Lex Walker

Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.

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History Keeps on Truckin' Down That Disappointing "Ice Road" Review

In case you hadn’t already decided that the last six seasons of Ice Road Truckers all play out the same way and essentially look the same on the screen, now there’s a seventh season in which all kinds of untold horrors supposedly await our drivers but never actually happen. Ice Road Truckers has perfected the unspoken selling point that makes NASCAR a fan-favorite, the potential for death and destruction, but it rarely ever delivers. Instead, it makes its ratings off of truck drivers whining and bickering like children as they risk their lives piloting huge automotive monstrosities across stretches of ice and roads that shouldn’t be touched by anything without 4-wheel drive. Whether fans of the show want to admit it or not, they’re basically just watching a highly compartmentalized version of Big Brother, without any of the sex or romance.

Dec
27
2013
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A Sense of Child-like Wonder Surfaces in "Lost & Found" Review

Lost and Found is the kind of short film certain kids will gravitate to and insist on watching over and over again until they’re whispering Jim Broadbent’s narration under their breath with a wide-eyed stare as they remain fascinated by the story they’ve seen 100 times. At only 24-minutes long it doesn’t require much attention, but you’ll want to give it to the film anyways once the pretty animation and cute character design appear on the screen. And what’s even better than a pretty movie that captivates a child’s imagination, one that manages to sneak in a lesson about friendship that doesn’t at all feel contrived or overdone. Lost and Found is the ideal children’s movie: entertaining, calming, and ultimately educational.

Dec
27
2013
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Most of the Thrills Have Abandoned This "Colony" Review

Does The Colony have action? A fair bit, yes, and it’s fairly well done all things considered. Does it have a good cast? Pretty good thanks to Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton in supporting positions. What it doesn’t have is an ounce of sense. Set in a world that has descended into an eternal winter which forced the remaining vestiges of humanity into secluded underground encampments, The Colony features characters and antagonists that are either blindly foolish or oddly and inexplicably savage with no real explanation as for why. Director and writer Jeff Renfroe just hopes you won’t notice once the film kicks into high gear and the film because a series of chases through tunnels and frozen wastelands. And the pounding soundtrack almost helps it succeed, but eventually during the film you stop and ask, “Hey, why can’t these cannibals communicate beyond growls and grunts? They’d be so much more efficient in slaughtering helpless colonies.”

Dec
27
2013
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"The World's End" Gets Better With Each Viewing Review

Since the start of the Cornetto Trilogy back in 2004 with Shaun of the Dead, a romantic comedy with zombies, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost have gone on to give us their take on the buddy cop film with Hot Fuzz, and now their Sci-Fi comedy The World’s End. It’s weird to say it in what is supposed to be a review of the film, but the less you know about The World’s End going in, the more enjoyable it ultimately is. A large part of the comical glee that the film delivers comes from not knowing exactly which classic Sci-Fi tropes the movie is going to borrow from, so when the first big reveal comes suddenly and unexpectedly, an odd combination of astonishment and amusement can cross your face and stay there for the rest of the film.

Dec
27
2013
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Behold the Depressing Dreariness of "All is Bright" Review

There’s a perpetual oddness to the tone and feel of Phil Morrison’s dark (or maybe just dreary) comedy All is Bright, which sees Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd as two friends in love with the same woman and a desire to start living their lives on the straight and narrow through the honest work of selling Christmas trees in New York City. It’s a premise that doesn’t sound inherently funny, and really the only flashes of comedy that escape the cold dense center of the film are hard to laugh at with everything else in the film considered (including an ending you might see coming as things start to get too happy for the film’s cynical nature). And if the bleakness of the story isn’t enough to convince you that Rudd and Giamatti aren’t their typical likable selves here and you still decide to give it a try, good luck not being distracted by Giamatti’s mutton chops.

Dec
27
2013
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In This "Fast and Furious" Age, You Can't "Getaway" With This Review

Considering how good the Fast & Furious movies have gotten in the last few installments, it’s a dangerous idea for any producer, director, or writer to think they can put out a film that half-asses it on the stunt driving, fun, and plot and still seem relevant or even worthwhile. That franchise might not have set the bar incredibly high, but it has set a bar, and Getaway doesn’t even try to clear it, choosing instead to just hold its hands over its ears and pretend it’s the only film like it to come along in the last decade. That self-confidence can either be bold and endearing or a kiss of death, and this time it’s the latter. Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez fumble their way through a thriller that hits more plotting speed bumps than its dented and ramshackle chassis can take, causing it to fall to pieces halfway through.

Dec
27
2013
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The Flawed "Elysium" Still Stands as the Year's Best Sci-Fi Flick Review

It’s no surprise that Neill Blomkamp’s films tend to have a fixation on apartheid policies considering his South African roots, and with Elysium he follows up on the statements he made in District 9, but this time with socioeconomic status in place of race (or species, for that matter). Crafting an immersive futuristic world of slums and space-age paradises, Blomkamp’s Elysium features a reality that feels genuine and lived in, and the performances by everyone involved (Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Alice Braga, Wagner Moura) help cement the sense of oppression and class division central to the story. All is not ideal in Elysium, however, and the story asserts a brewing battle between the haves and have nots without bothering to make much sense of the situation before running ahead.

Dec
27
2013
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Fox Brings a New Stellar Collection of Classics to Blu-ray Review

Fox has been doing its part to bring classic films into the modern era with its line of Blu-ray releases aimed at honoring some of the most memorable and cherished features of the 20th century by letting movie lovers choose which titles get the HD treatment next. This time around, Fox offers us a delightful selection of eight films, some which are well known and others which border on the obscure side, but all of which ought to be seen by discerning cinephiles. The titles include the lauded Desk Set (starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn), the Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge musical Carmen Jones, the 1935 adaptation of Jack London’s Call of the Wild starring Clark Gable, the supernatural romance The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, the swashbuckler adventure The Black Swan, the John Wayne flicks The Undefeated and North to Alaska, and Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda in the Western gangster flick Jesse James.

Dec
06
2013
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"Passion" Elicits Unfortunate Indifference Review

Not much can be said for Brian De Palma’s latest thriller Passion beyond that it has a solid cast in Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace and that it looks quite excellent in HD. The story is rather tiresome even if the premise shows some initial potential and by the time the film gets around to its reveals and twists it’s hard to care. Maybe it’s because neither of our female protagonists are particularly likeable or even endeared to the audience in any meaningful way, but most likely it’s because the story ultimately squanders the concept of two women engaged in a cutthroat battle of career advancement in favor of a bland murder mystery. Passion has all the elements of a great movie at its disposal, but they never come together to be anything more than mediocre.

Dec
06
2013
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Directing, Acting, and Writing are Apparently All "Dead in Tombstone" Review

Remember when Danny Trejo wasn’t a lead actor and instead played smaller menacing rolls as a hitman or generic tough guy? I hate to say it, but Danny Trejo was starring in much better films when that was the case. His recent surge as Machete and its sequel (which weren’t particularly good but rather hilarious in their horribleness) has shown that Trejo is better in small amounts where his inability to really act isn’t exposed for 90-minutes at a time. And the recent western action film Dead in Tombstone just reiterates how true that is. It doesn’t help that the film is horribly written and the action is uninspired, but Trejo really doesn’t help things at all.

Dec
06
2013
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Find Out "How Sherlock Changed the World" Pre-Benedict Cumberbatch Obsession Review

From the Robert Downey Jr. series to BBC’s wildly popular modern take with Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock Holmes is experiencing a wave of popularity that has once again put the famous literary character in the spotlight. It’s obviously not the first time, nor is this time around anywhere close to being the detective’s most profound effect on culture, especially when you consider the impact Sherlock Holmes has had on the progression of forensic investigation, a practice which was all but non-existent before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle suggested the elements present at a crime scene could play a significant role in solving the case. Holmes’s contributions to the modern crime-solving profession are chronicled in PBS’s How Sherlock Changed the World.

Dec
06
2013
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"Robot Chicken" Deserves to Cluck on Indefinitely Review

If you want a show that takes hilarious jabs at pop culture using cuts from one scene to the next, the best option on television isn’t Family Guy but rather Robot Chicken, the stop-motion brainchild of Seth Green, Mike Fasolo, and Matthew Senreich. The series has managed to remain devastatingly funny even as the novelty of its use of action figures and various objects of nostalgia has worn off. Not many comedy series manage to outlive their novelty factor, but Robot Chicken does it, and in a way that’s as morbidly hilarious as the first season was (which is what made it so great). At this rate, Robot Chicken deserves to cluck on forever, or as long as the guys behind it are willing to do the painstaking stop-motion work combined with clever comic premises.

Nov
14
2013
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Con Drama "White Collar" Confirms its Spot as USA's New #1 Review

USA network had a pretty great run as a basic cable channel in the early 90s, and then for about a decade it lapsed and faded into the background as one of those channels where shows with enough episodes for syndication found new life in reruns. And then they started to develop their own programming again, and it’s doubtful that after the success of Burn Notice and now White Collar that the network will ever be the same again. With Burn Notice having just finished its run in an impressive fashion that managed to continually come up with sufficiently different arcs for each season, White Collar now stands as the channel’s banner show, and if the fourth season is any indication, they’ve got something that can easily run for another 4 seasons and retain its charm.

Nov
14
2013
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There's Nothing Special About These "Treasures of New York" Review

People celebrate New York City as a mecca of culture and the arts, and if you’re only looking at a very slim portion of what NYC actually is, then those accolades are dead on and PBS’s Treasures of New York is right on the money instead of being shortsighted and little more than a tourism promo. From that perspective, Treasures of New York hits a few of the city’s biggest cultural attractions, but it also ignores a huge number that are every bit as deserving of recognition as the others listed here. The question of this set then becomes, why did PBS choose to single out Roosevelt House, Hearst Tower, Park Avenue Armory, The New York Historical Society, Pratt Institute, The New York Botanical Garden, and the American Museum of Natural History?

Nov
14
2013
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Get Inspired by MLK's "March" All Over Again Review

It should be obvious that all of the struggles and trials of the American Civil Rights Movement didn’t just happen by the sheer power of Martin Luther King Jr.’s will, a number of players that history remembers but rarely highlights played crucial parts in constructing the right circumstances and helping to garner public support. All of that effort culminated in the Million Man March in Washington D.C. and the United States was never quite the same. PBS’s documentary The March takes a look at everything that happened in the years months and weeks leading up to that fateful happening and all of the people that played an integral part along the way. With Denzel Washington acting as narrator, The March is a stirring reminder of just how momentous an occasion that day really was and how it impacted the lives of everyone today.

Nov
14
2013
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"Europa Report" Marks Another Chapter in Contemplative Sci-Fi Review

There have been a number of excellent quiet and contemplative Sci-Fi dramas in the last decade; films like Danny Boyle’s Sunshine and Moon that take a common Sci-Fi premise but don’t overload with lasers and huge battles and instead focus on the impact that the cold, unforgiving stretches of space have on the human mind and spirit as they hurdle into the void and away from everything and everyone they’ve ever known. That sense of isolation has been used in many films, but it’s the frontier of space that adds a sense of mystery of severity to the aforementioned films’ tone, and now Europa Report joins the ranks of small intimate character pieces set in space, and it’s hard to say whether its final revelation at the end spoils the wonder it calmly and quietly builds or if it makes it all worthwhile.

Nov
11
2013
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Are You Up for Stupid Fun? Then Try "White House Down" Review

Praising a film by the king of cinematic disaster Roland Emmerich and pronouncing it the best work he's done in a decade doesn't carry much weight when you consider his recent list of disappointments like the William Shakespeare quasi-biopic Anonymous; the all-out destruction porn of 2012; the deplorable 10,000 BC; and his first draft of that aforementioned all-out destruction porn, The Day After Tomorrow. None of them had the spark of wit or charm that made his cult favorite Independence Day an enduring but cheesy Sci-Fi classic. Perhaps that's why White House Down feels something like a return to that previous highlight of Emmerich's career; with some solid chemistry between Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, White House Down plays out like Die Hard in the White House. It's very clear it wants to channel that "lone man takes on terrorists" vibe, but that's where the film gets tripped up by Emmerich's obsession with spectacle and inability to conceal even the most minor of twists.

Nov
11
2013
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"Bones" Regresses Back to its Weaker Formula Review

On a purely technical level, I can understand how Bones has survived to an eighth season: it’s a competently written crime procedural (which is like printing money in TV ratings most of the time) with a great cast with lots of chemistry led by the talented Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz. Once you start watching though, it’s hard not to feel like the show is haunted by the formulaic character dynamic of the first five seasons and that the writers are trying to change but failing and slipping back into that rut. For far too much of the show’s duration, the character of Bones experienced little to no development for the sake of a tired running gag that she’d constantly fail to read people’s body language or seemingly obvious communication cues because she has a level of autism. In its eighth season, Bones finally has its titular character growing thanks to a blossoming relationship with Booth and their child – and yet it doesn’t take long before the writers pull them back into dysfunction.

Nov
11
2013
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This Tribute to "The Greatest Ears in Town" Deserves to be Seen and Heard Review

Like with Inventing David Geffen, The Greatest Ears in Town: The Arif Mardin Story celebrates one of the unsung heroes of the music industry whose fingerprints can be found on some of the most enduring songs from the 70s onward. The hero in question is Arif Mardin and his influence has left a lasting impression on artists like Bette Midler, the Bee Gees, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Hall & Oates, Willie Nelson, Dusty Springfield, Norah Jones, and far too many other names to list. He could coax the perfect take from an artist and then pair it with an instrumental backup that few other producers could match thanks to his education in music. The man is a music legend, and The Greatest Ears in Town is a great tribute to the man behind the music.

Nov
11
2013
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Classic Adventure Surfaces in "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" Review

There are moments from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea that are forever emblazoned into the minds of every child who saw the movie during their formative years: the small escape vessel navigating a mine field, a gigantic squid assaulting a submarine, the Earth circled in a hellish ring of fire. And yet, despite how memorable the imagery of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is, it makes up a startlingly small percentage of what the film actually is, with most of the story spent in the confines of the ship or a building in New York as people argue over the proper way to save the world and reprimand one another for giving up too soon. In that respect, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea could be considered quite dull if it weren’t for those fantastical old-timey underwater encounters and the spirit of adventure that underlies its dreary talked-to-death apocalyptic tone.

Nov
08
2013
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