Blockbuster Beat

Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

A Quiet Place | John Krasinski

April 6, 2018
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The opening of of A Quiet Place leaves you primed for an arthouse-inflected genre film, like something A24 would release, or that Alex Garland might direct. Shot with moody lighting and Malick-y closeups, a family silently raid an abandoned pharmacy, on what we’re informed is “Day 82” of something. All the actors sign their dialogue, and their big round eyes cringe at the slightest sound. But just as you start to worry that the whole film might be like this, all somber and serious, a little kid gets eaten by…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

Pacific Rim: Uprising | Steven S. DeKnight

March 22, 2018
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Picking up 10 years after the events of Pacific Rim, Pacific Rim: Uprising follows Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost from the first film, as he does that thing where he finally confronts and accepts his destiny and his father’s legacy by doing the same thing the old man did, which in this case means saving the world from gigantic invading alien monsters by punching them with a giant robot. And that’s pretty much it. Uprising rockets through the bare minimum…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

Unsane | Steven Soderbergh

March 22, 2018
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Unsane is a nifty little movie, a cheeky, intelligent thriller shot in secret on an iPhone and slipped into theaters in the space of a few months. That’s not to say that it’s anything other than another of Steven Soderbergh’s genre-infused larks. Claire Foy stars as Sawyer Valentini, a troubled young woman who finds herself involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, where she discovers that one of the nurses is the creep (Joshua Leonard) who previously stalked and threatened her. Or is it all…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

Tomb Raider | Roar Uthaug

March 15, 2018
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What’s the use of rebooting a successful video game franchise if you can’t reboot the mediocre film series that it spawned? That appears to be the motivation behind the new Tomb Raider, which resembles nothing so much as a perfunctory early 2000s action programmer except that it has much nicer special effects. Alicia Vikander replaces Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, heiress to an incredible fortune and daughter of Lord Richard (Dominic West), who disappeared on a treasure hunt seven years ago. When Croft discovers…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

A Wrinkle in Time | Ava DuVernay

March 9, 2018
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Madeline L’Engle’s beloved A Wrinkle In Time is, if you haven’t read it lately, short on incident and quite long on dialogue and metaphysics. L’Engle used her early iteration of YA fantasy as a foundation for a treatise on spirituality and self-actualization aimed at kids. So there’s a lot to root for with Disney handing a black female filmmaker an enormous budget for a movie version. Sadly, Ava DuVernay’s adaptation mostly replaces the book’s broad ideas with a stale “believe in…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

Death Wish | Eli Roth

March 2, 2018
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There’s probably a good remake to be made of 1974’s Death Wish, a seminal bit of vigilante-themed violence porn from the late, great sleaze-peddler Michael Winner. The story of a wealthy white man (Charles Bronson in the original, Bruce Willis here) who takes the law into his own hands after a brutal crime committed against his wife and daughter would certainly take on a host of complicated dimensions in a climate of mass shootings, economic inequality, white/male privilege, sexual assault, and…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

Annihilation | Alex Garland

February 22, 2018
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Annihilation practically sits up and begs to be regarded as high-minded genre cinema. But really, it’s a thuddingly literal handful of barely engaged ideas and dangling plot threads standing in for conceptual and narrative ambiguity. Extremely loosely based on a novel by Jeff VanderMeer, writer/director Alex Garland’s film streamlines a work of really haunting interiority and curiosity into a mostly straightforward soldiers-meet-monsters exercise, substituting melancholy uncertainty and a genuine sense of awe in the face of the inexplicable with expository backstory and…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

Black Panther | Ryan Coogler

February 16, 2018
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Black Panther arrives with a lot of fanfare; it’s sure to generate discussion about its status as a genuinely progressive piece of representation, and it should — but it’s also a seriously entertaining pop confection, not-infrequently visually arresting, idiosyncratic, and loaded with engaged performances from a stacked cast. It has actual dramatic stakes, which are not usually encountered in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And it snowballs into possibly the most satisfying crowd-pleaser the franchise has managed so far. The pop bliss on display isn’t…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

Star Wars: The Last Jedi | Rian Johnson

December 12, 2017
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Perhaps in answer to fans who complained that The Force Awakens was just a collection of rehashed elements and nostalgia with a shiny paint job, Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, the might-be Empire Strikes Back of this new trilogy, is the most unusual and stealthily satisfying Star Wars-anything since at least 1983. It similarly opens on a breathless battle that could serve as a climax to any of these entries, but Empire‘s perfect romantic adventure has been replaced by a ramshackle narrative…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

The Foreigner | Martin Campbell

October 13, 2017
The Foreigner

The Foreigner has the same elements as any number of generic procedurals: innocent victims are killed in a terrorist bomb blast, law enforcement officers track down leads and analyze forensics, and a crusading politician has his career put on the line. What none of these people (indeed, maybe not even the audience watching them) have reckoned with is that one of the victims’ fathers in all this mess is an ex-Viet Cong sapper played by Jackie Chan—and he is pissed.…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

Blade Runner 2049 | Denis Villeneuve

October 6, 2017
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It’s worth remembering that, at the time of its 1982 initial release, nobody really knew what to make of, or much cared for, Blade Runner. Ridley Scott’s one-time sci-fi flop (now duly reclaimed and canonized, and available in 5 different cuts) was deliberately meandering, opaque, and portentous—as well as drop dead gorgeous, a hypnotic drone, and a fabulous technical showcase (even in its sort of nascent original theatrical form). Blade Runner 2049 is basically all of these things, but often to a much greater degree.…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

mother! | Darren Aronofsky

September 15, 2017
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It’s difficult to argue that Darren Aronofsky’s films are poorly executed, at least on a formal level; his largely allegorical works are often manic, intense, portentous, and meticulously designed, it’s just that they’re also so sophomorically pleased with themselves, rarely approaching their allegories from a perspective of any real insight. Requiem for a Dream is a whirlwind of a viewing experience, but it boils down to little more than a rote (and relatively misogynistic) cautionary tale about drug abuse.…

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