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Category: Movie Reviews

Ben Sears' Columns 0

Ben’s Column: Jungle Cruise (2021) – Review

If you’ve seen The African Queen, or Indiana Jones, or Pirates of the Caribbean, or The Lost City of Z, that seems like as safe a place as any to start when discussing Disney’s latest live-action adventure. Because Jungle Cruise feels largely indebted to all of those films, and pulls elements from each one, but still struggles to stand on its own.

Ben Sears' Columns 0

Ben’s Column: Old (2021) – Review

If you’re one of the few remaining stalwarts of M. Night Shyamalan’s films in 2021, you probably already know if you’re going to enjoy his newest film, Old. It’s been a bumpy road for the writer-director ever since the breakout success of The Sixth Sense in 1999. Virtually every new project feels like it’s treated with reserved skepticism, given Shyamalan’s largely floundering genre exercises, and I’m sorry to report that Old does him no favors.

Ben Sears' Columns 0

Ben’s Column: Pig (2021) – Review

A funny thing happened on the way to the truffle forest: writer and director Michael Sarnoski has crafted a deep, soulful film, one that has grander ideas on its mind than what audiences may originally think, and a film that manages to use Cage in a way that few directors have been able to tap into. Cage’s best performances come in films that underplay the rage that always seems to be bubbling below the surface, and Pig is a film that uses his gravely monotone to perfection, one of the year’s best performances so far.

Ben Sears' Columns 0

Ben’s Column: America: The Motion Picture (2021) – Review

Given the seemingly arbitrary nature of the curriculum within America’s current school systems on the subject of our own history, it’s not entirely implausible to believe that America: The Motion Picture will be taken as more fact than fiction. Netflix’s first animated film is a veritable who’s who of this country’s most notable figures and founding fathers, all mashed together with no discernable logic or reason behind most of it.

Ben Sears' Columns 0

Ben’s Column: Cruella (2021) – Review

How refreshing is it to finally see a Disney live-action film with some real style to it? Far too often with their live-action remakes, the end result works as an adaptation, but fails to make a convincing argument for its own existence. Beauty and the Beast looked great but was essentially a beat-for-beat remake of the animated classic. The same goes for The Lion King and Mulan. This time around, Disney had the good sense to forego the same route with 101 Dalmatians and explore an origin story by focusing on that film’s memorable villain.

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Ben’s Column: The Killing of Two Lovers (2021) – Review

With a title like The Killing of Two Lovers, you’d be forgiven if you were to go into it expecting a more violent drama. But director, screenwriter, and editor Robert Machoian has more on his mind than surface-level passion. Namely the slow and painful disintegration of a marriage, and everyone that gets sucked into its wake. Machoian’s film uses many impressive tricks and techniques to sell the ideas he’s working towards, but the film could ultimately be polished more in its shadings of some of the secondary characters.

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Ben’s Column: Stowaway (2021) – Review

Calling Stowaway a sci-fi film feels a little disingenuous. Yes, the film is set in space and involves a voyage to Mars, but the setting feels almost perfunctory: the mission at hand is more about survival than science. Director Joe Penna, whose feature debut dealt with Mads Mikkelsen stranded in the arctic, was a solid, assured tale of man versus nature. For his follow-up, he expands the cast and jettisons them into the void of space, while still grounding his characters in reality and not resulting to formulaic plot points.

Ben Sears' Columns 0

Ben’s Column: Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) – Review

The internet can, on very rare occasions, be used as a force for good in the world. In 2017, Disney pulled the insufferable short film Olaf’s Frozen Adventure from Coco’s screenings after audiences voiced their overwhelmingly negative reactions. In 2019, Paramount re-tooled Sonic the Hedgehog after fans recoiled in horror at the reveal of the titular character’s look. And now, 4 years after its initial release, Warner Bros. has caved to its fans and released the long-fabled “Snyder cut” of Justice League.