#BlockbusterBeat

#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
girl-dragon-claire-foy

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
halloween-2018-image-jamie-lee-curtis

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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#BlockbusterBeat by Daniel Gorman Film

Kin | Jonathan & Josh Baker

September 7, 2018
Kin

From a distance, Kin looked like a pretty promising mid-budget sci-fi. But if you can’t engage in Marvel-style big budget spectacle, you better have some ideas on deck to make up for it, and unfortunately, Kin doesn’t deliver on that front. The film starts off well enough, with troubled young Eli (Myles Truitt) finding an alien weapon while scavenging for copper wiring inside an abandoned building. He hides his discovery at home, while dealing with his stern…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

Peppermint | Pierre Morel

September 7, 2018
Peppermint

Riley North’s (Jennifer Garner) retribution in Peppermint doesn’t begin with her husband and daughter being murdered by drug dealers. It begins with some other, more wealthy mom lecturing her for selling girl scout cookies in the wrong parking lot. Then Riley has to skip her own kid’s birthday party to work a closing shift at the bank (don’t banks close at 5 pm?). Only later that evening do the scary Latino dudes (one of them actually has a face tattoo that says “LOCO”)…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Daniel Gorman Film

BlacKkKlansman | Spike Lee

August 21, 2018
blackkklansman

Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman tells the story of a black police officer in 1970s Colorado who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. But Lee is also telling the story of a current America that has not grown or progressed — not really — and forcing us to recognize that the film could have been released at virtually any point in the last few years and been just as timely, just as horrifically attuned to the zeitgeist. Trayvon Martin was shot over six years ago; the NFL…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

Mile 22 | Peter Berg

August 16, 2018
Mark Wahlberg stars in MILE 22

Releasing a steady stream of vaguely jingoistic docudramas all starring Mark Wahlberg as a hero/patriot, Peter Berg has become a bit of a joke as a filmmaker over the last few years. So it’s easy to forget that, even given their fluctuating levels of overall quality, earlier Berg efforts like Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, The Kingdom, and yeah even Battleship were at least crafted superbly, from a technical standpoint; sported effectively-cast supporting ensembles; and above all featured action sequences that displayed a tight command…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

The Meg | Jon Turteltaub

August 10, 2018
The Meg

Here’s a movie about Jason Statham fighting a gigantic killer prehistoric shark. That’s all it is. The Meg spends not much time setting up its premise (lifted from Renny Harlin’s Cliffhanger), with Statham’s washed up deep-sea rescue diver being pressed back into service after an on-the-job tragedy. We’re barely 20 minutes in before he’s had his first encounter with the movie’s namesake (short for Megalodon, a thing wikipedia tells me is real but not nearly as big as this stupid movie claims).…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

Mission: Impossible – Fallout | Christopher McQuarrie

July 27, 2018
MIF

The Mission: Impossible series has gone from a gauzy star vehicle to a very referendum on said star as (to quote a character from the last movie) the “living manifestation of destiny.” The highlight of the first film was a guy hanging from the ceiling. The latest one, Fallout, is an absolutely relentless series of lengthy, extraordinary setpieces loaded with insane stunts, shock beats, masks being ripped off, last-minute reveals, double crosses, and did I mention the insane stunts?…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Lawrence Garcia Film

Unfriended: Dark Web | Stephen Susco

July 20, 2018
unf2

It could be that Stephen Susco, the first-time director of improbable horror-sequel Unfriended: Dark Web, is just a previously-undistinguished virtuoso, here aided by a team of tech wizards. More likely, it’s that the film’s text (i.e., the “dark web” of the Internet) is so generative — and the corresponding tools so under-explored in cinema — that the result is just riveting. The hacking at the outset here is its own self-contained joke, serving not just as sleek exposition, but as…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

The Equalizer 2 | Antoine Fuqua

July 20, 2018
The Equalizer 2

The Equalizer provided a perfectly serviceable delivery device for bloody violence. The 2014 film starred Denzel Washington as former C.I.A. assassin-turned-neighborhood do-gooder Robert McCall, who memorably carved up, blew up, dismembered, or otherwise mangled a dozen or so bad guys in a hardware store during the film’s climax, all guided by the mostly competent if unspectacular action hand of Washington’s longtime collaborator, Antoine Fuqua.…

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