Eric D. Snider

Movie Review: "Nine Lives (2016)" C- August 6, 2016

Kevin Spacey cashes an easy paycheck

Wow, what a mixup! "Nine Lives" -- a benign, cheap-looking family comedy about a workaholic dad who learns What's Really Important when he becomes trapped in the body of a house cat -- was clearly supposed to be a Disney Channel movie. It carefully avoids profanity, it's the perfect length to fill a two-hour time slot with commercials, and the visual effects (even basic ones like green-screen backgrounds) were designed under the assumption that they'd never be seen by anyone who would care that they're terrible. There's no way this was intended to play in theaters.

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Eric's Blog August 5, 2016

Friday movie roundup - Aug. 5

August is busting out all over, just like in the first draft of the old song. The movie pickin's are slim this week:

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Movie Review: "Cafe Society" B- August 4, 2016

Woody farts out another one of these

For his 45th movie, Woody Allen has once again retreated to the safety of yesteryear, a simpler time when a man could have a girlfriend 20 years his junior without anyone noticing. "Cafe Society," set mostly in Hollywood in the late 1930s, is typical 21st-century Woody: pleasant, though not particularly funny; a bit melancholic, though not emotionally affecting; likable though not memorable. Woody Allen is now our most prolific producer of cinematic shrugs.

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Movie Review: "Suicide Squad" D August 3, 2016

Suicide is painless (plotless, pointless)

"Suicide Squad" is the equivalent of a band releasing a "greatest hits" album that's all new songs and covers, and not very good ones. The same cart-before-the-horse mentality that leads to Part Twos being announced before the Part Ones are finished has led to this: a rogue's gallery of supervillains we've never heard of but whom the movie treats like household names.

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Eric's Blog July 29, 2016

Friday movie roundup - July 29

It's the end of July, which means the summer blockbuster season is 3/4 over. Only a month to go! Here are this week's movies, in order of quality:

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Movie Review: "Jason Bourne" C July 28, 2016

How much more is there to remember?!

Maybe too much time has passed since we last saw Jason Bourne, in "The Bourne Ultimatum," in 2007. Maybe his quest for answers went as far as it needed to go and didn't require an extension. Maybe the serviceable "Bourne Legacy," with Jeremy Renner as a substitute, made it clear that Bourne himself was unnecessary. Whatever the problem is, the fifth entry in the franchise, is a flat, affectless, misfire.

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Movie Review: "Bad Moms" B- July 28, 2016

Girls (and moms) just wanna have fun

"Hangover" scribes Jon Lucas and Scott Moore have certainly found their niche. Their debut as writer-directors, "21 & Over," transferred "Hangover"-style debauchery to a college setting, and their latest, "Bad Moms," gives us the Moms Gone Wild version. If you want to see people drunkenly misbehave in an often funny but sloppily written raunch-com, Lucas & Moore are your guys!

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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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