
There has quite possibly never been a more appropriately titled movie than Death Valley; not only is it set in the desert area after which it is named, but there's plenty of death to be had in that breathtakingly cinematic valley.Death Valley is about a movie producer named Billy Rich (Freddy vs. Jason's Lochlyn Munro) and his actress fiancé Annie Gunn (Katrina Law from "Arrow") who, along with newlywed tourist couple Jamie and Roy Dillen (June's Victoria Pratt and Nick E. Tarabay from "Spartacus: War of...

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'Steve Jobs': A Portrait Of The Myth As A Broken Man
Production: Writing: 
Acting: 
Most know Steve Jobs as the mythic, silver-haired, bespectacled figure in the black turtleneck, who is best known for introducing the world to the Mac, iPod, and iPhone. However, few know the man behind the turtleneck; the brutal businessman, the impersonal inventor, and the selfish father who is synonymous with Apple. Danny Boyle's biopic Steve Jobs hopes to shed more light on that second figure, and does so with the help of a sharp script by Aaron Sorkin and a bold performance by Michael Fassbender. The...

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'Goosebumps' Serves Up All Of R.L. Stine's Monsters In One Bite-Sized Movie
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
Comedy Factor: Scary Factor: 
R.L. Stine has sold millions of copies of his Goosebumps series of children's books, and a successful Saturday morning television show has been spawned off of the property. So, when the time came to make a movie of the series, how did the filmmakers think of a story that hadn't already been done when all of the good books had been previously made into T.V. episodes? Goosebumps figured it all out. Goosebumps is about a teenage boy named Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette from Prisoners) who moves to Madison,...

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'Crimson Peak' Tries To Tell A Gothic Ghost Story Without Any Ghosts
Production: Cinematography: 
Scary Factor: 
Between the action movie Pacific Rim and the superhero flick Hellboy, it's easy to forget that Guillermo del Toro has made horror movies like Cronos and The Devil's Backbone. The filmmaker would like to remind audiences of that fact with his latest movie, the gothic ghost story Crimson Peak. Crimson Peak is the story of a young aspiring author named Edith Cushing (Stoker's Mia Wasikowska) who meets a charming Englishman named Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston from The Avengers) who is seeking funding...

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