Josh Boren

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by Josh Boren

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by Josh Boren

 

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

What should audiences expect from a blockbuster superhero film? What should I (a big batman nerd) expect from a film promising an epic showdown between two of the most beloved comic book characters of all time? What should we (movie-going population as a whole) expect from a gigantic movie that’s main objective is setting up a larger shared universe to rival Marvel’s highly successful hit-machine? Those are questions that have many different answers, but for me it comes down to two questions, “Is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a good movie?” and “Was it entertaining?” Which the answers are
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A Critic’s Dozen: Best Films of 2015

1. Mad Max: Fury Road Fury Road is the reason we go to the cinema. A modern day Stagecoach that is no doubt likely to resurrect a lost old school style and flare of the action genre. Director George Miller gives us something that we can celebrate, that is after we catch our breath. We pick up with Max (Tom Hardy) being captured by a group of war boys and taken to the Citadel ruled by the evil monger Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). You may recognize Keays-Byrne from the first Mad Max, he played the villain Toecutter in the 1979
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Deadpool

With year after year of superhero overload, it was only a matter of time before somebody tried to flip the formula on its side and bust up a very by-the-numbers genre. Enter – Deadpool. He’s rude, crude and socially unacceptable, yet somehow this merc with a mouth finds fans pulling for him to save the day. He’s an anti-hero, and Deadpool tries its best to be the anti-superhero movie and in some ways, succeeds. It’s definitely a refreshing change of pace with a more targeted adult audience. Deadpool has enough f-bombs to match its ultra-heavy body count. Wade Wilson (Ryan
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The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight is one of those films that I suspect I will grow to love over time. It’s probably about 30 minutes too long, it’s noticeably uneven, and it’s Tarantino’s most overly-talky film to date, but yet I cannot find enough reasons to not highly recommend it. Its gratuitous violence seems a bit over the top even for Tarantino. Blood spills all over the place in this one, but it isn’t at all cartoonish violence like we saw in Kill Bill. The movie is ugly and truly “hateful”, but damn it if it isn’t one of the most entertaining
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Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens is much more than a new installment in the one of the biggest movie franchises of all time, it’s also an event of grand magnitude for hundreds of thousands of fans. You can tell director J.J. Abrams paid close attention to that fact when he brought this new installment to the big screen. This new movie wastes no time on giving rabid fans what they want and drives our nostalgia at warp speed. (Minor Spoilers to follow) We get right to it when the film opens up on the planet Jakku, where hotshot X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron
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Black Mass

There are moments in Black Mass where it seems like there’s getting ready to be a big payoff, or the film is finally going to hit on all cylinders, but when it finished I realize those moments never came.  Bland, and ultimately pretty boring Black Mass tries its best to be your typical paint-by-numbers gangster movie, but lacks the energy or charisma of classic mobster flicks. It’s a film that could’ve greatly benefited from a light dressing of cliches as opposed to being drenched in them.  It hits every mark on the mob movie cliche hit list including gratuitous language and
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Straight Outta Compton

  Biopics are a tricky thing.  If you have a compelling story based on true events, then they can really be effective.  But, if you have an actor portraying an icon it’s easy for that performance to appear as bad impersonation, distracting you from the journey.  That’s not the case with Straight Outta Compton.  The story of one of the first big rap groups N.W.A., pioneers of Gangster Rap, is not only surprisingly poignant, but it’s quality film making at a high-level. There are great performances across the board, and none of which feel like hokey imitations.  Strong turns by
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Mad Max: Fury Road

You’ve probably heard it all about Mad Max: Fury Road.  “Non-stop action thrill-ride.” “Best summer movie in years.” “Genius” “Masterpiece.”  ALL TRUE. The almost unanimous early buzz shouldn’t be seen as mere fanboy hyperbole, but serve as a ringing endorsement to get off your butt and go see this movie on the big screen. It’s really hard to find a critique of a film that is almost perfect in every way.  Fury Road is the reason we go to the cinema.  A modern day Stagecoach that is no doubt likely to resurrect a lost old school style and flare of
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Avengers: Age of Ultron

The gang’s all back together and then some as director Joss Whedon and company try to top the commercial and critical success of Marvel’s The Avengers. There’s a lot going on inside this mega follow up. New characters, all kinds of subplots to aid into Marvel phase 3 flicks, and the ante has been upped with all the major action sequences. The story is way too crowded, the battle scenes are pretty flat, yet somehow Avengers: Age of Ultron overcomes its sequel shortcomings to be an overall satisfying experience, especially for the hard core comic fans. The strength of this
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Chappie

The most frustrating thing about potential is that it generally sets our expectations so high that anyone that has shown great promise or been tagged as the next wunderkind rarely reach the apex critics and audiences everywhere anticipate them achieving. Frankly that’s not fair. But life’s not fair. The bottom line is that Neill Blomkamp has major film making chops. We saw it in District 9 and we saw flashes of it in the visually stimulating, but uneven, Elysium.  Blomkamp is back with Chappie, a cautionary tale in a familiar setting (an embattled Johannesburg, South Africa) and it’s a hodgepodge
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A Critic’s Dozen: Best Films of 2014

  1. Inherent Vice Two things stood out to me in a big way about Inherent Vice: 1) After I saw it the first time, I immediately wanted to revisit it.  2) The enchanting way it manages to achieve mystique, sadness, and absurd humor all at the same time. A lot of people have been asking, “What is Inherent Vice about?” That’s easy. It’s about America. Power. Class warfare. Hiding. Dirty hippies. Dope. Free love. The seventies. Cults. Pancakes. Charles Manson. California beach life. Boats. Nazis. Dentists. Sex. Love. Lust. Detectives. Politics. Ex-girlfriends. Loyalty. The LAPD. Mortal enemies. Dope. And
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Jupiter Ascending

Man oh man what a wild ride The Wachowski’s filmography has been so far.  With the ground-breaking blockbuster “The Matrix” and the two disappointing sequels that almost ruined it, to a psychedelic Speed Racer movie, to a move about reincarnation and love that bordered on genius, to this…”Jupiter Ascending”.  To say the least it’s been very interesting.  Their latest is another of great ambition, something the sibling filmmakers Lana and Andy never seem to be short of.  But for the many reasons it falls short, the one that stands out most is the lack of character development that causes pure
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American Sniper

From the opening moment, American Sniper is an effective war movie.  Our protagonist draws a beat on his target, a woman who could possibly be an Iraqi insurgent, then suddenly a boy appears in his cross hairs and appears to be carrying something under his clothes and walking towards a U.S. military convoy.  This sets the tone for what life in combat was like for Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper). War is hell and Chris Kyle is the trigger man stuck in the middle of fighting for his country that he feels so deeply about and the moral unease that comes
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Inherent Vice

A lot of people have been asking, “What is Inherent Vice about?” That’s easy. It’s about America. Power. Class warfare. Hiding. Dirty hippies. Dope. Free love. The seventies. Cults. Pancakes. Charles Manson. California beach life. Boats. Nazis. Dentists. Sex. Love. Lust. Detectives. Politics.  Ex-girlfriends. Loyalty. The LAPD.  Mortal enemies. Dope. And the sad empty loneliness that some people are left carrying around for years. But if Inherent Vice is truly your bag the dozens of foggy “plot” details that whiz by and then fade away like distant stoned memories won’t matter much. Don’t concern yourself so much with the story, it’s
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The Gambler

The Gambler is a peculiar movie.  It’s a movie about a compulsive gambler that never really admits that the protagonist has a problem.  It approaches the premise from an existential point of view in lieu of telling the story of an addict.  Considering the source material, the 1974 film of the same name starring James Caan, and being directed by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and written by William Monohan (The Departed) you’d think the creative team would be able to put together a sure thing.  The final product just ends up being very uneven and
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Gone Girl

Gone Girl was assuredly made for the entertainment of adult audiences everywhere. At its very core is that Hitcockcian spirit that seems to throw logic out the window and speed right past plot holes for pure movie-going pleasure. This type of film making only excels when in the hands of an expert though, and Gone Girl just happens to be made by one of the best auteurs working today – David Fincher. Fincher brings Gillian Flynn’s best selling novel about marital bliss gone awry to the big screen and wisely hired the author to adapt her own book into a
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Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler tells the story of an uber-creepy sociopath that becomes a successful “stringer” for a television news station in Los Angeles. After we first meet Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) as a petty thief, he happens upon a near horrific single car accident on the highway. Two police officers are trying to free the driver from the burning car, and instead of trying to find a way to help he just stands there watching with a peaked interest. You start to get the feeling that if there was popcorn he would have some and whether or not the person lives or
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Dumb and Dumber To

Dumb and Dumber was an instant classic comedy. Not only did it catapult the directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly to the kings of cinematic comedy for almost a decade, it proved that Jim Carrey was not a one-trick pony, showing that he had three movies in a row with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and then Dumb and Dumber that equaled box office pay dirt. The much talked about and much delayed sequel to D&D was off and on so many times that nobody was certain it would ever happen, but alas, 20 years later it has finally arrived.
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