TheReelCritic.com


The Only Living Boy in New York – Movie Review   Recently updated !

  The Only Living Boy in New York   Rated: R Run Time: 1h 28min Genre: Drama 2 Frames out of 5 By: Shari K. Green   Directed by: Marc Webb Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Bosnan, Callum Turner, Kiersey Clemons and Cynthia Nixon   Directed by Marc Webb 500 Days of Summer) and […]


Logan Lucky – Movie Review

  Logan Lucky Directed By: Steven Soderbergh Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Seth MacFarlane, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterson, Dwight Yoakam, Farrah Mackenzie, Sebastian Stan, Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid, with Hilary Swank and introducing Daniel Craig as Joe Bang   Rated: PG-13 Run Time: 1h 59min Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama 3 1/2 Frames out […]


Dave Made A Maze – Movie Review   Recently updated !

  Dave Made a Maze Directed by: Bill Watterson Starring: Nick Thune, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, James Urbaniak, John Morrison, Kirsten Vangsness, Stephanie Allynne and Adam Busch   Run Time: 1h 20min Genre: Adventure, Comedy with a bit of Horror 4 Frames out of 5 By: Shari K. Green   This gets high marks for originality […]


Shot Caller – Movie Review   Recently updated !

  Shot Caller Written and Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh Starring: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Omari Hardwick, Lake Bell, Jon Bernthal, Emory Cohen, Jeffrey Donovan, Evan Jones, Benjamin Bratt, and Holt McCallany   Rated: R Run Time: 2h 1min Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller 3 Frames out of 5 By: Shari K. Green   Shot Caller is a […]


The Glass Castle – Movie Review   Recently updated !

  The Glass Castle Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton Starring: Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, Max Greenfield, Sarah Snook and Robin Bartlett   Rated: PG13 Run Time: 2h 7min Genre: Biography, Drama 4 Frames out of 5 By: Shari K. Green   The story The Glass Castle is from a memoir written by 80’s […]


At a time we need it the most, ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’ comes out TODAY!

  A decade after AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH brought climate change into the heart of popular culture, comes the riveting and rousing follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution. Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight traveling around the world training an army of climate champions and influencing international climate policy. Cameras follow […]


Dunkirk – Movie Review

    Dunkirk   Directed by: Christopher Nolan Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Harry Styles, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy   Rated: PG-13 Run Time: 1h 46min Genre: Action, Drama, History 5 Frames out of 5 By: Shari K. Green   I think that with Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan, writer/director of such […]


PROFESSOR MARSTON & THE WONDER WOMEN – Trailer

PROFESSOR MARSTON & THE WONDER WOMEN Directed by Angela Robinson Starring Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, Bella Heathcote, and Connie Britton. Release Date: October 27, 2017 Writer: Angela Robinson Producers: Amy Redford, Terry Leonard SYNOPSIS In a superhero origin tale unlike any other, the film is the incredible true story of what inspired Harvard psychologist Dr. […]


Only The Brave – Trailer

ONLY THE BRAVE   On Oct 20th, it’s not about what’s standing in front of you. It’s about who’s standing beside you. #OnlyTheBrave The heroic story of one unit of local firefighters (based on the True Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots) that through hope, determination, sacrifice, and the drive to protect families, communities, and our […]


The Snowman – Trailer

Michael Fassbender (X-Men series), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Independence Day: Resurgence), Val Kilmer (Heat) and Academy Award® winner J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) star in The Snowman, a terrifying thriller from director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), based on Jo Nesbø’s global bestseller. When an elite crime squad’s lead detective (Fassbender) investigates […]


Wish Upon -Movie Review

  Directed by: John R. Leonetti Starring: Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Ki Hong Lee, Mitchell Slaggert, Shannon Purser, Sydney Park, Alice Lee, Kevin Hanchard and Sherilyn Fenn Rating: PG-13 Runtime: 1h 30min Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Thriller 1 Frame out of 5 By: Shari K. Green   Wish Upon was not only predictable but sophomoric in […]


The Great Wall – Movie Review

 

Ever wonder why The Great Wall of China was built?  Well, wonder no more!  Matt Damon and director Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers) present to you the reason.  Well, they offer one of the legends, actually, and I’m pleased to announce, it’s entertaining at the very least.  The Tag Line for the movie is “1700 years to build.  5,500 miles long.  What were they trying to keep out?”  Okay.  I’m fascinated.  What do you have in store for us?

What they have is something that’s a visual sensation.  What they achieve is hard to look away from so make sure you’re not going to have to have a potty break.  There’s a large army, complete with drums, which has protected China from attack for centuries, known as “Nameless Order.”  They’re dressed brightly and vividly which is odd for battle but they’re pretty all the same.  Another ocular wonder is what they’re fighting to save China from; a vicious horde known as the Tao Tei.  They’re huge and have massive limbs and hungry mouths with sharp teeth… the better to eat their multi-hued prey.  The enormous army has used arrows, spears, “black powder” (gunpowder) and acrobatics to defend themselves for ages and then… along comes a couple of European mercenaries to show them how it’s done.  They are William (Damon) and Tovar (Pascal).  Even though helping fight mythical creatures wasn’t exactly what they had in mind, it’s what is now on their plate.  Why they’re there is they heard of this mysterious black powder and figure they can fetch themselves a few bucks if they get their hands on some.  Their plan has just “hit a wall”, so to speak.

When they get to the wall, they’re seen as outsiders, of course, and are jailed immediately.  Then comes the horde that the army wasn’t expecting so soon, and who can shoot better than anyone?!  Guess!  I’ll wait.  You got it!  William.  So, he helps and they’re now trusted to roam free and offer their sage wisdom on how to defeat the terrible brood.  There’s also a woman William notices and she, him.  She’s Commander Lin Mae (Jing) who might not fully trust William but likes what she sees.  This is a good thing because after they show their charges the black powder and its uses, they cannot let their secret escape the barriers.  As a matter of fact, a white man by the name of Ballard (Dafoe) wandered up to find out about the powder and that was twenty-five years ago.  Well, at least he learned a second language and now he has some pals who might help him escape.

The 3D during the battle scenes is spectacular; worth the ticket price if you’re interested in dodging spears being thrown at your face.  However, when there’s downtime, it sort of pulls you out of the story and instead reminds you that you’re watching people on a movie set.  You can visualize the green screen behind them.  For the most part, it was eye-catching and made the film come alive during the epic fight scenes when people were diving off the wall, twirling through the air on bungee cords before bouncing back and when balloons were being used to get to the city to warn them of a probable attack.  What made this work is that outside of a hint of romance, Ballard wanting to escape and a power struggle between Tovar and William, the movie was all action.  It calls itself an action, thriller and it is one.  It’s a little slow to start but once it gets going, you’ll enjoy yourself for its beauty and style.  My guess is if you’re enthusiastic about anime and have a good time holding a controller in front of a screen, you’ll especially relish in the performance of Tian Jing who runs around looking like a character straight out of a Japanese line of games and toys.  If this sounds like you, check it out at a theatre but I’d make it to the matinee.  But be mindful of the fact that The Great Wall isn’t going to be great for all audiences.  It’ll be most admired by the younger generation so, mom and dad, drop off the kids and maybe run into something else… this one just might not be for you.


Fist Fight – Movie Review

 

Directed by: Richie Keen

Starring: Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Dean Norris, Christina Hendricks, Dennis Haysbert and Kumail Nanjiani

Rated: R

Run Time: 1H 31min

Genre: Comedy

2 Frames out of 5

By: Shari K. Green

On the last day of the school year, all hell is breaking loose on school grounds.  Students, especially those in the senior class, are playing pranks on all the members of the staff.  They’re hiding things from their teachers, gluing items to their desks and getting down and dirty in an attempt to no doubt make their final high school day memorable… and possibly one-up the class that came before them.  They’re especially cruel to Principal Tyler, Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris, even going so far as to disassembling his car and putting it back together again inside the school.  There’s a lot going on in the background so don’t forget to pay close attention to what these wild youngsters have committed themselves to doing.  Director Richie Keen, (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) spent the time looking up ways to make this realistic by researching pranks done by real students in the past.  You’ll appreciate this attention to detail.

If you’re a fan of silly comedies, a fan of Charlie Day especially, you’ll want to check this out.  He does an exceptional job portraying the kind and fair English teacher, Andy Campbell.  When he rats on another teacher who loses his cool during class, Ron Strickland (Ice Cube), he is challenged to a fist fight and is now a man on the edge of a meltdown.  This is a comedy, right?  Well, the anger that comes from Strickland is so intense that you end up more or less feeling extremely sorry for Campbell which makes it hard to laugh to a large degree.  Some may think this doesn’t work well for a comedy.  Also, as far as character development goes, we never see any redeeming qualities coming from Strickland which may have helped you not dislike his character so much but unfortunately, as hard as you dig to find out where this anger is coming from, there’s simply nothing there.

Most eggs in Keen’s comedy basket relied on Day’s comedic abilities to hatch, both in a physical sense and how he conducts himself when he’s under pressure.  His strained voice is always worth a chuckle and it’s a blast observing him try to save his butt.  It’s also heartbreaking watching him; knowing the reason why the poor thing is running all over the place.  He goes to teacher after teacher and even calls 911, looking for a helping hand.  Some teachers he approaches are comedy gold.  Allow me to first mention one character that shouldn’t have existed at all and that’s Christina Hendricks’, Ms. Monet.  She comes out of nowhere and should have stayed there.  She really only served one purpose and not very well at that.  Keen did bring on Tracy Morgan (30 Rock) to be the stereotypical, simpleminded coach whose work here you’ll dig.  He also cast the witty Jillian Bell (Brides Maids) as Holly, the guidance counselor who can’t wait until certain students she’s been ogling from afar become legal and Kumail Nanjiani as a security guard who’s afraid of his own shadow.  These faculty members may have special talents in their own right but are of no use when it comes to advising someone on how to take a butt-whoopin’ or especially how to avoid it from happening.  Campbell must solve this mystery on his own.

A charming piece of the story is by way of the lesson Campbell learns.  I’m not speaking only of Andy but also of his daughter Ally (Alexa Nisenson).  In the same way that he is dealing with a bully at work, we are introduced to this character who is discovering life to be miserable at her own school.  When she finds the willpower to face her demons, by using a mic and the song I Don’t Give a F*ck by Big Sean, in a way you won’t soon forget, the movie finds the reason to be and is far better for it.  When Campbell finally musters the strength to confront Strickland, Keen presents a fist fight that will allow you to forgive most of the jokes you saw coming and some of the unnecessary gags that didn’t work.  When you see this, you’ll have fun picking out the obvious nods to films Keen must have liked, as well as his use of certain shots from them you may recognize.  All of this notwithstanding I can’t promote you pay to see this opening weekend at the theatre unless you make it a matinee.  Ultimately, the film has a good message regarding Campbells’ predicament.  He was always walked on and treated as though his opinion didn’t matter but standing up to this challenge makes him a better man and, at long last, a better teacher.

Subsequently, whether he wins the fight or he loses doesn’t matter… it’s all about the journey that he takes.  By the way, stay for the outtakes at the end.


A Cure For Wellness

Director: Gore Verbinski

Starring:  Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth and Harry Groener

Rated: R

Run Time: 2h 26mins

Genre: Suspense, Thriller

3 1/2 Frames out of 5

By Shari K. Green

This movie is abnormally intriguing.  It has a lot going on, much more than what is playing out visually.  If you put some time into the movie mentally, after the flicker is done dancing on the screen, the examination will be well worth it.  Your first impression will depend on what sort of audience member you are.  If you assess your films by what you immediately see on the surface, you’ll see this cryptic yarn as a promised thriller that doesn’t quite get you where you were hoping it would.  It provides the creepy elements that one would expect to see but doesn’t follow through with its promise to be a good intense, if I may, grabber.

The term psychological thriller does apply, however, and in the style of something you’d see straight from a legendary 70’s film.  A list to compare its vibe to could be Chinatown, The Conversation, Play Misty for Me and Magic; all superbly shot, well thought out and their impact on cinema… ever lasting.

In A Cure for Wellness, Gore Verbinski, who helped write the story with screenwriter Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road, The Clearing) digs deep into the essential nature of a person to live, care, love and to aid.  His protagonist, Lockhart (DeHaan), is sent by the financial institution he works for to bring back the CEO, Pembroke (Groener) who is nestled in the Swiss Alps at a mysterious wellness center.  He goes to retrieve Pembroke, knowing full well that the true desire of the board members is to pin its problems on him and use him as a fall guy.  On his way to the center, which uses hydrotherapy from an aquifer with unique purities, he learns of the center’s history and of the castle its inside.  As he speaks to the chauffeur who is taking him to the castle, they’re in an accident and Lockhart ends up a patient himself, waking three days after a crash that had sent the car tumbling.  Continually being urged to drink the water to better heal his broken leg, he finally grabs some crutches and wanders around the place, not only looking for Pembroke but looking around this odd establishment.  From what he recalls the chauffeur saying, his suddenly odd and dark dreams and the behavior of the people around him he begins to feel more like an inmate in an insane asylum than as a willing patient.

When Lockhart meets someone by the name of Hannah (Goth), a special patient who has been there all her life, the story of the institution unravels more and more and Lockhart’s questions get larger and larger.  Becoming suspicious that all is not well and obsessed with finding out more he suggests it’s bad for business for people to get well.  This does not go well with Volmer (Isaacs) who insists Lockhart needs to be submerged in water and the toxins in his body be removed.  This is a macabre scene as memories of Lockhart’s childhood and eels, yes eels, assault him.

So, my final take is there are a few disturbing scenes that play out and some I may never purge but for crazy good, alluring cinema, see A Cure for Wellness.  It may not be Oscar worthy, but cinematographer Bojan Bazelli (King of New York, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Ring), couldn’t have shot this film more methodically and used his lens more perfectly to concentrate on the beauty of the set and the locations and also to create the feeling of anxiety and stress.  It’s a masterpiece cinematically.  What might have otherwise been seen as a clichéd tale by the end is made infinitely more interesting by camera angles, shots sizes and expressions he creates as well as the overall tone he designs.  Again, by the time you finish watching it, you could be somewhat disappointed but don’t be.  Yes, Verbinski could have decided on an ending before two hours had expired but enjoy the fact that there is a much deeper theme going on than first thought and you’ll get there, too.  You’ll contemplate whether this person is alive, is this a dream, it that person in a coma?  Decide for yourself and let me know what YOU thought!