REVIEW: Clock (2023)

Dianna Agron in CLOCK — PHOTO: 20th Digital Studio / Hulu / Disney+.

Directed by Alexis Jacknow — Screenplay by Alexis Jacknow.

Alexis Jacknow’s Clock follows Ella (played by Dianna Agron), a woman constantly questioned for not wanting children of her own, as she decides to check herself into a clinical trial for cognitive therapy that could kickstart her biological clock. However, after having undergone behavioral therapy, Ella starts having these terrifying visions that interrupt her daily life and shake her to her core.

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REVIEW: Ghosted (2023)

Ana de Armas and Chris Evans in “Ghosted,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

Directed by Dexter Fletcher — Screenplay by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers.

A romantic action-comedy from the director of Rocketman, with a screenplay from the writers of Deadpool and Spider-Man: No Way Home, and starring Captain America himself and the Oscar-nominated star of Blonde and Knives Out (who, notably, proved her action chops with a memorable appearance in the James Bond flick No Time to Die) sure sounds like a winning combination. Apple TV+’s Ghosted is a film with so much marketable talent that it has several major cameos that almost feel crammed in there. However, even though this is a project that has attracted a lot of talent, Ghosted is a largely ineffective romantic action comedy where neither the romantic, action, nor comedic elements work all that well. 

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REVIEW: Renfield (2023)

Nicolas Cage as Count Dracula in Chris McKay’s RENFIELD — PHOTO: Universal Pictures.

Directed by Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie) — Screenplay by Ryan Ridley — Story by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead).

In Chris McKay’s Renfield, we follow R. M. Renfield (played by Nicholas Hoult) who, a long, long time ago, became the most trusted servant of Count Dracula (played by Nicolas Cage) and thus was granted immortality and the ability to be super powerful if he eats bugs. However, in the present day, Renfield has grown tired of serving his abusive master. In an attempt to find a way to deal with these feelings of exhaustion and depression, Renfield has sought out a self-help group for people in co-dependent relationships. And because he still needs to feed his master, Renfield has decided that he should only feed Dracula the abusive partners that the people in his self-help group complain about. Meanwhile, Renfield is also trying to build a life for himself without considering his master’s needs. When Renfield inadvertently comes into the crosshairs of a significant crime family, Dracula is made aware of his servant’s betrayal and decides to come out of hiding.

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REVIEW: Evil Dead Rise (2023)

Alyssa Sutherland’s Ellie in Deadite-form in EVIL DEAD RISE — PHOTO: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Directed by Lee Cronin — Screenplay by Lee Cronin.

Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead is one of my favorite horror franchises out there. I grew up watching Army of Darkness over and over again. This is a storied franchise capable of going both extremely gory and very zany. Yet in spite of the film series having been rebooted in 2013 by Fede Alvarez, it took another ten years for another Evil Dead film to come out (the franchise did continue as a relatively short-lived television series, though). Now, 30 years after the theatrical release of Army of Darkness and 10 years after the theatrical release of Alvarez’s Evil Dead, Irish writer-director Lee Cronin has been chosen to bring the deadites and the Book of the Dead into this decade, and he has done a brilliant job. Evil Dead Rise is a terrific continuation of the cult favorite franchise. Yes, it is indeed groovy. 

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REVIEW: The Mandalorian – Season Three (2023)

Lizzo and Jack Black in THE MANDALORIAN in THE MANDALORIAN, exclusively on Disney+. — PHOTO: Lucasfilm / Disney+.

Series Created by Jon Favreau — All Episodes Available on Disney+ Now.

To a certain extent, The Mandalorian was once the kind of show that united the Star Wars fanbase after the divisive sequel trilogy. However, the show that spun off from the excellent second season of the show — The Book of Boba Fett — was not only uneven, it also undid the very end of The Mandalorian season two through these episodes that were always more episodes of The Mandalorian than The Book of Boba Fett, even though they were sandwiched into the latter show. Since then, live-action Star Wars on Disney+ has featured the very satisfying but safe nostalgic Obi-Wan Kenobi show, as well as the outstanding course-correcting dark and mature Star Wars series Andor. It was always going to be hard for this third season to live up to Andor, but what is really frustrating is that it doesn’t even live up to its own previous seasons. The third season of The Mandalorian is a little bit of a disappointment.

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REVIEW: Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

(L-R) Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chris Pine, and Michelle Rodriguez in DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES — PHOTO: Paramount Pictures.

Directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (Game Night) — Screenplay/Story by Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Michael Gilio, and Chris McKay.

It was only a matter of time before Hollywood was going to give Dungeons and Dragons another try as a major motion picture given the massive success of Stranger Things, which, I feel, has helped to popularize the tabletop role-playing game yet again. That’s right, I do remember watching the woeful 2000s Courtney Solomon film Dungeons and Dragons a couple of times way back when (it’s crazy to think that The Fellowship of the Ring was released only a single year later). The 2000s D&D film is as bad as its reputation would have you believe, but it does have Jeremy Irons and Marlon Wayans, so I guess that’s something. The difference between the film from 2000 and this year’s Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves from John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein is night and day. Honor Among Thieves genuinely is a great time at the movies. 

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10th I’m Jeffrey Rex Awards – 2022 – TV & Misc. Awards

With my best television shows of 2022-list having now been released, it’s time to stop delaying these awards posts. Just like the last few years, I’m splitting up my awards into two parts. This post — the first part — celebrates the best in television, superhero storytelling, gaming, and in music. The film awards will be revealed in an upcoming post, but, for now, we’ve got a lot of great stuff to get to. So, let’s do that!

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REVIEW: John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

Keanu Reeves as John Wick and Donnie Yen as Caine in John Wick 4. — PHOTO: Murray Close/Lionsgate.

Directed by Chad Stahelski — Screenplay by Shay Hatten and Michael Finch.

A lot has happened since Chad Stahelski and David Leitch took a Derek Kolstad script with Keanu Reeves attached and successfully revitalized the action genre with an emotional storyline and kick-ass, high-octane action and stunt work. Since then Stahelski’s sequels have consistently upped the ante and topped their own action sequences from chapter to chapter. New locations were revealed, and the world-building just kept on growing eventually introducing everything from a gun sommelier to an Elder who you can only hope to confront in the desert. The films have gone from its gun-fu action and then added in vehicular action and sword fights. With John Wick: Chapter 4, which is the first film in the series not to be written by Derek Kolstad, Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves have once again topped themselves with an incredibly accomplished action epic that is both inventive and almost like a greatest hits for the entire franchise. 

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REVIEW: Scream VI (2023)

Sam Carpenter (right, played by Melissa Barrera) surrounded by Ghostface killer costumes in SCREAM VI — PHOTO: Paramount Pictures.

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett — Screenplay by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick.

The latest film in my favorite horror film franchise, Scream VI, was released late in my region, so even before I sat down to watch it, it was already a massive success at the box office. It is the sixth film in the series, which also includes a television series, and it is thus the kind of continuation that may make cynics compare it to the horror franchise trend that Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson (the original creators of Scream) lampooned in the opening of Scream 4. In that film, characters discuss how, by films 6 and 7, the Stab film series (the in-universe film series based on the events of Scream) has run out of steam. That is a real possibility for any franchise, whether horror or not, once it gets big enough. It can become the same movie over and over again, and it may end up in the difficult cycle of having to top itself again and again. In the hands of Radio Silence (the directing duo of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett), the franchise was rebooted in a clever way that honored the legacy of the franchise with 2022’s Scream. Only a single year after that film was released, Radio Silence has already put out a sequel. In spite of an inventive new location, Scream VI doesn’t ever feel as clever or fresh as the best films in the series, but it is still a solid slasher sequel that should satisfy long-time fans. Thankfully, the franchise doesn’t feel as stale as one might’ve feared at this point. The old tricks still work, even if they aren’t as fresh or sharply defined as they once were. 

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REVIEW: Boston Strangler (2023)

Keira Knightley in Matt Ruskin’s BOSTON STRANGLER — PHOTO: 20th Century Studios.

Directed by Matt Ruskin — Screenplay by Matt Ruskin.

Boston Strangler is based on the true story of the investigation into the 1960s serial killer known as the ‘Boston Strangler.’ The film primarily follows Boston Record American reporters Loretta McLaughlin (played by Keira Knightley) and Jean Cole (played by Carrie Coon) as they try to investigate the story and break through small cracks in their profession’s glass ceiling.

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