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The Bad Movie Stack: Bug Buster

Are you tired of monster movies where everyone acts mildly sane? I doubt you would be, not many of them exist; nor is Bug Buster one of them. The characters of most monster movies would be prime candidates for a Darwin Award, if they covered fiction. It’s a real problem in horror, even modern horror, where the overall enjoyment of the film sees a major negative detour once characters start acting like idiots. Would you open a door that had a bloodcurdling scream come from behind it? Of course, if that’s your cup of tea, all the power to you; but I have a hard time retaining the feeling that it’s supposed to be a horror experience. Bug Buster, also known as “Some Things Never Die”, is enjoyable because it doesn’t have the luxury of being a serious horror movie. I’m still unsure if it is intentional or not however.…

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“Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” an explosive and flashy finale

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The penultimate installment to Wes Ball’s teenage dystopian franchise, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, hit theaters late last week. Returning from serious injuries sustained on-set, Dylan O’Brien along with Ki Hong-Li and Thomas Brody-Sangster give their all in their last performances as main characters Thomas, Minho, and Newt, respectively. Picking up almost immediately after the events of “The Scorch Trials,” Thomas (O’Brien) and Newt (Sangster) stage a flash train heist rescue, not unlike those you’d see in an old western film, only this time they’re rescuing their friend Minho. Having been captured by the sinister WIKD organization during the ending of the previous film, their rescue is in vain when they pick up the wrong train car and Minho is transported back to WIKD headquarters. Regrouping with the “Right Arm” resistance group who is planning on sailing a ship to a deserted island offshore, they hatch a new grand plan to…

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Critical Mess: the fall of film critique

It’s hard to be critical about things consistently without getting introspective. In my case, I have to think if some of my opinions on certain subjects are more trivial than necessary. I justify it to myself that while the big problems are more apparent and do result in more apparent damage to a particular piece of media, the small issues are what bring continual unease in the consumption. Like an undetected subtle medical issue, it can’t be readily seen, and the effects can only be assumptions based on experience. I see it as my purpose in reviewing and critiquing anything that I show my hand, explaining my reasons for why these issues are worth mentioning. That is what critique is for. But like anything with value, the more there is of something, the less valuable it becomes. Essentially, I feel certain criticisms have deflated in value due to how often…

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Murder on the Orient Express: An average mystery with a star-studded cast

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Kenneth Branagh’s “Murder on the Orient Express” paints a suitable picture of a classic murder mystery. It stars Branagh as the famed detective Hercule Poirot and he has one of the most talented ensemble casts you’ll see all year. Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Leslie Odom Jr., Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Willem Dafoe play a group of passengers on the Orient Express, a train in which Poirot finds himself on in search of a short vacation from solving mysteries. Branagh’s direction of Orient Express creates a sinister atmosphere after the train finds itself caught in an avalanche and ends up stuck in the mountains, leaving the passengers and Poirot all trapped together with a dead man, who was killed the in the middle of night. Poirot then must investigate every person as everyone becomes a suspect. While the movie focuses intently on the mystery…

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Image courtesy of Warner Brothers

Review in: Just Disappointment League

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Justice League was a critical point film. After the release of Wonder Woman, Warner Brothers’ DC films found the perfect turning point to relieve themselves of some of their prior filmography gaffs. The lukewarm Man of Steel, followed by the universally panned Batman V Superman, and the identity-confused Suicide Squad all combined to give DC superhero movies the earned reputation of being inferior Marvel film clones. With the release of Wonder Woman, I honestly felt they finally began how to understand the tired formula they were ripping off. It was decently paced, I liked the character development, and the only real improvements I could offer were to lose the abused slow-mo, ditch the awful CG effects, and to improve the story and dialog writing to not require so much damned exposition. I think you can figure out the reason for including a mini-review in this review if you weren’t already…

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Thor: Ragnarok thunders its way to the top

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This November, Thor: Ragnarok thundered its way into theaters, featuring the titular God of Thunder. This version iterates with a more colorful and more funny Thor than we’ve seen in past films. Humorously styling himself as “the strongest avenger,” he struggles with the oncoming threat of the goddess of death: Hela. Played by Cate Blanchett, Hela proves to be too much for the God of Thunder after she is released from her inter-dimensional prison. This is realized when she effortlessly destroys Thor’s hammer Mjolnir in an early melee in the film. The humor and colorful set pieces were designed to homage the Thor comics of the 1980’s. This design largely worked well with the plotline of the movie, but the soundtrack felt out of place in some of the key moments of the movie. Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant song worked for the trailer, but not the climactic battle in Asgaard. The…

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New Jigsaw film fails to live up to franchise success

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Back in October, Lionsgate released the latest installment in the Saw franchise.  Saw fans were elated for the return of their favorite gory film franchise on the big screen.  It stars relatively unknown actors Matt Passmore and Callum Keith Rennie as the main characters Logan and Detective Halloran.  Tobin Bell also cameos in a few scenes in his iconic roll as John Kramer aka. Jigsaw. The film starts out in its usually predictable beginning with a bunch of people stuck in traps meant to cause horrible pain and mutilation.  This case being a metal collar attached to a chain leading to a bunch of whirling buzzsaws on a wall.  Next, a taped recording of John Kramer telling them the usual “you must give a sacrifice of blood in order to survive” and proceeds to start the trap.  The prisoners soon realize that they need to cut themselves on the saws in order to prevent their demises.  Most of them succeed…

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Susanne Bier’s “In a Better World” calls attention to international violence

On Monday, October 23, the Department of Theater and Film Studies kicked off their annual event: the International Film Series. It is an event that showcases internationally recognized films that have otherwise made their mark in the film industry. The starter of the series this year was the truth telling movie named In a Better World directed by Susanne Bier. Susanne Bier is a Danish director who is changing the way the world looks at movies. Her main focus in all of her movies, no matter what the theme, is to demonstrate using family structures that are endangered by outside forces. The first of her films that were recognized by critics and made its way to America, was Broken Hearts (2002). Soon after that, another film of hers that made its way to America and then to the New York Film Festival was Brothers (2004), which was then remade by…

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The Foreigner: Action packed chaos

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Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan go head to head in the action-packed, twisted movie, The Foreigner. Jackie Chan plays Ngoc Quan, an immigrant and British citizen from China who seeks out revenge after his teenage daughter is killed in an explosion. The movie begins with Quan picking up his daughter (played by Katie Leung) from school. Their lives seem normal and her biggest problem is getting the perfect dress for the school dance. Quan drops her off and watches her walk into the store. A couple of seconds later someone blows up the shop, injuring and killing dozens of people. Amongst the deceased is his daughter. Before moving to England, Quan’s wife and other two daughters were kidnapped and murdered by Thai pirates. She was the only family member he had left. The story comes off as a little cliché, but it takes a slightly different direction than expected. Quan…

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