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Movie Review: Happy Death Day
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Happy Death Day review

Happy Death Day
Directed by Christopher Landon
Written by Scott Lobdell
Starring Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken, Laura Clifton, Rob Mello
Blumhouse Productions
Rated R | 96 Minutes
Release Date: October 13, 2017

If you’ve watched the trailer for Happy Death Day, then you know exactly what you are walking into. The writer and director make no effort to hide their influences, to the point of literally name-dropping Groundhog Day and Bill Murray IN the movie. One character’s last name is even credited as “Spengler” (Harold Ramis was Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters). That said, if you’re gonna walk the line between parody and homage, you better be careful and to their credit, writer Scott Lobdell and director Christopher Landon do a pretty great job. In order for this to work, like Groundhog Day, the lead character and actor playing them has to be convincing. While I’m not comparing Happy Death Day‘s Jessica Rothe to Bill Murray, she does do one hell of a job here and the results are a perfect little 95-minute meta-slasher film right in time for Halloween.

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Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049
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Blade Runner 2049 banner

Blade Runner 2049
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Screenwriter: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Rated R | 163 Minutes
Release Date: October 6, 2017

Blade Runner doesn’t have all the flashy substance that makes up what some would say is a traditional sci-fi film, but it sure does have all the nuances and subtleties that would make for a great sci-fi noir. Slow-burning detective stories still continue to unravel even in the distant future. You still have the stark monochromatic colors, a constant stream of pessimism, and a character that is drawn into the world of crime. You add a splash of sci-fi, that not only mixes well together, but proves that the elements can work in the right hands.

Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve‘s strikingly visual follow-up, takes place 30 years after Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. The filmmaker stays true to the themes explored by Scott’s adaptation of the Philip K. Dick book (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), while also building upon the mystery and intrigue, as well as adding even more themes that will have audiences talking, even well after the film has ended. Check out the full review below.

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Movie Review: Gerald’s Game
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Gerald's Game Netflix Carla Gugino Bruce Greenwood

Gerald’s Game
Based on the novel by Stephen King
Written by Jeff Howard and Mike Flanagan
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Starring Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Carel Struycken, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel
Netflix
Released date: September 29, 2017

The new film Gerald’s Game marks the fourth Stephen King adaptation of 2017. This summer’s The Dark Tower was universally panned and flopped at the box office, yet It, conversely, is currently breaking box office records. Mr. Mercedes is a television series on a new platform, AT&T’s Audience Network, while Gerald’s Game landed on Netflix right before Halloween season officially begins. King’s novel Gerald’s Game was published in May 1992 and remained one of the author’s lesser-known works until Netflix optioned it. Directed by Mike Flanagan, one of horror’s up and coming auteurs, who co-wrote the screenplay with collaborator Jeff Howard, the results are a tour-de-force of filmmaking and acting that needs to be watched, albeit from between the fingers of your hand covering your face.

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New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival 2017 – Movie Review: The Barn With Q&A
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The Barn New Jersey Horror Con Films

The Barn
Director: Justin M. Seaman
Screenwriter: Justin M. Seaman
Cast: Mitchell Musolino, Will Stout, Lexi Dripps, Cortland Woodard, Nikki Darling, Nickolaus Joshua, Linnea Quigley, Ari Lehman
Distributor: Nevermore Productions
Not Rated | 90 Minutes

I was super excited to finally get a chance to check out The Barn at the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival. Emanating from the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin, NJ, the convention spanned the weekend featuring celebrities, horror movie reunions, cosplays contests, and screenings of new and old horror films. The Barn debuted last year and played the one night I could not attend the New York City Horror Film Festival. I toured the floor at the NJ Horror Con and found their merchandise table, where writer/director Justin M. Seaman and Director of Photography Zane Hershberger were sitting. These guys know how to sell a film! With a poster that feels cut and pasted out of an 80s video store, they have DVDs, VHS tapes (!!!), stuffed dolls of the three lead villains, board games, hats… you name it. The only question that remained was, is the film good? Simply put, The Barn is a killer good time.

More below.

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Movie Review: The LEGO Ninjago Movie
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The LEGO Ninjago Movie trailer header

The LEGO Ninjago Movie
Director: Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan
Screenwriter: Bob Logan, Paul Fisher, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Cast: Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Fred Armisen, Abbi Jacobson, Olivia Munn, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Peña, Zach Woods, Jackie Chan
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Rated PG | 101 Minutes
Release Date: September 22, 2017

The LEGO Movie franchise has proven that if you build it, they will come. Coming off of two widely successful films, The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie, comes The LEGO Ninjago Movie – based off their Ninjago LEGO toyline. While the film is still set in the same LEGO world and has the same LEGO quirks – the self deprecating humor and pop culture nods – the film doesn’t pack the same punch as its predecessors. Which is ironic, because this is the most action-packed LEGO movie of them all. It’s filled with ninja action, mechs, and so much more. But a lackluster story that seems to be at odds with itself makes The LEGO Ninjago Movie the weakest of the three films. My full review below.

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Movie Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle
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Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Screenwriter: Gary Dauberman
Cast: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Sophie Cookson, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum, Pedro Pascal, Jeff Bridges
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Rated R | 141 Minutes
Release Date: September 22, 2017

When getting a sequel, you’d expect something on a larger scale, something more epic than its predecessor. And a lot of times, a sequel can deliver on just that. But then there are those times where it just falls short or just stays the course. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is pretty much the latter. The film, which prides itself in dressing in sharply tailored suits, adds nothing new to the franchise. It’s same shop, same tailor, same pocket square, same tie, just a different knot. But it tries to add new elements by introducing the Statesman – the American version of the Kingsman but with more Stars and Stripes aesthetics.

But with barely any stakes and an eccentric villain with a lack of originality, Kingsman: The Golden Circle doesn’t do much of anything but put on the same exact suit, but with a different color and a different tie knot. My full review below.

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Movie Review: Mother!
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mother! Header Image

Mother!
Written & Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer
Paramount Pictures
Release date: September 15, 2017

*** Note – no spoilers below for Mother!, but I also recommend that you DO NOT research the film or look it up on IMDb until after you see it. ***

With all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face, Darren Aronofsky brings you Mother! The film stars Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a married couple living and working out of a huge house in the middle of woods. He is a poet dealing with crippling writer’s block and she is working effortlessly to get the house in order. Soon they are visited by guests seemingly out of nowhere. A doctor arrives, followed by his wife and later their sons. Soon the whole house is full and while Bardem seems to revel in the attention and adulation, Lawrence grows quickly worried and fearful. And that’s pretty much all I can tell you about the plot of Mother! without spoiling anything. The plot is not what matters here. Instead, let me segue by telling you that about 100 minutes into this 2+ hour film, a man sitting way back in the theater threw a full soda at the screen, showering us as it flew by, before storming out with his female companion. Yep, Mother! is THAT kinda movie.

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Retro Movie Review: ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan’ Director’s Cut – Fathom Events
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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Director’s Cut
Available now on Blu-ray
Written by Jack B. Sowards (Uncredited: Nicholas Meyer)
Directed by Nicholas Meyer
Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Bibi Besch, Paul Winfield, Kirstie Alley, Ricardo Montalbán
Paramount Pictures
Original release date: June 4, 1982
Fathom Events screenings: September 10 & 13, 2017

In honor of the 35th anniversary of the theatrical release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Paramount Pictures and Fathom Events are bringing the Director’s Cut version of the film to theaters for two days only this month (9/10 & 9/13). I got the chance to see the film at my local theater at the Sunday afternoon screening, and even though I’ve seen this movie — which is one of my favorites of all time — countless times, getting to see it on the big screen again was elating.

The screenings all include a new interview with the film’s star William Shatner, who played the iconic role of James T. Kirk. In the interview, which begins about 15 minutes prior to the screening times (2pm and 7pm local time), the actor talked about making the sequel and how it reinvigorated the Star Trek franchise.

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Movie Review: Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story
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Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story banner

Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story
Directed and Produced by Jon Brewer
Documentary featuring David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Angie Bowie, Ian Hunter
Voiceover by David Bowie
Emperor Media Ltd
101 Minutes
Theatrical Release date: September 1, 2017 (Limited)
Blu-ray Release (via Mvd Visual): October 13, 2017

A new documentary on Mick Ronson, the late guitar player who was one of the key figures in the early success of David Bowie when he became a superstar in the early 1970s, has been recently released called Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story. The film, which includes voiceover by Bowie (who passed away in early 2016), attempts to give more of a spotlight to a man who in essence lived in Bowie’s shadow, something which unfortunately also happens here in this documentary, whether it was intentional or not in its presentment.

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Movie Review: Stephen King’s IT (2017)
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Stephen King's It Movie Header

Stephen King’s IT
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman
Starring Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Jackson Robert Scott
Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date: September 8, 2017

The first adaptation of Stephen King‘s novel It was a 1990 mini-series starring Tim Curry as the child-eating monster. The ambitious project from director Tommy Lee Wallace tried in vain to fit all 1,100 pages of King’s epic novel into two 2-hour blocks and the results were a mixed bag. The first half is nearly universally beloved thanks to some great child acting and Curry chewing the scenery and stealing nights of sleep as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. The second half focuses on the adults 27 years later returning to stop the evil again and it falters heavily from cheesy overacting and a universally “be-loathed” giant spider ending.

Coincidentally, it’s 27 year later, and Mama director Andy Muschietti took what worked back in 1990 and focused an entire film on it with Stephen King’s IT.

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