Rampage

rampage

Video game film adaptations haven’t had the best track record.  They’ve been historically maligned by critics; some justly (Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is, in fact, that bad), others unjustly (Mortal Kombat remains a 90s camp classic).  Now we have Rampage, based on the classic giant monster arcade game, being marketed as “the best-reviewed video game movie of all time.”  But despite this dubious designation, Rampage can barely be called an adaptation.  It deviates from and adds so much to its narratively sparse source material that it’s essentially its own beast.  Continue reading

Black Panther

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The best movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and now, Black Panther) all have a few things in common.  For one, they’re essentially standalone, requiring nothing from their audience other than a willingness to have fun.  Their other shared element is the introduction of a new world to their viewers.  For Iron Man, that was the then-new and exciting MCU itself; Guardians of the Galaxy created a colorful, pulpy version of outer space; and now, Black Panther gives us Wakanda, a fictional African country that plays at third-world poverty but boasts a technologically advanced society hidden from all other nations. Continue reading

Brawl in Cell Block 99

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This essentially straight-to-digital movie, released back in October, slipped under my radar until very recently when I caught some online buzz about it.  A serious Vince Vaughn performance is always an intriguing prospect, so I decided to give it a go, expecting a gritty prison movie with (given the director’s previous movie) some hardcore violence.  I wasn’t wrong, but I didn’t expect it to be as damn good as it was. Continue reading

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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Those of you who read my best of 2015 list know that the original Kingsman was one of the year’s pleasant surprises, so naturally I was excited for the sequel.  Does it live up to the hype, or is it just another retread?  The answer is yes. Continue reading

Atomic Blonde: Not Quite a Dud, But Hardly Explosive

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Atomic Blonde is not an action movie.  I feel obligated to get this out of the way, as the movie has been the victim of a misleading-at-best marketing campaign.  Trailers featured Charlize Theron kicking ass front and center, suggesting a John Wick-like exercise in minimal story and maximum thrills.  But if anything, the movie’s plot-to-action ratio is story heavy. Continue reading