Eric D. Snider

Movie Review: "Creed" A- November 25, 2015

We return to the ring with a new hero

Some of the sequels make this easy to forget, but the original "Rocky" was a sweet, inspiring little drama without much showiness. It followed a formula, but only partially (a formula wouldn't have let Rocky lose at the end), and it was about the characters more than it was about the boxing.

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Movie Review: "The Good Dinosaur" B- November 25, 2015

Prehistoric meanderings by way of Pixar

"The Good Dinosaur" is Pixar's 16th film, and it might be its most peculiar. It has a brazenly simple story, though the five (!) people credited with conceiving that story are evidence of the movie's troubled production and frequent rewrites. Originally scheduled for release in 2014, it was pushed back and had a new director (Peter Sohn) assigned when it became clear to Pixar's creative heads that the story wasn't working. Most of the cast was replaced, too.

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Movie Review: "Victor Frankenstein" D+ November 25, 2015

The dumb version you haven't heard

"Victor Frankenstein" starts with the mad doctor's assistant, Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), telling us, "You know this story." Well, then what are we doing here, Igor? Are you deliberately wasting our time?

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Movie Review: "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2" C+ November 20, 2015

Goes out with a whimper, not a bang

Well, that's disappointing. After defying expectations with three rich, thoughtful movies, the "Hunger Games" saga comes to a fizzling conclusion in "Mockingjay - Part 2," an overlong half-story that doesn't provide the satisfying resolution it promised. Every archer misses the target now and then, but it's a particular letdown when the arrow that goes wide is the final one.

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Eric's Blog November 16, 2015

Let's all make me a film critic again!

Ahoy, friends! Many of you long-time readers remember the days when I reviewed pretty much every new movie that came out. It was a time of peace and security, when you could visit with 99% confidence that I'd have a review of whatever movie you were considering.

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Movie Review: "The 33" C November 13, 2015

Killing time with unaccompanied miners

"The 33" is the perfect movie to see if you do not enjoy being surprised, challenged, or inspired. It tells the true story of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped 2,300 feet underground for several weeks in 2010 before (spoiler alert if you do not remember what happened five years ago) they were all rescued alive. It was a miraculous and happy story, but the film version is a slog -- an earnest slog, but a slog nonetheless. I suspect reading the Wikipedia entry about the event would be more stimulating.

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Movie Review: "SPECTRE" C+ November 6, 2015

Didn't these used to be a lot more fun?

Daniel Craig's fourth outing as James Bond finds him wearier, less humorous, and more apathetic than before -- and buddy, I'm right there with you. "SPECTRE" fills in the blanks of a standard 007 adventure, but it feels like those involved were merely completing an assignment. (How it was made by the same director, Sam Mendes, and most of the same writers as the energetic "Skyfall" is beyond me.) The action is fine but hardly memorable. The villain, played by Christoph Waltz, has limited screen time, and is disappointingly underutilized even then.

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Movie Review: "Our Brand is Crisis" B- October 30, 2015

Screwing up elections in South America

"Our Brand Is Crisis" shows that no matter where else we may have fallen behind, America is still a great exporter of political skulduggery. Based on a 2005 documentary about the 2002 Bolivian presidential election, this slight political dramedy stars Sandra Bullock as Jane Bodine, a fierce campaign strategist who's flown down to La Paz by Senator Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida), an aloof, unpopular former president trying to achieve a come-from-behind victory. Castillo's rival has hired Jane's rival, a smiling Carville-esque weasel named Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton) with whom Jane has a long, bitter, occasionally playful history.

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Movie Review: "Jem and the Holograms" C- October 23, 2015

Your basic showbiz rags-to-riches story

"Jem and the Holograms" brings the '80s cartoon about an all-girl rock band into the real world. Sort of. That is to say, it's live-action, and it thinks it's presenting a real-world account of a band's rise to fame, but it's actually hilariously divorced from reality. (This is the only hilarious thing about it.)

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Movie Review: "The Last Witch Hunter" D October 23, 2015

Vin Diesel fights witches, enunciation

I hold movies to the same standard as people: if you can't be good, you should at least be fun. "The Last Witch Hunter," starring inarticulate golem Vin Diesel as an immortal Catholic tasked with keeping the peace between witches and regular folk, fails to be either. Instead, director Breck Eisner ("The Crazies," "Sahara") opts for chaotic action and half-baked digital effects, all in the service of a thin story with no interesting characters.

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