Samuel L. Jackson

Kong delivers without monkeying around.

This guy really needs to hold on tighter.

I’ll admit that I was more than skeptical when Kong: Skull Island was first announced. A new King Kong movie, really? Peter Jackson’s 2005 version still felt fresh in my mind, perhaps because it’s been playing on TV so often. But Kong: Skull Island was supposedly a different type of Kong movie. It was gonna be more modern, more action-oriented, and part of a larger monster movie series (see MonsterVerse). That all sounded nice and dandy but I wasn’t going to believe it until I saw it. Then, I saw it. I saw it in IMAX 3D. And whaddya know, it’s really good. Kong: Skull Island delivers just about everything you’d expect from its marketing campaign and PR promises. The action is exciting, the special effects are fantastic, the acting is non-distractingly serviceable, and there’s nothing else to it. As pure cinematic escapism, Kong: Skull Island reigns king. 

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Tarzan comes out swinging, but just barely misses.

He Tarzan.

He Tarzan.

Tarzan of the Apes, written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, first appeared in the pulp magazine All-Story Magazine in 1912. Since then, Tarzan has been the title character of numerous novels, TV series, film adaptations, and more. It’s an old and valuable property, hence the ® symbol noticeably visible on the opening title credit. Now there’s a new Tarzan feature film, not surprisingly called The Legend of Tarzan since at this juncture there’s enough in the Tarzan mythos to argue a “legend” has been well-established. Unfortunately, the new film can’t avoid the blatant traditional racial tropes that were overwhelmingly present in Burroughs’ creation — after all, Tarzan, the hero who frees slaves and shifts the political and cultural course of central Africa towards the greater good, is a white man. Racial issues aside, there are still some emotional and visual pitfalls that the exciting action and stunning vistas can’t make up for. What does work about The Legend of Tarzan, in addition to a better-than-expected script, is a testament to the solid direction of David Yates (who directed the final four Harry Potter films).

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The Hateful Great, This Ain’t.

HatefulSam

Samuel L Jackson in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight

 

Your typical Quentin Tarantino movie is full of scenes that are powder kegs ready to explode, full of characters you can’t trust, and smart, crackling dialogue that keeps you constantly entertained. But what if the dialog stopped being smart and crackling? You’d have The Hateful Eight.

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Captain America is in a post-Avengers world.

New suit.  New foe.  Same tude.

New suit. New foe. Same tude.

The surprise 2011 hit, Captain America: The First Avenger, succeeded because the iconic yet campy superhero received a modern injection of cinematic energy and solid storytelling.  The main reason for the Captain’s successful re-emergence into mainstream pop culture was the charisma and multi-generational appeal of actor Chris Evans.  Evans returns in his third stint as the star-spangled rescuer in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a film with another solid plot extracted from the Marvel universe, a fantastic grip on character arcs and relationships, and an epic sense of scale that, obviously, takes place in a post-Avengers universe.

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Film Review: Turbo

by Chad Liffmann on July 17, 2013

A cute, formulaic, one-joke movie…but at least it’s not sluggish!

He's going the distance!  He's going for speed!

He’s going the distance! He’s going for speed!

Low expectations commonly yield better-than-expected results.  In the case of Turbo, a charming result emerges from an incredibly lackluster premise.  ‘A snail that goes fast!‘…Okay, not really piquing my interest.  ‘And, he races in the Indy 500!’  Snails and racing?  No thank you, I’d rather read a book.  Turbo doesn’t break any new ground, nor is it distinctly memorable.  Its straightforward story is respectable, its characters are pleasant, and the colorful visuals are good.  Nearly every joke is about the ‘snails vs. speed’ theme at play, but luckily the movie never slows to a snail-like crawl.  But despite the film’s drawbacks, audiences will still be rewarded by Turbo, if only because it’s just not as bad as it seems.

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Film Review: Django Unchained

by Jason LeRoy on December 25, 2012

django-unchained-2

starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson

written and directed by: Quentin Tarantino

MPAA: Rated R for strong graphic violence throughout, a vicious fight, language and some nudity

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Film Review: “The Avengers”

May 3, 2012

starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow written by: Joss Whedon (story and screenplay), Zak Penn (story) directed by: Joss Whedon MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a […]

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