Category Archives: Writing

Underworld: Blood Wars

Underworld: Blood Wars

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Tobias Menzies, Lara Pulver, Charles Dance, James Faulkner Directed by: Anna Foerster Rated: R for strong bloody violence, and some sexuality “Underworld: Blood Wars” is the fifth installment in this fan-beloved and critic-despised franchise. If you haven’t seen the others, don’t worry – what little information you need to enjoy the film is recapped in an opening narration and occasional flashbacks. This is not a subtle series, but “Blood Wars” tries its best to have a complex and interesting story. What matters to most of us, though, is whether it’s awesome or not – and rest assured, it is exactly as awesome as the rest of the series. Elite vampire warrior Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is back in her immaculate black latex and flowing coat, but rather than pursuing vengeance, she just wants to be left alone. The previous films have left her bereft of everyone she cares about, and she

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Assassin’s Creed

Directed by: Justin Kurzel Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Ariani Labed Rated: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, thematic elements and brief strong language It’s generally best to keep one’s expectations low when it comes to movies based on video games, and “Assassin’s Creed” is no exception. If all you want is cool fights, exciting chase sequences with lots of parkour-style stunts, and Michael Fassbender showing off his time in the gym, you’ll almost certainly enjoy it. If, on the other hand, you are hoping for an enlargement of the universe of the games or even just a movie that holds together well, stay away. Like the games, “Assassin’s Creed” focuses on a modern-day descendant of the ancient order of Assassins. Cal (Fassbender) falls into the hands of the Templars, ancient enemies of the Assassins, who plan to use a machine called the Animus to force our hero to relive

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Passengers

Passengers

Directed by: Morten Tyldum Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen Rated: PG-13 for sexuality, nudity and action/peril There are common tropes in movies that drive some viewers up a wall but don’t bother others in the slightest. Modern romantic comedies are stuffed with them, and don’t let its scifi premise fool you: “Passengers” is in the same general genre. If you don’t mind obsessive, unhealthy relationships and women who reward bad behavior in heroes, you’ll probably like it. If, on the other hand, love being used as an excuse for female characters abandoning their own lives and ambitions aggravates you, stay far away. The setup for the film is pretty straightforward: the starship Avalon is on its 120-year trip from Earth to the colony planet Homestead II. Its 5000 passengers and 200-odd crew are in stasis, set to wake up a few months before the ship arrives at their new home. After something goes

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Directed by: Edward Zwick Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh, Aldis Hodge, Patrick Heusinger, Holt McCallany Rated: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some bloody images, language and thematic elements Tom Cruise has produced a new Jack Reacher film, “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.” This is a sequel to the mostly-overlooked film he produced in 2012, “Jack Reacher.” Both are based on the books by Lee Child, but book fans will probably find a lot to irritate them here. This is a decent action movie, with good fight choreography and a subversive feminist streak (especially as compared with the book). The plot revolves around Major Turner (Cobie Smulders, familiar to MCU fans for her work as Agent Maria Hill), a military police officer who uncovers corruption involving a government contracting company and winds up with a target on her back. She and Reacher are not-quite-friends, but he cares enough about her that when

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Directed by: Tim Burton Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson, Judi Dench, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Stamp Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and peril Tim Burton’s newest film (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) features neither Johnny Depp nor Helena Bonham Carter, and doesn’t even have Danny Elfman doing music. His normal level of kookiness is also somewhat absent. To top things off, he stuck his foot in his mouth during a recent interview and said some pretty racist stuff. Folks trying to decide whether to see “Miss Peregrine’s” will need to weigh not only considerations of book adaptation and tone, but also whether his remarks affect their comfort with paying to see his film. All of this aside, the film is pretty good. The book it’s based on is very popular, and fans of the book will need to be okay with major changes between page

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The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Haley Bennett, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Peter Sarsgaard Rated: PG-13 for extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material “The Seven Samurai” is hands-down one of the best samurai movies ever made. When John Sturges helmed “The Magnificent Seven,” a remake of it as a Western back in 1960, he created one of the best Western movies ever made. Antoin Fuqua and his cast work hard to make the remake-of-the-remake as superlative as its predecessors, but the pieces don’t quite come together enough. It’s good, but it left me wanting to watch the other two rather than to rewatch the new one. This is a good movie, but nowhere near as good as it wants to be. The general story is the same: a small town is being terrorized by bad guys,

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Mechanic: Resurrection

Mechanic: Resurrection

Directed by: Dennis Gansel Starring: Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Sam Hazeldine, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Yeoh Rated: R for violence throughout and language Summer movie season has pretty much wrapped up, and we’re heading into the Halloween crop of scary movies before the big family flicks of Thanksgiving and Halloween. If you haven’t quite gotten your fill of explosions and mayhem, “Mechanic: Resurrection” is here, hoping to fill that gap for you. Unfortunately, unless you want to go mock a movie relentlessly, you’re probably better off staying home. The first film, a remake of a 1972 Charles Bronson movie, was a gritty action flick that kind of fell apart toward the end. The new film never gets things together enough for them to fall apart. This feels like someone took pages out of a bunch of cheesy old action flicks, shuffled them together, and started filming. Sadly, it doesn’t have the charm of those campy

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Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad

Directed by: David Ayer Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jay Hernandez, Joel Kinnaman, Jared Leto Rated: PG – 13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language Where Marvel Comics landed square into their standard tone with “Iron Man,” DC Comics seems to be casting about. After a handful of increasingly gritty films, we’re now presented with “Suicide Squad,” which tries very hard to be both gritty and funny. That’s probably a necessity, in some ways – if you’re going to have a handful of supervillains as your protagonists, you need some humor or nobody’s going to empathize with them. “Suicide Squad” succeeds on some levels, but not on others, and whether someone likes it or not is largely dependent on which elements are most important to them. The squad of the title is the brainchild of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). Her plan: the US government uses imprisoned

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Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters

Directed by: Paul Feig Starring: Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Neil Casey Rated: PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor The new “Ghostbusters” film has been polarizing since it was first announced. It reboots the classic franchise, but with four women as the titular characters – a casting choice that enraged at least as many people as it thrilled. Like most comedies, if you go into the theater expecting to hate it, it isn’t going to win you over. It’s not “Citizen Kane,” it’s a popcorn movie. A good popcorn movie, but still too light and fluffy to win over any naysayers. If, on the other hand, you’re excited (or at least willing to be excited) about it and you enjoy lightweight summer flicks, you’ll probably be pleased. Former friends Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristin Wiig) and Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) have gone their separate ways since Erin left

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Independence Day: Resurgence

Independence Day: Resurgence

  Directed by: Roland Emmerich Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Maika Monroe, Jeff Goldblum, Sela Ward, William Fichtner, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner Rated: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and destruction, and for some language 1996’s “Independence Day” didn’t set itself up for a sequel. It’s getting one anyway – but the returning cast and crew make a lot of smart decisions. While it’s obviously an attempt at starting a franchise to squeeze more money out of an existing property, it’s also pretty successfully a fun summer blockbuster. This is the kind of movie that’s perfect for times when you just want to spend three hours in air conditioning, sipping a cold drink and watching things blow up. Surprisingly, “Independence Day: Resurgence” not only works the 20-year gap between films into the story well, it gives us a pretty well-thought-out portrayal of a post-alien-invasion Earth. The planet has kept the unity developed in the first film, with

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