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Friday, April 12, 2024



In a dystopian future America, a team of military-embedded journalists races against time to reach Washington, D.C., before rebel factions descend upon the White House.

Director: Alex Garland

Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Cailee Spaeny, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Nick Offerman

Release Date: April 12, 2024

Genre: Action, Thriller

Rated R for strong violent content, bloody/disturbing images, and language throughout

Runtime: 1h 49m


Alex Garland's Civil War is replete with stark visuals of a country tearing itself apart at the seams and strong performances from its cast but it’s surprisingly timid about engaging in its central idea.  Garland creates a series of tense and unsettling dystopian vignettes that are visually impactful and visceral echoing moments from the back half of Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket.  The script drops hints here and there about what led to the current situation our characters exist in but it’s frustratingly vague on causes or even details on how any of the warring factions function.  It ultimately leaves the entire story a rather toothless tour of speculative terror as nearly every character they encounter is little more than nebulous ciphers with little in the way of characterization.  The central characters are equally one note but the cast is strong enough to make it easy to overlook the scripts fallings.  Kirsten Dunst is solid as the world weary photojournalist who gains a protégé in the form of fresh faced Cailee Spaeny who looks even younger here than she did in last year's Priscilla.  Dunst nails the thousand-yard stare her character carries throughout as she does her best to provide tangible depth to the role that's missing from the script.  Spaeny, likewise, does the best she can with her underwritten role and her interactions with Dunst carry an air of authenticity in spite of how clichéd they are.  Wagner Moura is given more latitude to have fun as a thrill seeking journalist who's paired with Dunst's character for some undisclosed reason since the film never bothers to explain their connection.  Stephen McKinley Henderson serves as the elder of the group and he does fine work in a role he could probably play in his sleep.  Together they manage to elevate the material they're given it leaves you wondering why Garland didn't create something closer to Oliver Stone's Salvador if he wasn't going to thoughtfully engage in the film's central idea.  Civil War ultimately lacks the resonance to deliver the sort of gut punch it aspires to achieve.


Monday, April 8, 2024



A young man ekes out a meager living in an underground fight club where, night after night, wearing a gorilla mask, he's beaten bloody by more popular fighters for cash. After years of suppressed rage, he discovers a way to infiltrate the enclave of the city's sinister elite. As his childhood trauma boils over, his mysteriously scarred hands unleash an explosive campaign of retribution to settle the score with the men who took everything from him.

Director: Dev Patel

Cast: Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Sobhita Dhulipala, Sikandar Kher, Vipin Sharma, Ashwini Kalsekar, Adithi Kalkunte, Makarand Deshpande

Release Date: April 5, 2024 

Genre: Action, Thriller

Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, rape, language throughout, sexual content/nudity and drug use.

Runtime: 1h 53m


Dev Patel's directorial debut, Monkey Man, has a kinetic energy that propels the blood soaked, revenge thriller through some of its more uneven sections while managing to leave a lasting impression.  On its surface, it'd be easy to categorize this as little more than a John Wick knockoff but clearly Patel has much more on his mind than mindless mayhem.  The action here is much more brutal and less cartoonish than Wick's gunplay heavy style which gives the sequences a certain level of grimy authenticity.  The action is hard hitting and chaotic, occasionally to a fault, as Patel tries to put you right in the middle of the action.  Some set pieces work better than others, but you get a definite sense that Patel feels more comfortable directing these portions of the film.  The quieter moments prove to be a bit more of a mix bag as it grinds the film to a halt which makes the whole thing an uneven flow, making it feel longer than its actual runtime.  Dev Patel is committed throughout in front of the camera as his character is believably focused on his revenge journey.  He brings a lot more depth and nuance to the character thanks to his talent as an actor which allows him to overcome some of the script's underwhelming characterizations.  The supporting cast doesn't get much more to work with as many of the characters are one dimensional type instead of fully realized people.  Pitobash and Sharlto Copley in particular seem to be begging for meatier roles as they chew up scenery in their limited screen times.  Issues aside, there's plenty to appreciate about Monkey Man's approach and overall style showcasing Patel's talent in front of and behind the camera


Friday, April 5, 2024



A woman starts to question her own faith when she uncovers a terrifying conspiracy to bring about the birth of evil incarnate in Rome.

Director: Arkasha Stevenson

Cast: Nell Tiger Free, Tawfeek Barhom, Sônia Braga, Ralph Ineson, Bill Nighy, Maria Caballero, Nicole Sorace

Release Date: April 5, 2024 

Genre: Horror

Rated R for violent content, grisly/disturbing images, and brief graphic nudity.

Runtime: 2h 


The First Omen is a surprisingly well constructed religious horror throwback that delivers plenty in the way of atmosphere and shocks.  Arkasha Stevenson shows an impressive confidence behind the camera in her big screen debut as she delivers a series of wonderfully crafted visuals which leave an impression.  Additionally, she's able to capture the style and pace of 70s era horror films with an emphasis placed on characters faces during conversations which allows the actors to really shine.  Stevenson draws inspiration from a variety of places initially using Richard Donner's idyllic filter from the originally before leaning more into Polanski's more hallucinatory approach from Rosemary's Baby which fits the story well while also managing to include a sequence that's sure to make fans of 1981 Possession smile.  Of course, it’s all deadly serious from start to finish in this slow burn which thankfully avoids an over reliance on cheap jump scares while keeping the focus solely on the central character and story.  Its a methodical approach that's very similar to those old school horror films so those looking for something faster might be disappointed.  It’s a measured approach that lets its cast do the heavy lifting lead by a strong turn from Nell Tiger Free.  She brings a believable naivety to the role that slowly unravels as the mystery unfolds.  Free manages to keep it all ground even as the story takes some convoluted turns in order to get to its predetermined destination.  Her supporting cast boast some familiar faces Bill Nighy, Ralph Ineson, Sônia Braga and Charles Dance who all bring an air of gravitas to fairly one dimensional characters.  Maria Caballero and Nicole Sorace manage to leave an impression in limited roles as a fellow nun and orphan respectively with the latter begging for more screen time.  The First Omen proves to be one of the more pleasant surprises from a resurrected franchise showing that it's possible to deliver a quality product in the right hands.


Friday, March 29, 2024



Godzilla and the almighty Kong face a colossal threat hidden deep within the planet, challenging their very existence and the survival of the human race.

Director: Adam Wingard

Cast: Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Dan Stevens, Kaylee Hottle, Alex Ferns, Fala Chen

Release Date: March 29, 2024

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Rated PG-13 for creature violence and action.

Runtime: 1h 54m


Adam Wingard's Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire brings a massive amount of kaiju action to the big screen in a big dumb, popcorn film that keeps the focus on the central monsters.  Those looking for any sort of deep story from the human side of the film will likely be disappointed with them serving as little more than afterthoughts primarily used for exposition dumps.  Rebecca Hall, returning from the previous entry, does what she can with her paper thin character.  Hall, to her credit, doesn't phone it in as she clearly enjoying herself throughout regardless of how ridiculous the dialogue or action is while also managing to squeezing out every bit of emotional connection possible with Kaylee Hottle.  Brian Tyree Henry also returns as the chatter box conspiracy podcaster taking care of most of the comic relief along with Dan Stevens.  Stevens brings his charismatic energy from the moment he pops up on screen, chewing up scenery with impressive enthusiasm.  Of course this is all secondary to the monster mayhem Wingard unleashes onscreen as he creates his version of 1968's Destroy All Monsters battle royal.  He delivers a series of expansive and inventive battles for the titan's conflict with a weightless kaiju battle in the film's final act leaving an impression.  This entry is focused more on Kong's side of the story as he searches for a community after his extended isolation.  He's joined by an adopted mini Kong for large spurts of the film and they manage to create a surprisingly enduring relationship even in the mist of all the CGI action.  Those looking for more Godzilla action might be a little disappointed since he's more of a secondary character here even though he gets to dole out his fair share of destruction.  The action isn't concerned with collateral damage in anyway shape or form as cities are destroyed left and right throughout.  Wingard is fully aware of what kind of film he's making with Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire and those looking for epic kaiju battles are sure to leave happy.


Tuesday, March 26, 2024



Ex-UFC fighter Dalton takes a job as a bouncer at a Florida Keys roadhouse, only to discover that this paradise is not all it seems.

Director: Doug Liman

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Daniela Melchior, Conor McGregor, J. D. Pardo, Arturo Castro, Billy Magnussen, Joaquim de Almeida

Release Date: March 21, 2024

Genre: Action, Thriller

Rated R for violence throughout, pervasive language and some nudity.

Runtime: 1h 54m


Doug Liman's remake of the 80's cult classic, Road House, is entertaining in spurts thanks to some fun action sequences and solid turn from Jake Gyllenhaal but it doesn't do anything memorable enough to make the redux necessary.  Liman's film uses the basic plot of the original as the scaffolding for this update while only making cosmetic changes to the setting, characters and motivations.  It makes the entire thing feel strangely familiar but missing that 80s goofiness that only feathered mullets and karate kicks can bring about.  It’s replaced by a glossy sort of sweaty griminess that makes you feel every bit of that pre storm humidity throughout the film.  Liman makes great use of the scenery to deliver some visually impressive sequences such as Dalton & Ellie's date on a sandbar or some hyper kinetic fight sequences that border on cartoonish even by the original's standards.  Those action sequences are aggressively brutal and edited like they are trying to keep a caffeinated squirrel's attention.  Some of these sequences work better than others but they could all use some judicious trimming to avoid the pervading sense of overkill that takes over.  There are the ingredients of a fun, mindless, beat 'em up but the film lacks the sort of streamlined efficiency to make it all work with multiple dead spots killing most of the film's forward momentum.  Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a workmanlike, understated performance in the central role as he tries to give the character more depth and nuance than what's on page.  Unfortunately, all the other characters are one note at best with Arturo Castro and Billy Magnussen being the lone standouts who at least have fun with their roles.  Conor McGregor's cinematic debut is an embarrassingly over the top performance, puffed out chest and all, that's more likely to elicit unintentional laughter than anything else.  Daniela Melchior and Joaquim de Almeida both deliver professional if uninspired turns to round out the supporting cast.  When it's all said and done this version of Road House isn't likely to leave much of an impression and will probably be forgotten shortly after the credits roll.


Monday, March 25, 2024



An American nun embarks on a new journey when she joins a remote convent in the Italian countryside. However, her warm welcome quickly turns into a living nightmare when she discovers her new home harbours a sinister secret and unspeakable horrors.

Director: Michael Mohan

Cast: Sydney Sweeney, Álvaro Morte, Benedetta Porcaroli, Dora Romano, Giorgio Colangeli, Simona Tabasco

Release Date: March 22, 2024

Genre: Horror

Rated R for strong and bloody violent content, grisly images, nudity and some language.

Runtime: 1h 29m


Michael Mohan's Immaculate borrows bits and pieces from a variety of sources such as Suspiria and Rosemary's Baby to create something that's initially moody before turning into something that's as nutty as it is darkly funny.  Mohan's direction is confident, and self assured with his film carrying a specific look and feel which takes full advantage of the setting and iconography of a Catholic nunnery in the Italian country side.  He creates a disconcerting, isolated setting that could serve as its own character in the grand scheme of the film's story.  Against that backdrop, Sydney Sweeney's wide eyed, naïve Cecilia enters an alien environment with sinister machinations at play.  Sweeney does some heavy lifting here as she carry's the film from start to finish as we follow her character's twisted journey.  She gives you a tangible sense of her character's lack of control over what's happening to her as things get progressively more dire.  There's an understated, restraint to her performance until the film hits its blood soaked final act where she takes a more active control over her destiny.  There's an abundance of themes you can pick through varying from religious to gender issues making it a film ready made to be dissected with think pieces.  That being said, the script relies on both sides of the board.  It’s an issue that extends to Sweeney's Cecilia who is little more than a cobbled together persona tethered together by a traumatic childhood event.  Immaculate's cathartic, finale recalls the closing moments of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with it's bloodied, primal release but you're left feeling that it would have been even more impactful if the film has more well rounded characters.     

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