Category Archives: Writing

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Directed by: Guy Ritchie Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Tom Wu, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Neil Maskell, Annabelle Wallis, Eric Bana Rated: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some suggestive content and brief strong “King Arthur” is pretty much everything you could want from a medieval Guy Ritchie film. More magic and castles, but still lots of action, sharp and fast dialog, and a gathering of loosely-connected plot elements into a tight finish. It’s a very loose adaptation of the story of King Arthur, but it succeeds at what it aims for: smashing Ritchie’s style together with a mostly straight-forward medieval fantasy story. Think of Richie’s “Sherlock Holmes” movies, but Arthurian rather than Victorian. The film starts with some backstory – an attempt at world domination by a Mage, the betrayal and murder of King Uther (Eric Bana), the King’s only son left to be found and raised by commoners.

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Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

e Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russell, Pom Klementieff, Bradley Cooper (voice), Vin Diesel (voice) Rated: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content 2014 brought us “The Guardians of the Galaxy,” an origin story for a collection of interstellar misfits who wind up having to save the galaxy. “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” picks up not long after the first one ended and takes off running. We learn a bit more about some of the characters, and there’s some sweet, heartfelt material here, but mostly? It’s Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and company trying to save the galaxy once again, and doing so spectacularly. The story mostly revolves around Peter finally meeting his father, Ego (Kurt Russell), and getting some answers about his past. There are a few side plots that intersect with the main one, but they’re all straightforward and make solid narrative sense. Really,

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The Fate of the Furious

The Fate of the Furious

Ealasaid A. Haas Directed by: F. Gary Gray Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood Rated: PG-13 for prolonged sequences of violence and destruction, suggestive content, and language “The Fate of the Furious” is the eighth installment in the popular “Fast and Furious” franchise, and it continues the progression of escalating awesomeness and a steadily growing cast. Not having seen the other movies won’t interfere with enjoying the action sequences, but the secondary emphasis is on family relationships – and without the previous movies, you’ll have to just roll with a lot of the dialog. On the bright side, the progression from 2001’s “The Fast and the Furious” to the new film is a lot of fun to watch. These are movies worth marathoning. “Fate,” like the others, is a cheesy action movie, and it doesn’t just know it, it

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Life

Life

Directed by: Daniel Espinosa Starring: Rebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare, Ryan Reynolds Rated: R for language throughout, some sci-fi violence and terror There are only a few requirements for a horror movie to be really good without being ironically good or campy: decent production values and acting, genuinely horrifying things happening on screen, and refraining from the ridiculous. “Life” succeeds amply in the first two categories, but face-plants in the third. How much ridiculousness it takes to ruin a film is a matter of personal taste, but some generalities are true of a whole lot of people, and “Life” checks several of those boxes. The setup is a familiar sci-fi and horror trope: half a dozen people are trapped in a structure along with a malevolent entity that’s picking them off one by one. “Life” adds in the requirement that the protagonists have to make sure the alien doesn’t get down to

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Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language They say there’s nothing new under the sun, and for most of “Kong: Skull Island,” that is definitely the case. The characters fall into archetypes established back on the silver screen, the monsters are mostly straightforward giant versions of familiar critters, and it’s pretty easy to guess how the film is going to go. There are deviations from the traditional here and there, but this is not a film to see if you’re looking for innovation. If you just want to go to the movies, eat popcorn, and watch a giant gorilla fight a giant dinosaur-looking-thing, it will not disappoint. An opening credits sequence takes us from 1944, when a young American pilot and a young Japanese pilot have the misfortune to crash

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Get Out

Get Out

Written and Directed by: Jordan Peele Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, Lil Rel Howery Rated: R for violence, bloody images, and language including sexual references Jordan Peele is probably best known for being half of the comedy duo “Key and Peele.” When previews for “Get Out” started appearing, the prominent inclusion of his name as writer-director combined with the not-campy clips made some folks wonder if it was a satire, or maybe something in the vein of “Shaun of the Dead.” It’s neither. It’s a straight-up horror/thriller movie that has a central thread of social commentary in it. It’s also really, really good. The film opens with a Black man walking in a neighborhood at night. A car passes him, then turns around and rolls up slowly beside him. We know how that story usually ends, and by evoking that cultural knowledge, “Get Out” reminds us how

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The Great Wall

The Great Wall

Directed by: Yimou Zhang Starring: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Pedro Pascal, Hanyu Zhang, Andy Lau, Willem Dafoe, Lu Han Rated: PG-13 for sequences of fantasy action violence “The Great Wall” is a strange film. There’s a lot to enjoy: stunning visuals, acrobatic combat, impressive special effects, and an exciting story. There’s also a lot that gets dropped in service to the impression the film wants to give: any resemblance to historical accuracy, realistic physiology, or even a ghost of caring about making sense. If you want to turn your brain off and watch awesome battle sequences, “The Great Wall” will not let you down. If you like movies that respect your intelligence and don’t have massive plot holes, stay far, far away. Our protagonist William (Matt Damon) and a small band of mercenaries are trying to find a source of gunpowder they can take home and sell to make themselves comically rich for the rest

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John Wick: Chapter 2

John Wick: Chapter 2

Directed by: Chad Stahelski Starring: Keanu Reeves, Common, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose Rated: R for strong violence throughout, some language and brief nudity. “John Wick Chapter 2” is a solid sequel – if you liked the first film, you should definitely see the second. If, on the other hand, you disliked the first film, chances are very good you should stay away. The dog in this film is not brutally murdered as a plot device, which definitely helps if, like this reviewer, you are an animal-lover and strongly put off by that kind of thing. It shifts the overall tone of the film enormously. That’s pretty much the only difference between the two, though. The story starts in the middle of Wick finishing up the revenge spree from the first film – there’s no interlude of emotional storytelling. The plot is still basically John Wick (Keanu Reeves) vs. the underworld of assassins and

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Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Written and Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson Starring: Milla Jovovich, Iain Glen, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Eoin Macken Rated: Rated R for sequences of violence throughout The latest installment in the popular “Resident Evil” franchise of films is out. As a collection of increasingly spectacular battles between humans and zombies, it’s right up there with the rest of the collection. It also tries to put a new spin on the events of every single previous “Resident Evil” film with several big revelations. How successful that is for you will depend on how demanding you are about the plot consistency, continuity, and coherency of this series of zombie movies. Like all the films in the series, “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” revolves around Alice (Milla Jovovich). It opens with a monologue from her to bring any new viewers up to speed, then dives pretty much straight into action. If you like watching pale and pretty women

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xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

Directed by: D.J. Caruso Starring: Vin Diesel, Toni Collette, Deepika Padukone, Donnie Yen, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Kris Wu, Rory McCann, Samuel L. Jackson Rated: PG-13 for extended sequences of gunplay and violent action, and for sexual material and language As we saw Samuel L. Jackson say in the trailer for “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage,” the entire point of this film is for our heroes to “Kick some butt, get the girl, and try to look dope while you do it.” The women don’t need saving (and do a lot of dope-looking butt-kicking themselves), but otherwise? It nails it. This is not a film about character, serious ideas, or story. This is a big, dumb action movie. It’s a solid entry in the class to which it aspires, so if that’s what you like, you’re probably going to enjoy it. Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) faked his death, but NSA goon Marsh (Toni Collette)

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