Posts in ADVANCE MOVIE REVIEW
MOVIE REVIEW: Blinded by the Light

Hell no, you don’t have to be a superfan of Springsteen to enjoy Blinded by the Light, but it sure helps. Even if The Boss is not your ideal vibe, the sprightly emotions on-screen cannot help but target and trigger your own matching passionate feelings for whatever you revere that answers the questions of Lesson #1. Following the affable and lovingly-composed musical worship recently achieved by Yesterday earlier this summer, welcome to your next toe-tapping crowd pleaser to close the summer of 2019.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Luce

The enigmas revealed by the spiraling escalation of manipulative confrontations are incredible in Luce. Through the masterful mystery of folding facades written by director Julius Onah and playwright/writer J.C. Lee of How to Get Away With Murder, there is a feverish anticipation of who’s going to turn, who’s going to crack, who’s going to fall, and who’s going to rise. The tension present is unpredictable and captivating.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Farewell

Even with this divisive indigenous practice happening to challenge the sensitivity of audiences, the universal human condition feels are extremely strong in one of the most entertaining and freeing film experiences of recent memory. The writer and director herself attests there is “not a wrong moment to laugh.” Lulu Wang is right. The catharsis, the grief, or both are intensely relatable. With that humorous dread and paralyzing poise, this distinct film carries poignant spirit. There is room in any season for an unexpected film to surround and heal one’s self in the difficult or awkward stakes of familial love and loss.

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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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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: 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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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: 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: Still Human

Those lines are a screenwriter’s dream of created sentiment. As doubtlessly as it could sting a nose on its directness, the moment squeezes tear ducts easily too. In this case, the sincerity is earned by Still Human’s meaningful journey and the dedicated performances of the leads. Director Oliver Siu Kuen Chan’s debut feature is the epitome of the genuinely genteel washing crassness away. The spirit-affirming foreign entry debuts locally in Chicago for a run at the Gene Siskel Film Center starting on May 13th.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Avengers: Endgame

Reeling in the wake of the perfect set-up of Avengers: Infinity War and answering every ounce of hype, Avengers: Endgame has accomplished following the moviemaking miracle of 2012’s first team-up film with another. All of the prodigious forethought and fortitude has paid off. Avengers: Endgame is not a pivot point, but a grand finale eleven years in the making. True to the blueprint, it is hard to imagine a more gratifying and rewarding summit.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Breakthrough

Too often nowadays in our headline-seeking and attention-starved society, that first definition of “miracle” is stretched and overused to the point of hyperbole, right there next to other words like “epic” and “masterpiece.” There are places where effectiveness has been lost. That second definition calling for divine intervention is a doozy. It calls for higher piety. Well, good believers love divine challenges and so does this Breakthrough starring Chrissy Metz.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Shazam!

Shazam! might be the new exemplar for the word “zany.” What is fantastical and ludicrous was just what was needed for this DC Comics material. Zachary Levi’s schtick of superpowered shenanigans becomes the epitome of both the adjective and the noun variations of that choice word. Zany is the bullseye of Shazam! and, boy, is that all kinds of satisfaction. Go get that satisfaction synonym list next.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Finding Steve McQueen

Finding Steve McQueen carries the boasting superlatives of the detailing the “largest bank heist in U.S. history” and, according to director Mark Steven Johnson, one of “the greatest stories never told.” Don’t expect a film of that kind of scope and size. This is a big crime orchestrated by small people who think they are bigger than they really are. The year is 1972 and the illegal act is the United California Bank Robbery.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

Matching the classic plastic building toys themselves, reinvention is as easy and frequent as the twist of one of their rainbow-hued blocks if one is prepared for it. Projecting that life’s simplicity through its dazzling style of presentation, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is another sparkling escapade of accepting and approachable entertainment.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Vice

With more dismissive scowls than joking winks, thinly veiled outrage outweighs the drink-clinking humor in Adam McKay’s film presenting a biography of one of the least favored men in American political history. Hazy in some moments, hasty in others, and always provocative, Vice is easily the most polarizing film of the year. The movie is not unlike Cheney’s own aim with a shotgun, hitting and missing plenty with occasional collateral damage.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Bumblebee

Plenty of loud-and-dumb still comes out of Bumblebee, but at least the pompous hubris and sophomoric fixations that fuel it are exchanged for those three missing elements of tone, character, and heart. The charming zeal of this revisionist prequel stands as the beacon signal to welcome back those who wrote this series off (including this very writer) years ago.

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