#BlockbusterBeat

#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

Us | Jordan Peele

March 21, 2019
Us

Us begins with a sincerely spooky prologue taking place in 1986, when young Addy wanders away from her bickering parents at the Santa Cruz boardwalk and encounters what appears to be her own smirking, scary double, an experience that apparently leaves her traumatized. Cut to the present, and adult Addy (Lupita Nyong’o) and her husband (Winston Duke) and two children (Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex) return to their summer home near that same beach. Even while Addy feels constantly on edge…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

Captain Marvel | Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck

March 8, 2019
marvel

Like Black Panther before it, the representational bona-fides of Captain Marvel, the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe, entry have been at the forefront of its marketing and will assuredly be a prominent feature of future discussion. That this is the first female-fronted installment, after 11 years and 20+ films, is certainly noteworthy. Unfortunately, the film isn’t particularly distinctive beyond that. …

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#BlockbusterBeat by Daniel Gorman Film

Greta | Neil Jordan

March 8, 2019
greta

We’re a long ways away from when directors like Allan Dwan and Joseph H. Lewis could pack an absurd amount of plot into 70-minute features; even rom-coms and straight-to-dvd action flicks today clock in at over two hours (to say nothing of the glut of extremely long superhero epics and prestige dramas). Neil Jordan’s Greta, then, is praiseworthy for its narrative compactness, as it moves through its story swiftly and concisely. Jordan sets the plot in motion and establishes three main characters during the…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

Glass | M. Night Shyamalan

January 17, 2019
glass

There’s a lengthy, terrific scene in Glass, in which the protagonists — three people with extraordinary abilities — are confronted both by each other and by a psychologist who is determined to prove to them that they aren’t superheroes, that they’re merely insane.…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

Aquaman | James Wan

December 21, 2018
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Imagine a script development meeting where everyone involved in making Aquaman sat down to solve one all-important question: “How do we make Aquaman cool?” Now imagine if the answer was, “What if we don’t?” After the DC comics cinematic universe failed to take off as confidently as Marvel’s, Aquaman seemed doomed to failure.…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

Bumblebee | Travis Knight

December 20, 2018
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It’s kind of hard to imagine that the multi-billion-dollar Transformers franchise has never previously leaned hard on nostalgia for the beloved ’80s toys and cartoon series that inspired it. Michael Bay’s films — all five of them — are anxious corporate cacophony; expensive commercials for themselves, sure, but they’re more about maximalist image-making and pop plasticity than any actual affection for the source, which seems strange given the fealty audiences have shown they have for this sort of thing.…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Lawrence Garcia Film

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

December 20, 2018
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Tired of superhero origin stories? Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is here to fix that. The film’s nominal hero is Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who’s bitten one day by a radioactive spider and, well, you know the rest. Or at least you think you do. Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, this…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

Creed II | Steven Caple Jr.

November 21, 2018
C2_08795_RC
Michael B. Jordan stars as Adonis Creed and Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in 
CREED II, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures film.
Credit: Barry Wetcher / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures
© 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Whereas 2015’s Creed transcends its station as essentially the seventh Rocky due in large part to director Ryan Coogler’s reliance on his actors’ emotional intelligence, and his ability to balance character nuance and broad narrative strokes, Creed II resembles not much more than a generic Rocky sequel. Coogler’s out, and new director Steven Caple Jr. abandons the complex aspirational working class perspective that defined the first Creed (and the original Rocky) in favor of mounting yet another bland sports story about male pride redeemed and women standing by and worrying.…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

Widows | Steve McQueen

November 16, 2018
Widows

After celebrated prestige pictures like Shame and 12 Years a Slave, you’d be forgiven for expecting something less disreputable from Steve McQueen than Widows. But McQueen’s normal tendencies toward making “important” work (not to mention his gorgeous, tactile images) add essential texture to what’s basically a rambunctious exploitation movie dressed up in classier clothing. The action kicks off after Harry (Liam Neeson) and his thief club get blown up by the cops.…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

The Girl in the Spider’s Web | Fede Álvarez

November 9, 2018
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David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was less about the mystery of a serial killer picking off women, more about investigating its lead character, Lisbeth Salander. Nearly a complete enigma, Salander nevertheless served as a nodal point for Fincher’s obsession with digital/analog contrasts and his penchant for leaning into pulp tropes with a knowing, pandering smirk.…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Daniel Gorman Film

Halloween | David Gordon Green

October 25, 2018
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Whatever its flaws (and they are myriad), director David Gordon Green’s Halloween is certainly a good looking film: Cinematographer Michael Simmonds mimics John Carpenter’s 1978 original through subtle use of an autumnal palette, and by allowing slightly overcast and gray skies to appear without excessive color correction. Nighttime scenes have an almost chiaroscuro effect here — large swaths of black are punctuated, jarringly, by car headlights and flashing police sirens. The effect creates a pleasing contrast between warm yellows and cold…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

The Predator | Shane Black

September 14, 2018
THE PREDATOR

The stripped-down premise and formal exactitude of John McTiernan’s 1987 Predator are precisely not present in Shane Black’s The Predator, the latest attempt to drag-out and elaborate on a franchise that shouldn’t be burdened by much more than ‘scary monster kills people.’ This new installment collapses under the weight of four separate groups of characters whose plot strands strain to intertwine before the show can get rolling — and what’s worse, Black’s film bears all the hallmarks…

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