Review: ‘Life’ 2017 (Alien plus Gravity equals Meh)

Remember how you felt at the end of that 2001 Tim Burton remake of Planet of the Apes starring Mark Wahlberg?

Onboard the International Space Station, a crew of six astronauts (Hiroyuki Sanada, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Olga Dihovichnaya, and Ariyon Bakare) have been tasked with the recovery and study of a Martian soil sample. Closer examination yields a curious find: a dormant single-cell organism. With containment procedures and established firewalls in places, the sample is awakened, nurtured, and begins to grow… proof of life beyond our own world. Unfortunately, when the subject of the experiment falls inexplicably dormant again, the sample — named Calvin by students on Earth below — decides it doesn’t like being prodded… or held captive by humans who too foolish to realize how intelligent, adaptable, and dangerous it can be in full-on survival mode.

All the hardware of our current space program plus a slightly futuristic yet real possibility: life from the stars. Is it a Martian or did it land there holding onto a meteorite? This concept could do for the search for extraterrestrial life what Contagion did for containment of an outbreak: a worthwhile look into how all the thought-out think-tank safety protocols would be used to preserve society as we know it. Unfortunately, the later trailers moved away from that suggestion and toward a CGI-enhanced bug hunt with all the trappings. Is the truth somewhere between these two ideas, or did the filmmakers always intend to go all-in with the sci-fi horror movie concept?
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Review: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ 2017 (less beast, more explanation)

While interesting to see many plot holes filled in, a few choices contribute far too little: the pitfalls of remaking a classic.

In a poor provincial French hamlet — a quiet village, some say — Belle (Emma Watson) and her father Maurice (Kevin Kline) endure the small-minded ideals of the local peasantry, none smaller than Gaston (Luke Evans) and his yes-man LeFou (Josh Gad). With plans to marry Belle — whether she likes it or not — Gaston is unknowingly thwarted by another would-be suitor: a savage Beast (Dan Stevens), the cursed lord of a forgotten castle in an enchanted woodland. Intent on saving her father at any cost and in little need of rescuing herself, Belle finds herself at the center of an adventure like she’s only read about… but can it truly have a storybook ending?

The House of Mouse has long since purchased the imagination of boys everywhere with its Star Wars and Marvel Entertainment acquisitions, but advances in movie-making technology now allow former girl-targeted Disney Princess films to be remade with live actors and lavish productions. As one of the very few traditionally animated productions ever nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, there’s a lot to live up to, but not everything that works in cell animation can hit the same high notes as a live production; choices must be made. Can Beauty and the Beast continue its tale as old as time into Disney’s live-action renaissance?
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Everyone’s A Critic: MST3K Takes On Death

Not yet ready for the silver screen. Thanks, guys!

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return
Starring: Felicia Day, Patton Oswalt, Jonah Ray
Genres: TV Shows, TV Comedies, TV Sci-Fi & Fantasy

The cult hit returns on Netflix! Captured by mad scientists, new host Jonah survives a blitz of cheesy B movies by riffing on them with his funny robot pals.

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Review: ‘Logan’ (Days of Future Present)

One of the best superhero films to date (that isn’t actually a superhero film).

Once called “The Wolverine,” Logan (Hugh Jackman) isn’t doing so well. The bullet holes that once healed instantly take effort, thugs he used to wallop without a thought take too much time, and even glasses are needed to read his mobile texts. Working as a chauffeur in Texas, Logan is saving up cash as fast as he can, but his biggest worry is over the mental state of his friend Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in his declining years. Keeping out of the public eye abruptly becomes impossible as a new complication enters Logan’s life: a young girl with a familiar attitude… and claws to match.

Since the 2000 X-Men movie that launched Hugh Jackman and his Wolverine into international cinematic stardom, the franchise has had its ups and downs. Hopes that Bryan Singer’s helming of X-Men: Apocalypse would continue the high note following X-Men: Days of Future Past were dashed with poor performance and poor reviews, never mind rumors that Jackman was looking to hang up his adamantium claws (it’s tough playing the tough). One thing did change, however: the success of Deadpool backed by a big mainstream studio touting an R-rating for a franchise flick. With the announcement that Jackman was playing Wolvie for the final time AND that it would be rated R, will Hugh’s final outing in the X-Men universe worth his claws?
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Review: ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ (now you’ve gone and done it)

Baba Yaga returns… and the only ones happy about it are sitting in the audience.

When last we left John Wick (Keanu Reeves), he came out of retirement to right a wrong… taking it up to the Gates of Hell itself. Foolishly hoping to slip back into quiet retirement again, an old acquaintance named Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) calls in a marker — something that isn’t refused. When John refuses anyway, Santino levels his house, but Continental hotel owner Winston (Ian McShane) reminds John one can neither violate the marker in revenge nor its holder until it has been cleared, or else his life is forfeit. Accepting the marker and the task to clear it, John departs to Italy to assassinate Santino’s sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini), a political move that will grant him power. Fulfilling the contract clears the marker… as well as the way for John to take revenge. Of course, he’ll still have to go through every assassin in the New York area to do it…

Survivors of the original John Wick film are joined by a few new faces (Common, Peter Stormare, and Laurence Fishburne to name a few), but for a one-shot underground action thriller that didn’t find its legs until after its theatrical run, where could it go from there? With a Bond-esque opening sequence tidying up loose ends from the previous film, the sequel is tasked to launch its title character on another adventure, find a way to make it personal, and expand the rich tapestry of their world of assassins. Moreover, will a new installment and bumped budget add to the story or undermine the original movie as too many unplanned sequels tend to do?
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Review: ‘John Wick’ (A Man of Focus)

Following his wife’s funeral and condolences from people no longer in his life, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) wants to grieve alone, but his future looks questionable. Hope arrives in the form of a delivered puppy, a thoughtful gift from his late wife knowing how hard her death would be for him. A chance encounter involving John’s prized classic 1969 Mustang leads to a home invasion, a stolen vehicle, and… worse. The thief (Alfie Allen) doesn’t know who John is, however, or what profession he’s retired from. No, John isn’t the Boogeyman — he’s who you send to have the Boogeyman killed.

This little gem slipped under the radar following the post-Matrix career of Keanu Reeves, the exception among a string of action-adventures that never quite seemed up to the same level of popularity. Reeves didn’t quit, however, nor did he slack off. The trailers didn’t appear particular compelling or in any way unique, never mind the rumors that film is secretly about Keanu “avenging his pet.” Is this truely something cool or just another attempt to cash in on The Matrix street cred? The answer gets a bit complicated…
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Review: ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ (Pew Pew Pew)

You deserve this today. Today, you deserve this.

Somewhere in LEGOLAND, Gotham City is under attack by a consortium of villains led by the Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker (Zach Galifianakis)… but Batman (Will Arnet) isn’t exactly committal over who his greatest enemy is. After looking cool defeating all the bad guys once again and a quick stop to dispense merchandise at an orphanage, Batman returns to his lonely Batcave to be all alone — except for Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) reminding him he doesn’t have to be alone; maybe adopting that orphan boy Robin (Michael Cera) would help. Anyway, during a retirement ceremony with Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) celebrating the retirement of her father, every supervillain in the city surrenders to the new commissioner… and Batman finds himself with no one to fight. Is it a trick? Of COURSE it’s a trick…

The incarnations of Batman have graced comics, television, and the silver screen since The Dark Knight’s creation. He’s gone from hamming it up my in the swinging 1960s to theatrical in 1990s and why-so-serious in the 2000s. With the lukewarm reception of “Batfleck” in When Batman Met Superman, it took The Lego Movie to return Batman to his former too-cool but too-serious-to-take-seriously persona. While a scene stealer in the previous ensemble Lego cast, can the “brick knight” successfully master-build his own movie?
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