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Archive for 'Films'

A Divergent Hunger Maze Game: A Review of The 5th Wave

Special to Locus Online


I really didn’t enjoy watching The 5th Wave, though it is hard to explain why, for by any conventional evaluation, it qualifies as a well-crafted diversion, not unlike many successful films of the recent past. Perhaps the problem is that the film is artfully following an overly familiar, even an exhausted pattern…

“It’s Gravity Meets Night of the Living Dead!”:
A Review of 400 Days

Special to Locus Online


My title describes how one imagines writer-director Matt Osterman might have pitched the idea of 400 Days, in a stereotypically succinct fashion, to skeptical Hollywood executives. Like many pitches, no doubt, it is not entirely accurate, for there are few if any specific plot similarities between this film and the referenced classics. Yet the pitch would be broadly defensible, inasmuch as 400 Days begins like a realistic depiction of near-future astronauts and devolves into a standard-issue horror film.

Actually, the Force Is Sleepwalking: A Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Special to Locus Online


It would be virtually impossible to not enjoy a film that is so visibly striving to replicate all of the elements that made the original films so appealing…. The problem is that while one can praise to the stars the immense talent that went into the making of this film, it is hard to discern much creativity in either its design or its execution.

Rebels Without a Clue: A Review of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Special to Locus Online


In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2, one can definitely detect echoes of the points I have already extracted from the previous films — that young people today regard themselves as victims of adult mistreatment, yet they also want adults to solve all their problems, simply because young people are inherently and amazingly wonderful — but I will shift my attention to other, more novel, messages in this generally entertaining but occasionally disappointing film.

‘A Huge Moment for NASA’ … and Novelists: A Review of The Martian

Special to Locus Online


Ridley Scott’s The Martian is the best film I’ve seen in a long, long time, and it can be enthusiastically recommended as involving and uplifting entertainment. … Still, even while sincerely enjoying the film, I also felt a certain sense of ambivalence. For it was clearly and regularly trying to persuade me to believe something that is not true.

An Un-Amazing Story: A Review of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Special to Locus Online


The makers of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials have taken a reasonably inventive and innovative novel and transformed it into a less inventive and less innovative film. They might profitably recall that science fiction novels often become popular precisely because they are offering their audiences something different. It is not a comment that one can make about this science fiction film.

The Fifty Years Later Affair: A Review of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Special to Locus Online


While it is entertaining enough, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is not a film that anyone will want to watch a second time, and few people will leave the theatre yearning for another installment. Like attending a high school reunion, perhaps, revisiting the world of 1960s television is enjoyable as a rare diversion, but not as a regular activity.

Old Whiners in New Bodies: A Review of Self/less

Special to Locus Online


Self/less has several significant virtues: it is fast-paced and involving; it is unpredictable; it features excellent performances by an actor expected to provide them (Ben Kingsley) and an actor not expected to provide them (Ryan Reynolds); and its science-fictional premise, while not without questionable aspects, is developed with unusual care and consistency. However, director Tarsem Singh and screenwriters David Pastor and Alex Pastor were obliged to weaken their story by reducing a complex scenario to a simplistic morality tale and adding a modicum of gratuitous violence.

Our Dinosaurs, Ourselves: A Review of Jurassic World

Special to Locus Online


If you are wondering whether or not you should see Jurassic World, here is this reviewer’s advice: either pay the exorbitant price of admission to watch the film in a theatre, or never bother to watch it at all. When everything in the film is larger than life, none of its weaknesses matter, as you will consistently be enthralled and entertained by the amazing spectacle of realistic dinosaurs thundering across the screen and interacting with human characters.

Star-Crossed Horizon: A Review of Tomorrowland

Special to Locus Online


Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland is a film that one yearns to love, but not a film one can actually love …. One wishes to argue that that this film needs to be cherished and celebrated because of its resoundingly optimistic message about the future, driven home by an uplifting and emotionally powerful conclusion that constitutes by far the film’s best sequence; but sadly, the more one thinks about that message, the less resonant it seems.


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