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Movie Review Monday (Tuesday Edition)

Nocturnal Animals (2016) - An art gallery owner is living a miserable existence, but emotions are stirred when she begins reading a manuscript for a novel written by her ex-husband. This drama/thriller is very well crafted, directed, and acted. The film includes great performances by Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon. The score and cinematography are extraordinary and at times quite mesmerizing. On top of that, the story itself (which is actually a story within a story) is captivating, and the subtle artistic elements present throughout the film make it an even more interesting experience. Director Tom Ford seems to have made some elements of the film intentionally vague, leaving it to the viewer to infer certain parts of the story. In fact, viewers may find themselves replaying scenes in their heads to fully interpret everything that transpired. It’s an exercise that can reveal interesting meaning to the layers of stories within this film. I’d give it a 10 out of 10.
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Movie Review Monday (Tuesday Edition)

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) - Directed and co-written by Guy Ritchie, this epic fantasy/adventure film is a variation on the legendary tales surrounding Arthur Pendragon, Excalibur and Camelot. This is a fast-paced film with eye-catching special effects, lots of action, a decent cast, and Ritchie-style frenetic plot-advancing montages. Charlie Hunnam does well in the lead role, playing it with a winning, swashbuckling flair. Admittedly, certain parts of the film have more of a contemporary feel to them, and some viewers may be put off by that aspect. But the film can be an entertaining romp for viewers who don’t take it too seriously and for those in the mood for light, non-cerebral movie fun. I’d give it an 8 out of 10.
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Movie Review Monday

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) - Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) and his ragtag superhero space crew return in this second installment of the Guardians of the Galaxy saga. Adventure and mayhem abound in this action-packed and special effects extravaganza as our heroes romp across the universe helping those in need, escaping dangerous situations (which are sometimes of their own making), and dispatching relentless foes. As with its predecessor, there is quite a bit of enjoyable silliness in this film. However, some of the jokes are not as fresh and bit drawn out. Still, the film maintains a good pace, contains impressive visual effects along with a delightfully nostalgic soundtrack, and is quite the entertaining adventure overall. I’d give it an 8 out of 10.
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Movie Review Monday (Tuesday Edition)

Kong: Skull Island (2017) - Kong is back on the big screen! This time around, the story takes place in the early 1970’s when a team of scientists and soldiers are teamed up to explore the recently discovered Skull Island. Adventure and excitement ensue, and dangers are encountered along the way. The film’s plot doesn’t veer far from the simple man vs. beast premise, and the beauty-and-the-beast aspect from the original film feels a bit watered down. However, the film moves at a nice pace, and the visual effects are quite spectacular. And as far as creature features go, this one delivers. The creatures are varied, vicious, and they’ll get the heart pumping. This film has a decent cast, which includes Brie Larson. But it gets extra credit from me because, well, Tom Hiddleston. :) If you’re in the mood for some decent popcorn fare, give this one a try. I’d give it a 7 out of 10.
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Movie Review Monday

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) - In this episode of the ongoing Star Wars saga, General Leia Organa and the Resistance struggle to fend off an attack by the First Order while Rey attempts to gain Luke Skywalker’s aid for the Resistance. This is the eighth film in the series, and it did not fail to impress this long-time Star Wars fan. Its predecessor “The Force Awakens” set a new standard on how well a Star Wars film can be made. This film exceeds that bar in its writing, directing and overall production value, likely making it the best produced film in the main series thus far. It contains the action and adventure that we’ve come to expect from Star Wars films, not to mention the occasional sprinkling of humor. But it also contains some scenes that are surprisingly moving and will tug at the nostalgic heartstrings of older Star Wars fans. And even though the film has a two and a half hour run time, it is engaging from start to finish. It's a film that I'm sure most moviegoers are going to enjoy. I’d give it a 10 out of 10.

P.S. RIP, Carrie Fisher. We’ll always love you. <3
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Movie Review Monday (Tuesday Edition)

Long and busy days and a day of illness left me no time to write up a movie review this week. In lieu of a new movie review, I give you one from around this time last year. Enjoy your movie watching, everyone! :)
Movie Review Monday

The Divergent Series: Allegiant (2016) - The third installment of the Divergent series has our intrepid heroine and her small entourage discovering a new threat to the population of post-apocalyptic Chicago. I do give a lot of credit to Shailene Woodley for the remarkable job she does with the lead role. She is in that admirable category of actors that never seem to phone in their performances. And much of the set designs and special effects (which likely accounted for a sizable chunk of this film's budget) are a delight to observe. Unfortunately, with each subsequent production in this film series, the storylines seem to become more lacking for creativity. The plot points are starting to feel recycled. And while this film starts with an intriguing intro, it unfortunately devolves into the realm of absurdity. Ironically, that in itself adds an element of entertainment to the film. ;) I’d give it a 4 out of 10.
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Movie Review Monday

Tracks (2013) - It's 1977 when Robyn Davidson decides to set out on a nearly 2000-mile trek across the Australian Outback. This drama is based on a true story and stars Mia Wasikowska. It’s a story of persistence, dedication, and self-discovery. As expected, Robyn’s journey is difficult and at times painful, both physically and emotionally. The viewer follows her through the various experiences she encounters along the way, some of which are intriguing and educational. And her perseverance is inspiring. The drama aspect of this film does feel a bit toned down, which translates into a lower excitement factor for the viewer. For a story as simple as this one, it could have benefitted from a bit more emotional energy. Still, not a bad film overall. I’d give it a 7 out of 10.
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Movie Review Monday

Arrival (2016) - Upon the arrival of several mysterious spaceships across the planet, linguistics expert Louise Banks is recruited to help determine how to communicate with the visitors from outer space. Amy Adams leads the cast and puts in a remarkable performance in this sci-fi/mystery film. Throughout the film, the visual and audio effects create a somber atmosphere that is accompanied by feelings of trepidation and persistent urgency brought on by the quest to learn the aliens’ intentions. The story overall is quite cerebral, the details of which can be a challenge to follow, but in the end it weaves a very interesting tale with nice touches of human emotion. If you’re in the mood for a good sci-fi film, give this one a try. I’d give it a 9 out of 10.
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Movie Review Monday

I'm currently on vacation, and I don't have a new movie review for you this week. In lieu of a new movie review, I give you one from around this time last year. Enjoy your movie watching, everyone! :)
Movie Review Monday

Poltergeist (2015) - A family moves into a new suburban home where they quickly become the victims of sinister supernatural forces. This remake of the 1982 film makes a good case as to why Spielberg films probably shouldn’t be remade. As much as I want to assess this film on its own merits, it’s difficult to do so when the original is filled with such creativity and utter escapism. This one, by contrast, felt uninspired. Much of the storyline seemed like a series of plot devices tenuously strung together with flashy special effects. That said, there is a little gem in this film – the performance by young Kyle Catlett, who plays one of the three children in the beleaguered family. His performance surprisingly outshone those of the rest of the cast. Also, some of the special effects were fun to watch. However, all the things the film had going for it weren’t enough to make it any more than just mediocre. I'd give it a 4 out of 10.
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Movie Review Monday

Split (2016) - Some of Kevin’s multiple personalities have decided they want to abduct three young women as part of a plan to unleash an additional, more menacing personality. James McAvoy plays the lead in this thriller written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. While McAvoy gives an excellent performance, and the movie’s concept is ripe with potential, the film never feels like it achieves that potential. The thrills are hit-and-miss and the suspense that is there is a bit squandered. There is enough intrigue to keep one watching to the end. But in the end, it’s only a so-so film. I’d give it a 5 out of 10.
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