Eric D. Snider

Eric's Blog April 15, 2016

Friday movie roundup: April 15

BAM! Three new wide releases this week, and I have reviews of all of them! Just like the old days.

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Movie Review: "The Jungle Book" B- April 15, 2016

Well, 'necessity' is a strong word...

Disney's new live-action version of "The Jungle Book" has the same basic plot and many of the same details as the 1967 animated one, so let's not kid ourselves about why it exists. It's not because the Disney braintrust wanted to improve upon their previous work; it's because they wanted to copy their previous work and sell it again.

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Movie Review: "Barbershop: The Next Cut" B- April 14, 2016

Back for a trim, sociological discussion

Spike Lee's most recent movie, "Chi-Raq," was a satirical comedy about efforts to curb gang violence in Chicago's black neighborhoods. Not many people saw it (though it's great -- it made my top 10 list last year); like a lot of Spike Lee films, its anger makes it a tough sell. But by sheer coincidence, here comes "Barbershop: The Next Cut," a mildly funny but wholly sincere comedy from Lee's cousin, Malcolm D. Lee, that covers a lot of the same ground, but in a congenial, non-confrontational, we-don't-have-the-answers-but-let's-talk-about-it kind of way. Less effective, maybe, but certainly more palatable.

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Movie Review: "Criminal (2016)" C+ April 14, 2016

What if Ryan Reynolds were inside you?

There's no shortage of ludicrous action movies for teenagers, but let us sing the praises, however mildly and briefly, of far-fetched thrillers meant for adults -- like "Criminal," a sober-minded (but nonsensical) piece of espionage fluff from the writers of "Double Jeopardy" and "The Rock" (which should give you some idea of what to expect here). The line between youth-oriented hogwash and adult-oriented hogwash is hard to define, but in this case, it means the film is a little smarter and heavier than its PG-13 summer blockbuster counterpart would be. But only a little!

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Eric's Blog April 8, 2016

Friday movie roundup: April 8

Happy springtime, everyone! Here are the reviews I've posted since the last time I rounded them up, listed from longest title to shortest:

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Movie Review: "The Boss" C April 8, 2016

Everyone involved can do better than this

Let us stipulate that Melissa McCarthy is funny. She just is. She has brilliant instincts, she can play sweet just as convincingly as vulgar, and her character work is always fully committed and fundamentally amusing, even in material that isn't very good.

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Movie Review: "Hardcore Henry" D April 7, 2016

Never mind the POV, this thing's a POS

"Hardcore Henry" is a "first-person movie," as in, "Let me be the first person to tell you how bad this movie is." Written and directed by Ilya Naishuller (a protege of Russian genre-man Timur Bekmambetov), this barely coherent fantasy shoot-em-up is seen entirely through the eyes of its title character, a voiceless, bionic amnesiac who has no idea what he has woken up in the middle of. You'll know how he feels.

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Movie Review: "Hush" B+ April 6, 2016

Stalker learns his target has a deaf wish

"Hush" is a tense, breathless horror film full of things we've seen before but can never get enough of when they're done well, including a kickass heroine, an inherently frightening premise, and a creepy stalker in a white mask. It also has a few terrific things we don't see very often, like an awareness of how modern technology actually works and a deaf lady defending herself with kitchen knives. So really, there's something for everyone.

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Movie Review: "Meet the Blacks" D+ April 4, 2016

It's like 'The Purge,' but not as funny

There is far more stimulation in contemplating what an odd mess "Meet the Blacks" is than there is in watching it. Trust me, I've done both. The movie itself is a careless, mostly unfunny mix of slapstick, insults, racial humor, toothless satire, and semi-horror, all set in a world where the Purge is real. So is "Meet the Blacks" a spoof of "The Purge"? It sometimes thinks it is, but no, not really. It's more like "The Purge" fan fiction.

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Movie Review: "Midnight Special" B April 1, 2016

Unusual boy seeks a place in the world

Jeff Nichols, writer-director of down-to-earth dramas "Shotgun Stories," "Take Shelter," and "Mud," uses his latest, "Midnight Special," to branch out into science-fiction. Not the flashy, expensive kind, mind you, but the Jeff Nichols kind: thoughtful, meticulously composed, set on a personal scale, and starring Michael Shannon.

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