Posts in MOVIE REVIEW
GUEST CRITIC #30: Crawl

As busy I get from time to time, I find that I can't see every movie under the sun, leaving my friends and colleagues to fill in the blanks for me.  As poetically as I think I wax about movies on this website as a wannabe critic, there are other experts out there.  Sometimes, it inspires me to see the movie too and get back to being my circle's go-to movie guy.  In a new review series, I'm opening my site to friend submissions for guest movie reviews. Today, meet fellow Feelin’ Film contributor Jeremy Calcara!

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Lion King

Jon Favreau’s The Lion King stands as the biggest test to all of that progress and the attached criticism because of how little beyond the pristinely pixelated exterior is actually “reimagined.” So incredibly and, dare I say, unnecessarily much is nearly a shot-for-shot duplication of Disney’s most popular and most successful film of their Renaissance era. To go back to Dumbo, duplicated enjoyment may have been the goal, but that makes one question a tangible purpose for truly needing any such update. Luckily, the shininess, so to speak, is an undeniably impressive redeeming feature to a lack of implemented originality.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: A Bad Feeling

Star Wars fans will quickly have their sensors triggered when they note the title of this short film from Charlotte Barrett and Sean Fallon. It is a nod to a running gag that is said as often in Star Wars films as the classic line “May the Force be with you.” The phrase alludes to a character’s audible dread and the heebie-jeebies warning of something awful, visible or invisible, on their horizon. The characters in those movie moments say it and mean it. In A Bad Feeling, the husband and wife central figures know their trouble, entirely feel it, but don’t announce their fears when they should.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Extra Innings

The expression “heart in the right place” is normally used as a smallish complement to counteract some obvious flaw or as a baseline pleasantry when something does not achieve its goal fully. Albert Dabah’s intensely personal independent film Extra Innings carries that expression with neither of those dismissive caveats. Its heart is indeed in the right place, with that position being right next to its soul. That soul is wearing cleats, a ball cap, a weathered glove, and a stirrup-ed uniform patrolling the grasses of center field on a baseball diamond on a sunny summer day.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Wild Rose

Tattooed on the right forearm of Jessie Buckley’s Rose-Lynn Harlan character from Tom Harper’s Wild Rose is the phrase “three chords and the truth.” It is an homage (and clear naming inspiration) to the quintessential description and motto of country music coined by 1950s era songwriter Harlan Howard. In spite of that mainstream majority, we’ve got a girl from Glasgow, Scotland behind bars with those historic words permanently etched into her skin. Foreign soil be damned, the honesty and harmony of hardscrabble is alive and well in Wild Rose. Shouts of anger and tirades of tears fuel the fights and the vocals churning from Jessie Buckley in what will stand as one of the finest performances of the year.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Yesterday

t takes quite a unique movie, dare I say even a special one, to take an absolutely preposterous concept and make it wholeheartedly joyful with extra whimsy. Know ahead that it is pure farce and fantasy, right there with something like Penny Marshall’s Big. Brush off the eye-rolling salt and you will find beaming smiles of sugar. That is the kind of serendipitous territory this movie zips through for the love letter of love letters to great music and the connecting pop culture we cherish.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Toy Story 4

For each movie or chapter at hand, one has to consider if there is a worthwhile story to tell, one that can justify this new effort being a true necessity.  The key word there is worthwhile.  To more specifically judge a sequel in that regard, one has to look where it came from and where it is going.  Toy Story 4 indeed attempts to advance characters and chooses trajectories, but then look backward and forward and ask about value and placement.  Despite the immense talent shining from the recording studio and the animation workshop, the traits and choices of Toy Story 4 lack being worthwhile.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Men in Black: International

One thing you cannot deny either Tessa Thompson or Chris Hemsworth is personal chemistry. Their magnetism and appeal are automatic, especially when combined together. We’ve seen Thor: Ragnarok and their work in other places. However, that’s not always enough. The material has to have chemistry too to allow the starry elements to combust. This tangential revival doesn’t have it. Tessa and Chris might glow like radium, but Men in Black: International is an inert gas, fleeting and faint.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Starfish

The opening credits of Starfish may drop the “based on a true story” prompt, but every moment of this twisty science fiction slow boiler feels like the filmed account of a racing mind. Rather than dwelling on footholds to societal norms, isolation reigns here, with all of the flutters, visions, shifts, daydreams, and nightmares possible. Dangling the mysteries of the fallout from an off-screen cataclysmic event, the mental maelstrom of Starfish is eerie, imaginative, and highly impactful.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Plus One

Here in June, our 2019 calendar has reached the peak of the annual wedding season. Some love it. Some hate it. Some are even participating. No matter where you sit, it’s a roller coaster for all ages. The traditions of nuptials and romantic comedies are keenly and boisterously observed and challenged by Plus One, the feature film debut of the writing and directing team of Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer that premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Every moment to cringe and every moment to cherish swirl together with very appealing zest. Plus One plays locally in the Chicagoland area exclusively at the AMC Barrington 24 location starting on June 14th.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: How Does It Start

In the provocative short film How Does it Start, a young teen girl in 1983 named Rain, played by Lola Wayne Villa, has been introduced to topic of sex without such positive elder counsel. The wheels have turned. The curiosities have sparked. The peers have stoked the fire. The triggers have all gone off and this girl wants the mystery of what has been made out to be so taboo and important to growing up as a real woman.

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REWIND REVIEW: Captain Marvel

Arriving on home media this week from Disney is their glowing smash hit Captain Marvel starring Academy Award winner Brie Larson and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.  The film itself is a forthright winner for introducing this powerful and important new character and the disc release gives us a little peek as to how it all came to be.  Keep an eye out on store shelves Tuesday, June 11th to pick up your copy in 4K, Blu-ray, or both. Here’s a quick advance look at what the home edition has to offer, just as long as you can wait through a quick period-accurate Windows 95 loading screening (nice touch).

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MOVIE REVIEW: Dark Phoenix

Whereas Days of Future Past was a face-lifting and jump-starting franchise savior, Dark Phoenix following X-Men: Apocalypse has become the moment of collapse. And it’s not solely because Fox was bought by Disney. Simon Kinberg and company have run out of juice to tell an interesting story sufficiently after multiple chances. When you watch this new movie and actually miss the gaudy theatrics of X-Men: The Last Stand because it at least tried, that’s a very surprising and telling thing.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Always Be My Maybe

Far rarer than they used to be twenty-plus years ago, easy and breezy flicks like Always Be My Maybe from Netflix remind us the traditional romantic comedy is alive and well. Best of all, the nostalgia present in today’s artists from growing up during that 1990s heyday are now making their own movies with their own lens. Smash hit stand-up comedienne Ali Wong and the ever-affable Randall Park of Fresh Off the Boat fame are clearly two of those people. Affectionately blending their own societal zest from their place in America’s Melting Pot, Wong and Park bring new voices as a genius comic pairing. Much of the method of Always Be My Maybe may be routine, but the resulting charm is unfailingly welcome.

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DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: The Biggest Little Farm

Sometimes the craziest ideas become the most fulfilling ones when they come to fruition. In 2010, wildlife cameraman John Chester and his private chef wife Molly decided to merge their interests and turn their lives upside-down. Combining his respect for nature with her excitement for food, the Chesters gave up city living in Los Angeles to move an hour north and start a true traditional farm that exists harmoniously with nature. In the hands of an artist and filmmaker, The Biggest Little Farm takes would look like a capricious and half-hearted whim fit for a green reality show on basic cable and turns the the documented endeavor something ambitious, important, and miraculous.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

After Gareth Edwards rebooted the legendary Japanese sea monster for a modern audience with a stern seriousness and hefty scope that destroyed all previous campiness connected to the character, this Michael Dougherty-helmed follow-up burns up all of that renewed credibility right away within the first half-hour on through to the exhausting end. Where’s the blame? That would be the humans because the behemoths really come out to play. Bad quippy comedy, nonsensical plot trappings, and unimportant character inclusions are the true weaknesses that defeat these monsters.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Aladdin

Disney and Sherlock Holmes series director Guy Ritchie aimed admirably with an “ambitious and non-traditional” take employing minority casting against whitewashing and colorism. Those skin-deep improvements are progressive, but who are we kidding? The color that mattered most was blue. All the desired diversity in the world paled to who could possibly follow the late Robin Williams? The Genie is the ticket to more than just wishes when it comes to this reboot’s success.

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MOVIE REVIEW: John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

War set to a rate-of-fire beat of melee lead and breaking bones is indeed what you’re getting with John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum. Springboarding from its increasing success, one could say the movie stylishly assaults your senses with its own creative focus, commitment, and will behind the camera to match the stoic Keanu Reeves protagonist in front if it. Swelling enough from its redundancies, this symphony of gunpowder and gumption will satiate your summer thrills just fine.

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