Eric D. Snider

Movie Review: "Nerve" C+ July 27, 2016

Will these idiots die, or just deserve to?

Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the directing team behind "Catfish," "Paranormal Activity 3" and "4," and the new teen-oriented cyber-thriller "Nerve," know how to affect coolness and currency without seeming to try too hard -- a rarity in Hollywood. Their films show young people using computers and social media the way actual youths do (more or less; Emma Roberts' Macbook does turn into a touchscreen a couple of times here), with slang that's topical but not forced.

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Eric's Blog July 22, 2016

Friday movie roundup - July 22

The Laotian kids who work in my sweatshop neglected to post a roundup last week, so we have a fortnight's worth of reviews to catch up on. They are:

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Movie Review: "Star Trek Beyond" B- July 22, 2016

Not bold, really, but adventurous enough

As attested by the four "Fast and the Furious" movies he made before this, "Star Trek Beyond" director Justin Lin was never a big fan of gravity. Here, at last, he can abuse it with impunity, and some of the most exhilarating moments in this amiable, low-stakes sequel involve upended starships and artificial atmospheres, people running up walls and sliding down corridors as the camera zips around to show us every angle. It may be the most intimate look we've had at the structure and geography of the U.S.S. Enterprise, and it's fun to feel the ground fall out from under you in those moments -- especially since everything else about the movie is so steady and unsurprising, with a villain-of-the-week ordinariness to it.

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Movie Review: "Ice Age: Collision Course" C- July 21, 2016

Feels like this is the 10th one, right?

After three harmless, amusing adventures and a fourth movie that I didn't see, the "Ice Age" franchise becomes a burden to society with its fifth entry, "Collision Course," a dismal animated sitcom that exhausts any remaining goodwill toward the series and its bland, dopey characters.

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Movie Review: "Lights Out" C July 21, 2016

Re-learning how to be afraid of the dark

"Lights Out," David F. Sandberg's 81-minute expansion of his 3-minute short, has a fine premise for a 3-minute short. Heck, you could even flesh it out to 10 or 15. This feature-length version, though, has a rushed, half-baked air to it, long enough to qualify as a feature yet somehow still short on story, character, and detail.

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Movie Review: "Captain Fantastic" B July 20, 2016

Off-road dad brings kids in from the wild

It says something about the charm of "Captain Fantastic" that I was able to enjoy it despite either rolling my eyes or frowning in disapproval at most of the main character's parenting choices. I think he's wrong a lot, but most (not all) of his wrongness comes from love for his children, not from self-interest. You can understand him even if you disagree with him.

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Movie Review: "Ghostbusters (2016)" B- July 14, 2016

Bustin' makes EVERYONE feel good

"Ghostbusters," the reboot of an obscure Harold Ramis/Ernie Hudson comedy from the 1980s, is about three scientists and a subway worker who learn that New York City is on the verge of being overrun by mean ghosts and must take action to prevent this. Like almost every reboot or remake of a good movie, it pales in comparison to the original. Unlike many, it's funny and high-spirited enough to stand on its own. Indeed, it does best when it's not using forced cameos or callbacks to remind us of the first movie, but instead letting these four new characters do their thing.

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Movie Review: "The Infiltrator" B July 13, 2016

Walter White takes down Pablo Escobar

Bryan Cranston is winning America's hearts and minds one drug at a time -- first as a self-made meth kingpin in "Breaking Bad," now as a U.S. Customs agent going after a Colombian cocaine cartel in "The Infiltrator," a sturdy crime drama based on Robert Mazur's "Miami Vice"-era memoir.

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Movie Review: "The Phenom" B July 10, 2016

A young pitcher struggles with control

[In theaters and Video on Demand.] ••• As "The Phenom" demonstrates, pitching is all about focus. So is filmmaking, for that matter, a fact also demonstrated by this mature, sure-footed drama about a hot young pitcher trying not to crack under the pressure. Writer-director Noah Buschel isn't a rookie -- this is his sixth feature, though almost certainly the first one you've heard of -- but he brings both a youthful passion and a veteran's control to the story.

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Eric's Blog July 8, 2016

Friday movie roundup (and Patreon update) - July 8

Greetings, friends who can read! (I have some who can't. They aren't reading this.) Here's what we have this week: two new wide releases and a couple of catching-up reviews from before:

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