Movie review Archive

War for the Planet of the Apes

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August 11, 2017 Vic Thiessen

It began with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011, followed three years later by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: the first two films of a trilogy based on the successful Planet of the Apes film series of the ’60s and ’70s. The original classic, from 1968, starred Charlton Heston as an astronaut who ends up on a planet where apes are the dominant species and where humans, who can’t talk, are treated like animals. We eventually learn that the astronaut has returned to a future Earth. The new trilogy provides its own explanations for how […]

Dunkirk

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August 4, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Cinematic takes on World War II seem more popular than ever. Recent films have traced events from the Holocaust (Ida, Denial, The Zookeepers Wife), demonstrated the devastating results of the cruelty of Soviet soldiers (The Innocents), portrayed heroes (Hacksaw Ridge, the upcoming Darkest Night about Churchill), or focused on events (Pegasus Bridge). Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk takes us into one extended moment where the will of the English (and French) is pitted against the formidable power of the German military. Surrender or annihilation of the 400,000 British and French troops surrounded by German forces seem like the only possible outcomes. They […]

The Big Sick

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July 28, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

If there is a movie genre that could use an extreme makeover these days, it’s the romantic comedy. Sure, the formula of strangers meet, strangers fall in love, strangers grow apart, and strangers get back together is a tried-and-true one. Throw in a few one-liners, a couple of gags, and a happy ending, and you have a mediocre, albeit watchable, date night at home. Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon co-wrote this new rom-com, based on the eventful true story of their relationship. Thankfully, The Big Sick just elevated the genre. Pakistani-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife […]

Spider-Man: Homecoming

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July 21, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review by Michelle Sinclair How many times can you sit through a reboot of the same superhero story and still be entertained, even moved? I had thought I was at my limit for Spider-Man movies, but after a little taste of Tom Holland’s joyous teenage web crawler in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, I knew I’d want to see what he could do in his own movie. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Holland—and the filmmakers around him–don’t disappoint. Peter Parker wants to stop big crimes and be a part of the Avengers so badly and yet Robert Downey Jr’s Tony […]

Megan Leavey

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July 10, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Megan Leavey, based on a true story, spins a tale in mostly predictable ways while regularly grabbing your emotions and spiking your adrenaline. Megan, whose best friend died of an overdose, is stuck in the guilt of having survived, and the trauma of loss. She fights constantly with her mother, who never seems to understand. Seemingly bereft of options, Megan enlists in the Marines. She makes this multiyear commitment just to get away from her life as it is. If we were to consider the dogs in this film as a metaphor for our expectation and treatment of human soldiers, […]

Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War

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June 23, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

It sometimes seems that there’s never an end to the horrifying things humanity will do to one another. Stories like the ones told in Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War offer an antidote to the toxicity, proving ordinary people have done—and we hope will continue to do—extraordinary things in defiance of hate. Periodically, they returned home to children who were growing up without them. In this Ken Burns documentary (released last fall and recently made available on Netflix), Tom Hanks and Marina Goldman narrate the voices of an American Unitarian minister and his wife who left their small children behind […]

Wonder Woman

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June 16, 2017 Vic Thiessen

Hailed by critics and educators as a groundbreaking feminist superhero film, Wonder Woman has also captured the attention of millions of viewers around the globe, becoming by far the biggest blockbuster of the year. But behind the acclaim lie questions that few people are asking, questions that may come to haunt us as a society as the superhero genre continues to capture the imaginations of today’s younger generations. For much of the film there is little evidence of Diana’s awareness of the fact that she is trying to achieve her noble antiwar ends through horrifically violent means. This is not […]

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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May 26, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

It’s official: I’m a sucker. I convinced myself that, after watching the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it would be an above-average comic-book-themed movie. I didn’t think it would be a film classic like Citizen Kane, but I thought perhaps it could be the Citizen Kane of movies based on Marvel Comics. It could also just be good-guy-fights-bad-guy , things explode, good guy wins. And I’ll be a sucker again. After all, the first Guardians of the Galaxy showed promise in establishing a hodgepodge of outcasts who band together, earn each other’s trust, and form a semblance […]

Their Finest

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May 12, 2017 Vic Thiessen

As filmgoers await Christopher Nolan’s probable blockbuster Dunkirk, coming in July, here is a quiet, humorous British drama that approaches the massive 1940 military evacuation from a very different angle, one focusing on the role of women in Great Britain during World War II. Most impressive was the subtle way Their Finest offers a look at how the role of women in the workforce changed during World War II. Their Finest also draws attention to the role of women in filmmaking. Despite all the advances in gender equality (and far too much remains to be done), women have had a […]

Born in China

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April 28, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

If the Academy Award winners were based on cuteness, Born in China would be the runaway winner for best picture, and Mei Mei the baby panda would pretty much win every other category. The latest Earth Day release from Disneynature revels in the cuteness factor of its baby panda, snow leopards, and golden snub-nosed monkeys as they learn to live and survive in the vast China ecosystem. But cuteness only goes so far in life. People eventually yearn for substance, and that bodes true for Born in China. As with its Earth Day documentary predecessors, Disney sacrifices story in favor […]