REVIEW: Kong: Skull Island

Image: Warner Bros.

Chris Luckett

There were many things working against Kong: Skull Island, but the biggest was the simple fact it’s the fourth telling of an incredibly iconic story. Does the world really need another telling of King Kong? Particularly just a dozen years after Peter Jackson already reintroduced the mammoth monkey to the CGI generation, is there anything new to be done with the gigantic gorilla?

Absolutely, it turns out. The truly reimagined Kong: Skull Island somehow finds a whole new way to tell a story most already know too well, subverting almost each expectation in turn and breathing new life into Merian C. Cooper’s behemoth creation.

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REVIEW: The Hateful Eight

Photo: The Weinstein Company

Photo: The Weinstein Company

Chris Luckett

The ‘90s birthed the careers of a generation of immensely skilled directors. And for whatever reason, when it’s come time for them to make their eighth or ninth movies, each director has repackaged earlier movies of theirs into new originals. Moreover, each of these “victory lap” movies usually have been amazing works of art in their own right, despite covering established territory.

Take David Fincher’s The Social Network. Or Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Even Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises was an incredibly strong film on Nolan’s CV, despite being his third Batman movie. The Hateful Eight is the ninth movie directed by Quentin Tarantino (or eighth, if you count the Kill Bills as one film, like Tarantino does) and it’s a wonderful mash-up of earlier works that holds its own against its brethren. Continue reading

REVIEW: The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Chris Luckett

Cinema has a long, storied history of computers running amok. From 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner to the Terminator and Matrix series, intelligent machines have become the new evolution of Frankenstein’s Monster.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron appears on the surface to be yet another superhero juggernaut, but what separates it from its Marvel brethren — and what elevates it above most of them — is that the villain isn’t a malevolent alien or a possessed scientist, but an artificially intelligent monster of our heroes’ own creation. Even Earth’s mightiest heroes aren’t invulnerable to hubris.

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REVIEW: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Chris Luckett

The first Captain America movie, with its ridiculous villain, rushed CGI, saccharine optimism, and pervasive Americanism, is the worst movie Marvel Studios has made in the six years since launching with 2008’s Iron Man. (The character was given some chance to grow in The Avengers, having to grapple with losing everyone he cared about, being a man out of time, and going from being one government’s pawn to another’s.) In contrast, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the movie the superhuman character deserves.  Continue reading

REVIEW: RoboCop (2014)

Photo: Columbia Pictures

Photo: Columbia Pictures

Chris Luckett

The 1980s are popular again at the movies, especially when it comes to remakes. (This weekend alone, three of the four new wide releases are remakes of ‘80s movies.) After having exhausted the catalogue of ‘80s horror movies to remake a few years ago, studios have been shifting the focus to remaking ‘80s action movies, like Clash of the Titans or Red Dawn. Now comes RoboCop, a remake that manages to be close to the original’s quality while not being afraid to deviate from its origins.

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