Eric D. Snider

Movie Review: "The Raid 2 (Indonesian)" B- March 28, 2014

More punching, kicking of Indonesians

In fall 2011, a splendidly violent martial-arts film called "The Raid" popped up out of Indonesia and blew the heads off film festival audiences at midnight screenings around the world. Dumbly retitled "The Raid: Redemption" for its U.S. release, the flick boasted 101 minutes of almost nonstop hand-to-hand combat and gunfights in a story about a SWAT team taking down a crime lord in his well-fortified apartment building. The plot was unremarkable (the usual dirty cops and personal vendettas), but the action was some of the best that fight aficionados had ever seen.

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Movie Review: "Sabotage" D+ March 28, 2014

Corrupt DEA agents and gross murders

"Sabotage" is disappointing for a number of reasons, not least of which is its failure to be about sabotage, or to even feature the Beastie Boys song "Sabotage." More importantly, it's gross and off-putting, a luridly "gritty" crime drama populated by sleazy characters (including the alleged good guys) and marked by a casual disregard for human life. It's an ugly movie.

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Movie Review: "Divergent" C March 24, 2014

Save the world by just being yourself

Like most movies, "Divergent" is based on a young-adult novel about a teenage girl living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In this case, the girl's name is Beatrice (Shailene Woodley), and her society is one in which everyone is divided into five groups matching their personality (basically: smart, brave, honest, selfless, or kind). There's a test you take when you're, I don't know, 17 or 18 that tells you which one you're best suited for, and it's usually whatever your parents were, but you're allowed to actually choose whichever one you want. The test is just, like, a suggestion. And then once you've chosen, you go live with that group -- the groups are segregated for some reason -- and choose an occupation from among the careers assigned to that group. (People in the Candor tribe can be lawyers and judges; the Erudite group are the teachers and scientists; etc.) Once you choose a group, you can never go back and live in a different one, for reasons that -- you will sense a recurring theme here -- the movie does not share with us.

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Movie Review: "Cheap Thrills" B+ March 21, 2014

What would you do for a Klondike bar?

You could read "Cheap Thrills" as a commentary on the current American socio-economic condition, with the working poor increasingly willing to humiliate themselves in exchange for whatever breadcrumbs are tossed to them by the plutocrats who control everything. That reading isn't much fun, though, and if there's one thing "Cheap Thrills" stands for, it's fun -- sick, demented fun, the kind that hurts the next day.

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Eric's Blog March 16, 2014

Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider #202: 'Need for Speed,' 'Veronica Mars,' SXSW

[Note to Movie B.S. subscribers: you might need to resubscribe through iTunes or whatever you use. There was a glitch in the matrix.]

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Movie Review: "Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (Chinese)" B- March 14, 2014

Insane live-action martial-arts cartoon

In 2005, the highest-grossing foreign film in the U.S. was Stephen Chow's "Kung Fu Hustle," a martial arts action comedy that remains, to this day, one of the looniest and most inventive live-action treats I've seen. It was popular enough to inspire Miramax to re-release Chow's previous film, "Shaolin Soccer," which the distributor had dumped earlier, and which had a similar cartoonish sensibility.

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Movie Review: "Bad Words" C March 14, 2014

All of the meanness, not enough laughs

"I'm not that good at a lot of stuff, especially thinking things through," says Guy Trilby at the beginning of "Bad Words." "That's why my plan was so s****y." He's right about that, and the same may apply to Jason Bateman, who plays the character and chose this film for his directorial debut.

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Movie Review: "Veronica Mars" B- March 14, 2014

Just like the TV show, except not free

Attending your 10-year high school reunion is rarely a good idea, and neither is reuniting the cast of a defunct TV series. But the "Veronica Mars" movie makes the best of both situations, giving fans of the show what they crave while being accessible for newcomers who want a glossy, mid-grade whodunit with a sense of humor.

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Eric's Blog March 7, 2014

Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider #201: '300: Rise of an Empire,' 'Tim's Vermeer'

[Movie B.S. is now being hosted by GeekNation! There were some bumps in the iTunes transition, but it should be sorted out now.]

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Movie Review: "Grand Piano" B March 7, 2014

Don't stop the music! Because you'll die!

Make no mistake, the premise of "Grand Piano" is 100 percent ridiculous. Do you remember "Phone Booth," where Colin Farrell couldn't hang up or he'd be killed by a sniper? It's like that, only it's concert pianist Elijah Wood who has to keep playing or risk being shot. "Now you know the true meaning of stage fright!" is something that the villain really says to him. There's also an element of the plot that's not entirely dissimilar to the Bugs Bunny gag where Yosemite Sam has rigged a certain key on the piano to explode when Bugs plays it.

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