Tau Review

Tau
Directed by: Federico D’Alessandro
Written by: Noga Landau
Starring: Maika Monroe, Ed Skrein, Gary Oldman

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Oh look, it’s another original garbage pile from Netflix. Taking a concept that Alex Garland already proved can be made into truly alluring cinema, debutante director Federico D’Alessandro (previously a mainstay in the Marvel Studios Art Department), shows us how to turn what is essentially a three-character chamber piece into a quite irredeemably brainless exercise in futility. Tau plays like an unholy hybrid of Ex Machina, Electric Dreams and Beauty and the Beast that sits atop an inexplicably illogical setup that never straightens its course. It’s too bad considering that it stars the still very promising Maika Monroe, Ed Skrein (Francis from Deadpool, strangely miscast as a Bill Gates-esque computer genius) and Gary Oldman who voices Tau, an A.I. shaped like Gravity Falls‘ Bill Cipher, while attempting thoroughly to not sound like himself.

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Hereditary Review

Hereditary
Written and Directed by: Ari Aster
Starring: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Milly Shapiro, Alex Wolff

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Hereditary is, in fact, a horror movie. That alone shouldn’t be considered a spoiler since A24’s marketing material has been strongly trying to bring that point home to us, the ticket-buying audience, since the get-go. However, any astute moviegoer who has come across any of the myriad pieces lumping it together in the same breath with The VVitch and The Babadook might have approached the box office, if at all, with trepidation. And with just reason.

Like Robert Eggers’ The VVitch (which is, indeed, a horror offering) and Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook (which isn’t), Ari Aster’s feature writing-directing debut, is simply put, not a crowd pleaser. Which does not necessarily label it at once as pretentious (which, in my humble opinion, none of those three movies are) but it does address the fact that it uses genre with different purposes in mind.

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Cargo Review

Cargo
Directed by: Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke
Written by: Yolanda Ramke
Starring: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter

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Based on their homonymous 2013 short film, co-directors Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke’s Cargo firmly belongs to that mostly fastidious breed of a movie, the genre piece whose seemingly ashamed creators desperately try to elevate by turning it into a straight drama and, thus, into a legitimate piece of art.

They fail on both counts whether they actually put any effort whatsoever into trying to craft a satisfactory addition to the zombie subgenre or not; their film is utterly dismissable pulp and instantly forgettable character piece. This latter mainly because, among various reasons, there are hardly any characters to develop.

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Deadpool 2 Review

Deadpool 2
Directed by: David Leitch
Written by: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Ryan Reynolds (screenplay), Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza (comics)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, Morena Baccarin, Brianna Hildebrand, T.J. Miller, Julian Dennison, Karan Soni

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One of the most commonly heard complaints regarding the original Deadpool is that, like Kick-Ass six years prior, it promised to deliver a different kind of superhero movie but, by the end, it was simply another one in an ever-growing bunch. Kick-Ass, in fact, was something of a subpar entry in the subgenre even before our ordinary Joe protagonist was comfortably manning a jetpack and shooting missiles at bad guys. But the fact is Deadpool was never born out of a desire to deconstruct anything; it promised to offer simply another superhero movie and yet by the end it had delivered something so undeniably and satisfyingly different that it became the pop culture milestone it is now, like it or not.

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Anon Review

Anon
Written and Directed by: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Clive Owen, Amanda Seyfried, Afiya Bennett, Morgan Allen, Jeffrey Men, James Tam

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Ever since Gattaca, his debut film back in 1997, Andrew Niccol has time and again shown his ongoing interest in becoming a bona fide Futurist. Whether he is depicting genetic tampering that results in inevitable discrimination and segregation or a much more far-fetched society exclusively regulated by and revolving around time, his eye has kept tabs on invariably bleak dystopias that feel uncomfortably closer to becoming a reality than we’d like to acknowledge. Even his lighter-hearted approaches to sci-fi linger on a heavier and perennially pessimistic note: S1mOne revisits the genre’s de rigueur themes of dehumanization and loneliness and his instantly classic screenplay for The Truman Show (elevated further by Peter Weir’s astonishing directing and, as of today, still his most important contribution to the medium) funny and ultimately uplifting as it is, builds its foundations on a depressingly Orwellian premise. It is this latter tale that Anon, his latest release as writer, producer and director resembles the most.

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The Avengers: Infinity War Review

The Avengers: Infinity War
Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo
Written by: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Hiddleston, Peter Dinklage

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I’ll keep this brief for all of you who don’t really care all that much – or at all – for what is known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe: don’t bother. The Avengers: Infinity War offers the level of quality (cookie-cutter, as deemed by most of you) you have come to expect from this franchise and neither improves it nor drops the ball. For all of you who have not bothered to follow any of its previous installments, the warning comes emphasized: you’ll be watching two hours and twenty minutes of mostly CGI action that frames a thoroughly nonsensical plot filled to the brim with an inordinate amount of “characters” who are really not introduced or explained in any way whatsoever and who, hence, will mean nothing to you.

For all of you this review is over. You can stop reading. Until next time.

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Truth or Dare Review

Truth or Dare
Directed by: Jeff Wadlow
Written by: Jillian Jacobs, Michael Reisz, Christopher Roach, Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Sophia Ali, Nolan Gerard Funk, Landon Liboiron, Sam Lerner

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With the exception of some creative efforts from a few intelligent talents behind the camera, it is all but an inevitability that the opening of a mainstream movie will be filled to the brim with character introduction and exposition. If you’re four-leaf clover lucky, such trappings will be concise and even insightful. Likelier than not, though, you’ll be in for run-of-the-mill screenwriting that sleepwalks you from point A to point B. And if you are really out of luck, you’ll have to endure the opening fifteen minutes or so of Truth or Dare.

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Rampage Review

Rampage
Directed by: Brad Peyton
Written by: Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal, Adam Sztykiel
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello

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Rampage, the third and latest collaboration between Brad Peyton and Dwayne Johnson, is a popcorn, B-level, leave-your-brain-at-the-door movie. We know it and fortunately the movie itself seems to mostly know it as well which is the best possible scenario when it comes to stories about genetically-tampered wolves, gorillas and crocodiles that consequently become giant-sized, killing monsters. Mostly being the keyword.

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The Titan Review

The Titan
Directed by: Lennart Ruff
Written by Max Hurwitz (screenplay), Arash Amel (story)
Starring: Sam Worthington, Taylor Schilling, Tom Wilkinson, Agyness Deyn, Nathalie Emmanuel

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Nine years after Avatar introduced him to the world, Sam Worthington dons an armor of blue-tinted prosthetics and, once again, turns into an enhanced lifeform. No, the first of those James Cameron’s sequels hasn’t arrived early (it’s still two years away) but The Titan should quench that particular thirst if you are currently experiencing it.

Set thirty years in the future with the Earth on the brink of certain and complete annihilation, the story details how NATO-sanctioned scientists in conjunction with NASA come up with the wildly risky proposition of administering the DNA of certain specific animals to an elite selection of military personnel. The goal is to mutate them and make them superhuman, capable of tolerating the extremely uninhabitable weather and oxygen-lacking conditions of the only moon with a thick atmosphere in our solar system. You see, they want to morph these volunteers into Titans (as in the deities of Greek mythology) and send them off to colonize Titan (Saturn’s largest moon). Things go south, obviously.

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Game Over, Man! Review

Game Over, Man!
Directed by: Kyle Newacheck
Written by: Anders Holm (screenplay), Anders Holm, Kyle Newacheck, Adam Devine, Blake Anderson (story)
Starring: Adam Devine, Anders Holm, Blake Anderson, Daniel Stern, Neal McDonough, Rhona Mitra, Chloe Bridges, Andrew Bachelor

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When Game Over, Man!‘s credit sequence starts and Adam Devine, Anders Holm and Blake Anderson walk down the hallway of the hotel where they work as room-cleaning staff straight towards the camera in slow motion as New Level by A$AP Ferg (Feat. Future) blares on the soundtrack, you probably feel entitled to assume you already know the kind of movie you are about to watch. And that is almost the case, only worse.

This may be a Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg production (their first foray into Netflix’s new age of Content) but it becomes immediately apparent that it wants to move, talk and feel like a vintage Todd Phillips film (anything pre-Hangover, before he started filming demo reels to convince studios he can direct action blockbusters). Whether that’s good news or bad news is entirely up to you.

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Pacific Rim: Uprising Review

Pacific Rim: Uprising
Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight
Written by: Steven S. DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, T.S. Nowlin (screenplay), Travis Beacham (characters)
Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Tian Jing, Jin Zhang, Rinko Kikuchi

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When Pacific Rim opened almost five years ago the knee-jerk reaction from just about any moviegoer worth their salt was that we were being treated to nothing but a Transformers knock-off. There was also a dash of Godzilla thrown into the mix to at least try to set it apart and protect its future home video life… not that The Asylum’s Atlantic Rim wasn’t going to attempt to derail it, mind you.

However, general audiences’s lukewarm response notwithstanding, what Travis Beacham and Guillermo del Toro delivered with their original screenplay (if it can even be called original in the existing movie landscape) and the latter’s direction was their straightforward but lovingly reverential take on both Mecha and Kaiju. It became immediately apparent if you looked beyond the mere facade that with its exquisitely designed production, cleverly staged action sequences (marred only by the movie’s insistence on shooting almost all of them at night), Ramin Djawadi’s score, willing cast, and coherent, meaningful storytelling, the movie offered everything the Transformers franchise didn’t. That’s why Pacific Rim: Uprising is so disappointing: because it reinforces expectations most people may have had of the original. It is a bad movie.

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Tomb Raider Review

Tomb Raider
Directed by: Roar Uthaug
Written by: Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons (screenplay), Evan Daugherty and
Geneva Robertson-Dworet (story)
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas

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In movies, as in life, the game people play is one of expectations and, in the case of the latest entry in the Lara Croft franchise, expectations are bound to end up in disappointment. Disappointment for those expecting an effort in the same vein as Angelina Jolie’s original outings, for those at the other end of the spectrum who wanted an intellectually stimulating reinvention, and for those longing for nothing more than a standard studio tentpole. Norweigian director Roar Uthaug’s latest bona fide blockbuster-wannabe following his disaster epic Bolgen (The Wave) is none of those. Yet, these are the same exact reasons why those who have gone into theaters devoid of such baggage may find it unexpectedly, thankfully satisfying.

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