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Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 23, 2016 1 comments
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Following a dubious big-screen debut three years prior, the fate of the entire Star Trek franchise was at risk when The Wrath of Khan opened to somewhat skeptical audiences. They needn’t have worried: Khan essentially saved Star Trek from potential doom and has gone on to become probably the most beloved of the Enterprise’s cinematic adventures. This time out, a ship full of trainees—under a familiar command crew—get more than they bargained for when they embark upon one of the most dangerous missions any of them will ever face. Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) returns to active duty only to face Khan (Ricardo Montalban), a figure from his past now consumed by unreasoning hatred. Having recently acquired a dreadful weapon, Khan is a menace not only to his old adversary but to the galaxy at large.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 09, 2016 1 comments
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Truly, right from the opening credits, Deadpool lets the audience know that it is like no other comic book movie that has come before it. First-time director Tim Miller’s visual style is undeniably bold, while the humor tackles head-on virtually every cliché of the genre… then sets it on fire and pees it out. After the title character’s big-screen debut in the misfire X-Men Origins: Wolverine seven years ago, a complete overhaul was in order. The cinematic Deadpool is now a vastly more accurate embodiment of his persona from the page: irreverent, ruthless, yet possessing at least a little gold in that self-repairing heart.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 15, 2016 2 comments
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I’ve seen some bad Star Wars movies and, well, The Force Awakens sure ain’t one of them. Yes, the plot is full of wild coincidences, implausible developments, and groan-inducing character moments. Worst of all, the events and even specific locations sometimes follow well-worn aspects of the classic canon a bit too closely. But these sins perhaps we can and should forgive. Filmmaker J.J. Abrams is a professed Star Wars fanatic, and his love and respect for the material have clearly guided this first new film since creator George Lucas divested himself of the fabled fantasy franchise.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 01, 2016 0 comments
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Ever wonder what would happen if the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs missed Earth instead, enabling our prehistoric pals to evolve into the dominant animals on the planet, rather than man? Regardless of your answer, here’s The Good Dinosaur, a rare misfire from the esteemed Pixar gang. While we on the sofa are still wrestling with the ramifications of this bizarre setup, we’re introduced to a family of dino farmers: no, seriously, a pack of apatosauruses that harvests corn and plows the field with their blunt heads.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 17, 2016 3 comments
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After an acclaimed reboot that successfully shed the sillier trappings of the long-running James Bond franchise, the creators of the recent Spectre have now curiously chosen to embrace the clunky clichés and cartoon villains not only of the 007 canon but seemingly every thriller of the past decade. Big Brother has arrived! It’s the death of privacy! “We must stop this doomful technology before it goes online, or it will be too late!” (Not an actual quote, but you get the idea.)
Chris Chiarella Posted: May 20, 2016 1 comments
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We often live in a locked-down world of dread these days, especially when the subject of the World Trade Center arises. But in the summer of 1974, one week before his 25th birthday, Philippe Petit made headlines with a self-propelled trip between the rooftops of the Twin Towers, and it has become a modern legend almost too daring to be believed. Driven by an all-consuming passion for his wire-walking art and unable to resist the majestic pull of those magnificent skyscrapers since first learning of their construction, Philippe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) truly risked everything to fulfill his dream.
Chris Chiarella Posted: May 13, 2016 1 comments
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Andy Weir’s bestselling novel The Martian was justly lauded for its clever use of hard science facts to tell a thrilling yet believable tale of science fiction. Of course, the characters needed to be compelling as well if this bold survival epic was to work, and on screen as well as on the page, the futuristic drama is a smashing success. We begin a couple of decades from now as a manned Mars expedition is cut short due to a violent storm on the surface of the Red Planet.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 29, 2016 1 comments
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When a government strike against the Mexican drug cartel on American soil proves fruitful but costly, a dedicated FBI field agent (Emily Blunt) joins an interagency task force to help bring the men responsible to justice. She quickly learns, however, that her new colleagues have a disturbing tendency to bend or break the rules, or even write their own. They’re an effective bunch, albeit mysteriously motivated. The dangerous transport of a high-value prisoner to the U.S. yields valuable information, including the whereabouts of a crucial cartel tunnel under the border.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 22, 2016 0 comments
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As if their world-saving missions weren’t hard enough already, the entire Impossible Mission Force is shut down by an overzealous CIA director, and the IMF’s best agent, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), is now an international fugitive. Of course, those setbacks don’t stop him from continuing his search for the Syndicate. The Syndicate is ruthless, frighteningly effective, and worst of all, the CIA refuses to believe that it even exists, so the pursuit is uphill all the way.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 25, 2016 11 comments
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Truman Capote’s career-defining “nonfiction novel” In Cold Blood recounted with fastidious nuance a violent crime that shocked America. Absent Capote’s masterful prose, the movie adaptation gives us a precise chronicle of the events with laudable authenticity. But under the inspired guidance of director/screenwriter Richard Brooks, the film goes beyond rote police procedural, introducing us to killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickock as a couple of troubled, down-on-their-luck ex-cons.

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