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John Wick Chapter 2: Bliss and bullets

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I periodically mention in these reviews of how tired I am of modern filmmaking and the products they output. A good majority of the films that will release this year are sequels or are a part of an established franchise, and it’s honestly becoming tiresome to just keep seeing series just going on seemingly perpetually. That being said, if future entries into the John Wick series are just as enjoyable as the first and this second film I will be discussing, then I will be willing to start an exceptions list. For those who are unfamiliar with the plot of John Wick, let me give you the backstory of John Wick’s character before the first film’s events. John Wick was an extremely successful assassin who managed to do something unheard of in his occupation: retire. John married a woman named Helen and lived happily with her until death from an…

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Justice League Dark: Bland Magic

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For a few people I knew, trying to dive into the lore of D.C. Comics without already being versed in some of its history was like diving into to an Olympic pool filled with concrete. You feel euphoric starting to fall into the material, but then your mind scatters once you hit the large chunks of lore that require prior knowledge. Having characters and histories that are as old as most of your grandparents made this a real problem for new readers; it felt like you needed to be a historian to follow some elements of D.C. plotlines. This was one of the reasons “The New 52” revamp was launched: to provide a fresh start for old and new readers alike. The New 52 wasn’t limited to the comics, and eventually became the main universe for DC animated films, such as Justice League Dark. Justice League Dark is an animated…

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Best Batman Ever?

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Who was the best Batman? Michael Keaton, Christian Bale or Ben Affleck? I think Will Arnett takes the cake as the greatest Batman ever, and “The LEGO Batman Movie” might just be the best Batman movie ever.Somehow, this animated delight manages to lovingly capture the ridiculousness of the Caped Crusader, in all his incarnations. It’s a giant, hilarious love letter to Batman that is stunning in how well it works. This LEGO form of the legendary superhero seems to capture just how ridiculous and yet captivating Batman can be. Reaching fans from past, current, and future generations. It magically seems to all come together and it just works. The LEGO take on “The Bat” weighs heavily on the fact that he is alone and longs to be loved and to replace his family that was taken from him. Yet this version works hilariously. Eventually our hero realizes that he needs…

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Hidden Figures contains a hidden gem

In history, let alone in living memory, the Space Race is something that holds strong significance. The threat of Russian dominance, nukes, The Cold War and the capability of launching technology into space served as a representation of superiority. Hidden Figures focuses on three African American women who work for NASA and the important work that surrounds them. Which happens to be crunching the numbers on the math behind putting America’s first man into space. Katharine Goble (played by Taraji P. Henson), is hired on by the Space Task Group as their “computer,” to double-check all of the teams calculations. Her arrival is unexpected and unwelcome, with her co-workers staring at her for uncomfortable periods of time, and giving her a coffee pot labeled “coloreds.” Dorothy Vaughan (played by Oscar-winning Octavia Spencer), who helps NASA’s work with IBM machines, and Mary Jackson (played by singer/songwriter Janelle Monae), the first African…

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The Asian Connection: Bank robbery vs mob slobbery

For anyone who reads my bad movie review series, it is probably easy to figure out that most of the movies I have collected for my bad movie stack are fairly older films; some older than myself. It’s not a matter of preference, as I’ll take any bad movie I can get my hands on. The most common are horror and sci-fi movies with a four digit budget, but I have irregularly found more recent movies in my dives of pawn shop movie racks.  A decent amount of them are the kind you hate yourself for watching, like Tooth Fairy 2. Last week, I found The Asian Connection, and thankfully I don’t feel terrible for watching it. The Asian Connection (2016) stars a name you can’t help but love for mediocrity. Steven Seagal stars as Gan Sirankiri, a drug lord who is learning that a lieutenants of his is untrustworthy.…

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‘Hacksaw Ridge’: By the grace of God goes he

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I love going into films blind. I had nothing but the positive hearsay of a colleague to go off of for “Hacksaw Ridge,” and I knew nothing of what it contained except for the setting of the Pacific Theatre of World War II. Going in, I remembered why I have gone to theaters less and less; having to sit through nearly 15-20 minutes worth of movie trailers, for movies I couldn’t give a toss about, gave me an irritated feeling early on. [The film will be discussed in detail from this point on. Read at your own peril.] Alleviating my irritation immediately, the film begins with two young brothers exploring a forest. They climb on top of a mass of boulders to overlook a beautiful valley, playing as boys did, albeit in a terrifying location. We then meet their father in a military cemetery, as he speaks his piece to his…

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‘Fantastic Beasts’ brings magic to 1920s New York

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Those who grew up during the first times of Harry Potter were only aware of a wizarding school—and culture—thriving in the U.K. region. Over the years (and books), author J.K. Rowling began to release more countries, specifically around Europe, who had wizarding populations. However, it wasn’t until the release of Rowling’s screenplay for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” that she touched on details of the wizarding world in North America. Rowling went into remarkable detail on Pottermore.com under the four-part series titled “History of Magic in North America.” “Fantastic Beasts” pulls long-time Harry Potter fans back in time to the heart of New York in 1926, with odd occurrences happening all around the city. The newly arrived Magizoologist (magic + zoologist) from England, Newt Scamander, played by Academy Award Winning actor Eddie Redmayne, arrives just in time to witness these happenings. Before Scamander can begin to delve into the wizard-like occurrences…

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‘Officer Downe’: Flaw and order

I think my recent deluge of B-movies has infected my theater selections because the past releases lately have included nothing that interested me or I haven’t seen already. Struggling to find something to fill the unexpected free time I had this weekend, I looked at the current releases on a whim. Much to my surprise, I found something that caught my eye, “Officer Downe.” The wordplay intrigued me, so I decided to give it a shot. “Officer Downe” takes place in the city of Los Angeles, which is dealing with an epidemic of crime. Street drugs are getting more terrifying and the criminals that are dwelling in the city are becoming so notorious and powerful that they are donning costumes. It seems bizarre, but in a region that is slowly going mad, costumed criminal lords would be relatively sane. The LAPD is overwhelmed with the saturation of criminal activity and needs…

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‘Alien vs. Ninja’: Comical ninjas vs. rubber aliens

Every time I sit down to write one of these bad movie reviews, I find myself coming up with a new analogy for the concept of my bad movie nights in general. This week, it’s being an army of faceless miners with pickaxes, picking through an infinitely towering pile of refuse. More often than not, the pile collapses and our spirits are crushed by what we found and watched. Last week, we dug up quite the film affair: an unholy matrimony of ridiculous martial arts films and campy sci-fi. It goes by the name “Alien vs. Ninja,” and it is a riot. Produced by Seiji Chiba, “Alien vs. Ninja” is the story of three ninjas from the Iga School of Ninjustu, whose adventures to protect their village has them defending against threats that are mainly terrestrial. Ninjas from the rival ninjustu school of Koga encroach on Iga territory and are summarily…

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