Posts in New Releases
REVIEW: 'Hellboy' traps its sturdy star in bad-movie purgatory

Hellboy himself is well-portrayed by David Harbour (Stranger Things), and there are some fun shout-outs to some of the more obscure characters and story threads from the comics. But that’s about all the good there is to say. The filmmakers are more concerned with grafting cringe-inducing scenes into an interpretation of the comic that might have had genuine promise in other hands.

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REVIEW: 'Shazam!' - DC has a hit

Yet, it’s Shazam! that’s the first DC film to really explore this idea of a family, of how there really is a home for everyone and going solo isn’t always so cool. A large portion of the (pretty good) subplot deals with Billy’s attempts to find his birth mother, but when he finally begins to forge a new relationship with his foster family, it’s incredibly uplifting.

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REVIEW: 'Triple Frontier' won't broaden your horizon

Triple Frontier, with its all-male cast of ex-special forces operatives who decide to rob a drug dealer's stash of cash, made you believe with its marketing that it was an action shoot 'em up with cliched one-liners about duty, honour and how their own society has rejected them as a bunch of marginal contributors. 

That's not this movie. 

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REVIEW: ‘Captain Marvel’ fulfills her duty - for better and worse

But like Wonder Woman and even Black Panther, it’s important to weigh the cultural role of the movie differently than its artistic role. Is Captain Marvel merely a series of boxes being checked, as if an H.R. rep were ensuring that everyone received equal consideration for the box-office domination job? Or is there more going on in this origin story?

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REVIEW: ‘Alita: Battle Angel’, a cyberpunk fantasy with a franchise on its mind

In a world where mortal injuries can often be fixed as easily as sticking a severed head onto a robotic body, the movie contemplates what it means to be human, especially in a society filled with people who might pull off your arm (or even your head) and exchange it for profit.

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REVIEW: ‘The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’ wades into woke-nomics

It’s also intriguing how the message of the new film hews so closely to another recent example of wokenomics, the Gillette ad “The Best Men Can Be”. The spot, which questions toxic prevailing ideas about masculinity, seems to share some thematic DNA with The Lego Movie 2. Our hero, Emmet (Chris Pratt), spends much of the story contending with a belief that he’s not grown-up or tough enough to be the “special best friend” (re: boyfriend) of the movie’s female lead, Lucy (Elizabeth Banks).

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REVIEW: ‘Cold Pursuit’ is a stranger mountain drive than you’d expect

What we get in the movie is not at all what was suggested by the early production reports or the marketing – instead, it’s a thoroughly odd experience, a tonal mix that didn’t quite work for me, but something that definitely sets itself apart from the dime-a-dozen thrillers Neeson has made consistently for the past 10 years.

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REVIEW: ‘Glass’ is blurred at first, but may sharpen with time

However, while parts of the movie don’t really work, Shyamalan’s ultimate goal is to make the audience doubt the truth of the characters’ abilities. In a climactic scene outside the facility, Shyamalan uses extreme wide shots, fish-eye close-ups, and clumsy staging to strip a fight between Dunn and The Horde of the thrilling, Marvel-style grandeur we might expect from the subject matter.

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REVIEW: ‘Aquaman’ is suitably silly, and better than it should be

But because Aquaman mostly steps around the broader story that occupied the previous film, it becomes more fun as a result. It’s an often ridiculous experience, but charmingly so. We get space-opera-style battles between undersea navies, kaiju-like monsters, and some fleeting examples of chemistry between the cast members.

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REVIEW: ‘The Mule’ delivers a strong return to acting for Clint Eastwood

The bafflement that the character’s family feels about his actions – first as an absentee father and then as a drug mule – will feel familiar to anyone with a family member with a penchant for frustrating behaviour. Stone wants to be a provider, but doesn’t fit into the traditional model for one, and he doesn’t understand why others don’t recognize what he’s trying to do.

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REVIEW: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ is a fearless, visually stunning triumph

And then there’s the visual treatment in Spider-Verse. It grabs you by the eyeballs and doesn’t let go for two hours, making me want a whole cinematic universe of Marvel movies in this style of animation. Other than perhaps Zack Snyder’s panel-for-panel recreation of Watchmen, it’s the rare film that gives you the true sensation of a moving comic book.

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REVIEW: 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald' is a cynical chore

The newest film from the Harry Potter universe - or the Wizarding World, as a title card helpfully identifies it – is a scattershot, info-dump of a film, a series of trailer-like scenes glued into a movie. It seems shrewdly designed to download random bits of wizarding mythology to its fans, stringing along plot revelations to compel viewers to see the next three planned sequels in a five-film series.

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REVIEW: ‘Widows’ proves heist films don’t have to get stuck in the past

The size and skill of Widows’ cast is enough to mesmerize on its own, but once you get a grasp of the various threads, it’s fascinating to watch how McQueen tightens each one in turn, until he can yank one and let the whole thing unspool.

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REVIEW: ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’ is good at setup, bad at follow-through

Goddard brings vestiges of this approach to his newest film, Bad Times at the El Royale. He even carries over the theme of the characters being constantly watched by unknown forces. But though Goddard captures some strong performances in the process, Bad Times doesn’t have the subversion, shocks or flat-out hilarity of the filmmaker’s previous film. Instead, we get an overlong exercise in brilliant setup, with no follow-through.

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[VIFF 2018] REVIEW: Lanthimos delivers on "The Favourite"

Of course, there’s the usual palace intrigue – secret things are done and said in darkly lit corners, and the usual extravagance of the rich, including a candlelit ball and a duck race, are all present – but it’s presented in such a Lanthimosian manner it’s equal parts funny and somewhat disturbing.

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