Kyle North

Staff Writer



Too Bad There Wasn't A Story Hiding In These "Dead Shadows" Review

“Hey, zombies are in. Let’s make a movie about them. It’s guaranteed to be a hit, right?” Only if it’s good. Dead Shadows is a French import from first-timer David Cholewa, who cites his influences as everyone from Carpenter to Spielberg, and Lovecraft to comic book artist Paolo Eleuteri. Unfortunately, throwing out a myriad of legitimate names doesn’t necessarily imply legitimate skills. In an attempt to restore action-packed, ‘80s horror to France, Cholewa has churned out a special effects heavy bloodfest that lacks the one ingredient everyone from Carpenter to Lovecraft understood: story.

Apr
12
2014
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"Rocky" Delivers A Knockout (5 Tries Out Of 6) Review

How can you put Sylvester Stallone in the same sentence with Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles? Rocky. The film that made him only the third person to be nominated for Best Actor and Best Screenplay in the same year. The stories are legend; a young unknown actor who nobody trusted to carry a film peddling one of the greatest underdog scripts every written with pennies left in the bank as he held out for his big shot. Producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff could greenlight a film and took a chance, while the Steadicam proved itself the future of cinematic motion, capturing a character race up the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps from obscurity to icon. Here, with the first of the series newly remastered, are all six movies on Blu-ray for the first time. Yo Adrian!

Apr
03
2014
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"Stone" Rewards Your "Patience" Review

From the novel of the same name, co-written and directed by the book’s author, Atiq Rahimi, The Patience Stone is named for a Persian folk story about a magical stone that one can confide anything to. In this case, the patience stone is the comatose husband of a beautiful young woman, who finally finds her voice, then rarely loses it, as she builds the strength to share her life’s story with a man who ruled over her as a tyrant.

The woman (Golshifteh Farahani) is never named, nor is her husband (Hamidreza Javdan). As the film opens, the evocative tableau suggests a penitent ideal of womanhood in wartime, an age-old image of the caring wife tending to her heroic and maimed husband. As the bombs shaking their provincial home cease, bringing an eerie calm, it is her voice that finally punctuates the silence. From there on, everything changes, inverting every understanding we have of the constructs of gender and freedom, heroism and servitude.

Apr
03
2014
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"Hours" A Fitting Tribute To Walker Review

Hours shrinks the Hollywood megabudget, proving yet again that a small, specific idea can trump expensive special effects. Falling into a developing tradition of high-profile actors taking on creative micro-thrillers, a la Ryan Reynolds in Buried or Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain in Take Shelter, Hours is a taut thriller that relies on character over battle sequences and emotion over quick one-liners.

Scribe Eric Heisserer is Hollywood’s reboot man, scripting the new Nightmare on Elm Street, Final Destination 5, and The Thing. Hours is a genre departure for him and also marks his directorial debut. Starting in the hours before Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Nolan Hayes (Paul Walker) rushes his pregnant wife (Genesis Rodriguez) to the hospital. When the birth is complicated, Nolan tragically loses his wife and is stricken to learn his newborn must be supported by a ventilator to survive. Katrina hits and the hospital is evacuated, but Nolan stays behind to keep his child alive.

Mar
30
2014
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"Alpha And Omega" Loses "The Great Wolf Games" Review

In 2010, Lionsgate released the animated 3D adventure, Alpha and Omega about the hierarchy of a wolf pack as Alpha Kate (Hayden Panettiere) and Omega Humphrey (Justin Long) defied pack convention to fall in love. With an all-star cast, including Danny Glover, Dennis Hopper in his last role, and Christina Ricci, the film was critically panned but commercially successful and has since spawned two sequels, with another on the way for October 2014. Alpha and Omega 3: The Great Wolf Games lacks the name talent and “pawsome” production value, making for a no-frills addition to a sustainable low-risk franchise that is available exclusively at Wal-Mart.

Mar
29
2014
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It's Safe To Let "Gentle Ben" Walk Among Us Review

From 1967-1969, over the course of two seasons, America traveled to the Florida Everglades to embark on family-friendly adventures with the Wedloes. They were an All-American family led by game warden Tom (Dennis Weaver), his wife Ellen (Beth Brickell), and their son Mark (played by, yes, Ron Howard’s younger brother, Clint). While his elder sibling was keeping busy as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show, Clint horsed around with his tame bear, the titular Ben.

The formula was always the same, mirrored in many shows of the time. Something was wrong or a new, always relatively harmless, foe threatened the Everglades and the Wedloes had to restore order with their furry friend. The ‘60s were a boom time for television, from Gilligan and the Brady Bunch to Dick Van Dyke and Bonanza. Somewhere between The Addams family and the Flinstones, Gentle Ben found a home with another family-centric yarn.

Mar
17
2014
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"Instructions Not Included", But Laughs Are Review

Hollywood can’t stop talking about what was accomplished with $5 million on Dallas Buyers Club, but what about what Mexican production Instructions Not Included did for the same amount? Deservedly the highest-grossing Mexican film in the United States, the film is a sweeping, heartfelt tale with impeccable production value across lush, vibrant locales that keep the tapestry of the film ever-changing. Departing from the confines of Hollywood formulaic storytelling, the film delivers a patient, poignant journey rife with laughs, but not afraid of tears. What Pan’s Labyrinth did for fantasy, Instructions Not Included does for the family comedy.

Mar
11
2014
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"Code Red" Never Rises From The Dead Review

The zombie flicks just keep coming. While The Walking Dead continues to top the charts, even ousting the Olympics for viewership, filmmakers are rallying to the undead battle cry to give their view of the apocalypse. In the case of Code Red, Bulgaria  falls victim to Stalin-era Soviet chemical weapons just as a U.S. Special Forces operator shows up on the scene. What starts out promisingly, with a superb opening sequence in Stalingrad, quickly devolves to clichéd machismo and trite storytelling.

Feb
23
2014
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"SEAL Patrol" Doesn't Make It Out Of Training Review

They really should have named this movie “Blackjacks.” For starters, it’s a much cooler title (and supposedly the original title). More relevant to the film, however, is that there is absolutely nothing to do with Navy SEALs, aside from the fact that an ex-SEAL joins a team of military contractors. SEAL Patrol jumps genres, from tactical military extraction to science fiction. While this formula can work, a la the 1987 brilliance of Predator, this patrol should have stayed in the barracks.

Feb
23
2014
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Surprisingly, The Actors Didn't Need An "Escape Plan" Review

“The first pairing of action legends Stallone and Schwarzenegger in leading roles.” End of review. Not really, but that does say it all. The audience for this thrilling yarn of two icons in lockdown relying on each other to breakout is guaranteed and devout. In this case, that faith is not misplaced. Escape Plan delivers a rip-roaring, well-made, if not entirely unpredictable, ride that’s bound to leave most eager fans more than satisfied.

Ray Breslin (Stallone) is the world’s foremost expert on prison security. He’s literally written the book on the subject, having spent most of his life voluntarily in prison, breaking out of some of the best supermaxes in the country. After another successful breakout with the assistance of his punchy team (Amy Ryan and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson), he’s presented with the job of all jobs by his boss (Vincent D’Onofrio). Abducted and blackbagged, Breslin wakes up off the grid in “the Tomb,” a futuristic prison under the tyrannical thumb of Warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel) and his violent crony Drake (Vinnie Jones). When burly Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) saves him in the yard, Breslin teams up to figure a way out. But not all is as it seems as he comes to realize he’s been set up and that no one intends to ever let him out.

Feb
22
2014
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