Live by Night Review

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AMBITIOUS AND INTRIGUING,

BUT NOT WELL-ROUNDED


 

American author Dennis Lehane has worn many hats over the years, partaking in various media outlets in his creative works. Debuting his first novel (A Drink Before the War) in 1994, Lehane then continued to write, producing several successful novels, with some a part of a series and some standalone stories. While critics and avid readers loved Lehane’s works, Hollywood had also caught the eye of his novels, with several film adaptations of his books, including The Drop, Mystic River, Gone, Baby, Gone, and Shutter Island. In addition, Lehane has also worked on several TV projects, including HBO shows The Wire (for story and teleplay) and creative consultant on Boardwalk Empire. Now, actor / director Ben Affleck and Warner Bros. Pictures, present the newest film adaptation from Lehane with the movie Live by Night. Does this latest “page to screen” film bring Lehane’s story to life or does fail make to the jump? Read more

Underworld: Blood Wars Review

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DEAD ON ARRIVAL


 

Before Twilight came along put a romantic spun of the fantasy paranormal world of Vampires and Werewolves, the Underworld movie franchise found the two races at war, locked in a fearsome struggle for centuries. Created back in 2003, the first film (Underworld) presented viewers to the world of Vampires and Werewolves (dubbed Lycans in the film’s world) as well as introducing to the series’ main protagonist character, the vampire Death Dealer named Selene, played by actress Katie Beckinsale. With the exception of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, the third film in the franchise, which is intended to be a prequel to the first film, the Underworld series as followed Selene, chronicling her adventures during this everlasting war, with the character finding both love and loss, betrayed by her own kind, and becoming an intricate piece to potential end the war between the races. The franchise has been met with moderate success, with enough fandom and box office success to keep the series alive. However, it’s been awhile since Beckinsale’s Selene was on the big screen (the fourth film Underworld: Awakening came out in 2012) and franchise has been slowly loosening its steam and overall thrills. Now, Screen Gems (Sony Pictures), Lakeshore Entertainment, and director Anna Foerster presents to further continue to the franchise with the fifth installment titled Underworld: Blood Wars. Does this new movie find hope for this long-running series or has the war between Vampires and Lycans waned over the years and ultimately lost interest with the current moviegoer generation? Read more

Monster Trucks Review

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NOT MUCH UNDER THE HOOD


 

Director Chris Wedge has animated background. Not so much in saying in his personal life, but rather in his previous work as a director of animated movies. After directing two short films (Tuber’s Two-Step and Balloon Guy), Wedge directed the cartoon short titled Bunny and won an academy award for best animated short film. After that, Wedge help co-found the animation studio Blue Sky Studio and is the Vice President of Creative Development there. Being a value component to the team, Wedge lent his hand to several animated feature films to Blue Sky, this includes their first theatrical release 2002’s Ice Age as well as 2005’s Robots and 2013’s Epic. Now, making the jump from animation to live-action, director Chris Wedge, Paramount Pictures, and Nickelodeon Movies present the family feature film Monster Trucks. Is Wedge’s first live-action debut worth seeing or is it just a monster mess? Read more

Lion (Keith’s Guest Review)

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Five year old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty five years later (now Dev Patel), armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.

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A Monster Calls Review

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HOW DOES THE

STORY BEGIN (AND END)?


 

Does art reflect life or does life reflect art? Such is the case in bring the tale of A Monster Calls to life. While Patrick Ness is considered to be author of the book, the original creator mind this inspirational tale was Irish author Siobhan Dowd. She was already an establish author, with four books written, before beginning on her fifth book titled A Monster Calls, Unfortunately, Dowd, who was battling with breast cancer (a similar trait to a character in A Monster Calls), passed away on August 21st, 2007, leaving her fifth book unfinished. After some dealings, Patrick Ness took up the mantle to complete Dowd’s work. As he states “She had the characters, a premise, and a beginning. What she didn’t have, unfortunately, was time”. Finishing up her work and accompanied with book illustrations from Jim Kay, Patrick Ness released A Monster Calls in 2011. Since its release, the book has received critical and literary acclaim from the general public as well as winning several awards. Now, years later, Patrick Ness, director J. A. Bayona, and Focus Features presents the cinematic representation of Ness and Dowd’s work in the new movie A Monster Calls. Does this movie find its emotional connection from its literary source material or does it fail to capture it altogether? Read more

Passengers Review

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CASTAWAYS IN SPACE


 

Director Morten Tyldum made waves in 2014 with his film The Imitation Game. Before he explored the life of Alan Turing, Tyldum, born and raised in Bergen, Norway, went to the School of Visual Arts in New York to study film. His directorial debut back was in 2003 with his film Buddy, which was then followed by Fallen Angels in 2008 and then Headhunters (a film based on a novel by Jo Nesbo), before making The Imitation Game, starring such stars as Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, and Mathew Goode. This film (a theatrical look into the life and times of Alan Turing) was met with critical praise, box success (making $ 219 million against its $ 14 million production budget), and was nominated at several awards shows that year, including being nominated in eight categories at the 87th Academy Awards. It won an Academy Award for “Best Adapted Screenplay”. Now, after the success of The Imitation Game, director Morten Tyldum, Sony Pictures (and Columbia Pictures), and Village Roadshow Pictures takes a shot into outer space in the new sci-fi drama film Passengers. Does Tyldum’s fifth feature film reach for the stars or does get lost in the vastness of space? Read more

Top Ten Worst Movies of 2016

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Hello, everyone! With the year of 2016 officially over, it’s time to exam the “best” and “worst” movies that of that year. Indeed, there was a lot of movie releases seeing in 2016. In total, I’ve personally seeing (and reviewed) over 110 (my new record) new movies that were released in the year of 2016, some were very recognizable, while others were “sleepers” that flew underneath the mainstream radar. There were also a lot of movies that made big money at the box office in 2016 as well as some that gained critical praise from both critics and moviegoers. And yet (in amidst those movies), 2016 saw a number of pretty “bad” films. Whether by a flat story, bad acting, weak writing, or poor execution, these movies were just plan horrible with little to no interest in purchasing a ticket to see it theaters or to buy / rent it for its home release a few months later. Read more

Assassin’s Creed Review

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NOT QUITE THE “LEAP OF FAITH”

 

Assassins, Templars, the Animus, Abstergo Industries, and the power of “free will”. Yes, I’m talking about Assassin’s Creed. Created by video game company Ubisoft, Assassin’s Creed first debuted back in 2007 on the major consoles at the time (PS3, Xbox 360, and PC), presenting the idea of structuring a video game narrative of two halves, placing one story in the present day (circa 2012) as the character of Desmond Miles and the other story in the past during the Third Crusade (1189-1192) as the character Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad (Desmond’s Assassin ancestor). The game praised for its narrative as well as its gameplay as players (as Altaïr) would be able to freely move around the backdrop setting of Crusades (Jerusalem, Acre, and Damascus) to complete objectives and find clues. Following the first game (named Assassin’s Creed), many other video games followed, chronicling the further adventures of the Assassins and the Templars throughout various time periods in history (i.e. New York 1758, the 18th century Caribbean, the 15th century Florence, etc.).  As the game’s progressed, the overarching story expanded and became more intricate in discovering the timeless battle to find the elusive “pieces of Eden” (powerful and ancient relics) from the two warring groups (The Assassins and the Templars. Now, Ubisoft, 20th Century Fox studios, and director Justin Kurzel, brings the video game world of Assassin’s Creed to the big screen in the movie that’s appropriately titled Assassin’s Creed. Does this video game to film adaption succeed where other have failed or does miss its mark entirely? Read more

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