Author: Diego Crespo

Bears

Overview: A heartwarming yet unflinching look into the life of the Alaskan grizzly bears. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; 2014; Rated G; 86 Minutes Bare-Bear Necessities: Bears follows the trend of other Disney nature documentaries by being family-friendly, educational, and beautifully shot. That being said, it doesn’t really raise the bar for future films from this production company. What Bears does, it does well. Most of its praise is earned by its bold camerawork. I had to check after the showing to make sure no people were harmed in the making of this documentary (n0 casualties, thankfully).  From scenes...

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The Lego Movie

Overview: A generic Lego discovers he is the chosen one. Warner Bros. Pictures; 2014; Rated PG; 100 minutes. Everything is Awesome: Emmett is an ordinary Lego guy. He wakes up every morning to pay for over-priced coffee. He says hello to everyone on the way to work. He follows instructions to the letter. He’s so ordinary that hardly anyone notices him. When Emmett discovers the Piece of Resistance, he also realizes that he might be destined for a greater path. It’s a seemingly generic setup that continuously subverts expectations with plenty of humor and a look at what makes...

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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Overview: Michael Bay finally did it. He finally made a movie worse than Pearl Harbor. Paramount Pictures 2009; Rated PG-13; 149 minutes. Not Mindless. Brain-Dead: Every once in a while a movie comes along that is so frustratingly bad that you honestly can’t believe a human being allowed it to be made. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is that movie. I quite enjoyed the first Transformers movie. It wasn’t high-quality entertainment by any means but there was a sense of fun to it all. The first Transformers is decent blockbuster fare worth a trip to the movies. Revenge of...

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X2: X-Men United

Overview: The X-Men must unite with Magneto to stop Colonel Stryker from committing mutant genocide. 20th Century Fox; Rated PG-13; 134 minutes. The Building Blocks: Bryan Singer builds off his first entry in the franchise with a natural progression of story. Magneto tried to turn humans into mutants – which would also make them melt and turn into weird jellyfish things – so mutants are deemed more dangerous than ever. Add an assassination attempt on the President’s life and you have political pressure reaching levels of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Wolverine still remains the most interesting of the X-Men...

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X-Men: First Class

Overview: X-Men: First Class is a sleek superhero epic that proves there’s still life in a decade old franchise. 20th Century Fox; 2011; Rated PG-13; 132 Minutes. First Class Filmmaking: The best superhero movies have deeper thematic elements within the wonder of watching larger than life characters. The two previous entries in the X-Men film franchise suffered from focusing on spectacle rather than exploring themes of persecution, diversity, and subculture. Director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) remembers to keep these ideas present in every frame, but never loses the sense of fun in these characters. A Hint of Bond: Bryan Singer’s X-Men...

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Hot Fuzz

Overview: Cornetto Day continues with Edgar Wright’s second installment of the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy, Hot Fuzz. Universal Pictures; 2007; Rated R; 121 minutes. Blood and Ice Cream: After the release of an undisputed comedic masterpiece, the world eagerly awaited what Edgar Wright would use to solidify his status as the best comedy director working today. Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy are all standalone films; however, there is a thematic line of growth. Shaun of the Dead is about a boy – in a man’s body – becoming a man. Hot Fuzz is about that man who learns to...

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Only God Forgives

Overview: After his psychotic brother is killed, Julian is forced by his mother to hunt down the man responsible only to suffer the wrath of a cop who loves karaoke. It’s weirder than it sounds. Radius-TWC 2013; Rated R; 90 minutes. To Drive, Or Not To Drive: This is not a sequel to Drive. This is not a spiritual successor to Drive. Many (including me) went to see Only God Forgives under the false pretense that this would be another euphoric experience with what is essentially a minimalist, twisted, superhero origin story. Nicholas Winding Refn isn’t a director who...

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Boogie Nights

Overview: A high school dropout enters the infamous world of pornography. New Line Cinema; 1997; Rated R; 155 minutes. The Glamorous Façade: Sex, drugs, and parties permeate the screen in Paul Thomas Anderson’s  Boogie Nights. The camera remains in constant motion, long shots establish the extent of this party oriented lifestyle. Neon-lights cover the screen to give us a sense of flash and excitement.  Like the characters we are drawn in, enthralled by the porn business. Mark Wahlberg’s Dirk Diggler is a rising star with ideas that will change the porn industry. Diggler is only his porn nickname, but once he adopts...

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Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Overview: The Star Wars prequel trilogy finally comes to an end. Thank god. 20th Century Fox; 2005; Rated PG-13; 140 Minutes Let’s Get This Over With: The Star Wars prequels have a bad reputation for failing at recapturing the adventure and heart for which the original trilogy was known. There is an abundance of characters but none of them are particularly memorable, well, at least not for positive reasons (Jar Jar Binks, anyone?). There’s no sense of adventure, only an excess of CGI, horrendous dialogue, and boringly simplistic visuals. It’s all one hell of a mess. I’m lucky enough to talk about it. Stilted Bores: There are plenty...

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Captain America: The First Avenger

Overview: Captain America: The First Avenger follows Steve Rogers adventures from scrawny Brooklyn kid to the world’s first superhero. Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures; 2011; Rated PG-13; 124 minutes. The Joe Johnston Factor: Steve Rogers joins the roster of ridiculously likable Marvel lead characters thanks to Joe Johnston’s direction and actor Chris Evans’ humble performance. The story of Captain America is relatively simple: Steve Rogers  is the stereotypical ninety-eight pound weakly turned into a super-soldier by the United States military.  And he must stop a madman from destroying the world. Johnston’s movies have never involved the most original stories, but they...

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Aliens

Overview: Ellen Ripley gets to say “I told you so” when her employers lose contact with a colony on LV-426. 20th Century Fox; 1986; Rated R; 137 minutes. A Different Beast: If there’s ever another sequel like Aliens, I will figuratively eat my own shoe. That’s not to say there won’t be another sequel that feels radically different from its predecessor, but Aliens lands in an entirely different genre from its original chapter. Alien was a beautiful combination of horror and science fiction. Aliens is a three-way marriage between action, science fiction, with some horror elements sprinkled in to...

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Batman and Robin

Overview:  Batman, Robin, and Batgirl fight Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy to sell toys. You all know how bad this movie is. Warner Bros.; 1997; Rated PG-13; 125 minutes Let’s Get This Over With: Since its release in 1997, Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin has been embedded into the public and geek consciousness as one of the worst movies in cinematic history. Justifiably so. I remember watching this movie for the first time: My brain checked out with the close up of butts in the opening minutes of the movie, followed by Chris O’Donnell’s Robin saying “I want a car....

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Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Overview: The Lord of the Rings trilogy comes to an emotionally gratifying conclusion. New Line Cinema; 2003; Rated PG-13; 201 minutes. The End of All Things: The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the great cinematic accomplishments. As a collective society, I’m not sure we deserve movies this good. But given the state of the world we live in, we need them. The series takes some heavy flack for extended run time and the presumption that the film revolves around people walking with no greater purpose. You can strip down any movie to a simple action the characters...

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Spider-Man 2

Overview: Peter Parker must choose between having a normal life and being Spider-Man in this superior sequel. Columbia Pictures; 2004; Rated PG-13; 127 Minutes Past, Present, Future Spider-Man: Spider-Man 2 wisely starts off with opening credits that recap the original movie. A lesser movie would have suffered the burden of awkward expositional dialogue. Peter Parker is now struggling to balance his normal life with the extraneous crime fighting. It’s not working out well. Whether it’s his friends, teachers, or bosses, Peter is disappointing everyone around him. This is where the character of Spider-Man is at his best. When Peter...

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The Amazing Spider-Man

Overview: The Amazing Spider-Man is a decent reboot that took itself (and its title) too seriously. Columbia Pictures; 2012; Rated PG-13; 136 Minutes. The Average Spider-Man: Retreading an origin story seems unnecessary for such a popular character. Is there anybody who doesn’t know how Peter Parker became Spider-Man? The problem isn’t that the plot beats are similar. The second manifestation just adds nothing new to the story. Pivotal moments in Spider-Man’s origin feel more like a checklist of events rather than fleshed out character moments. There’s also an attempt to introduce a dark and gritty feel to the Spider-Man universe.  But...

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