New Releases

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)
Good Thing the Men Telling This Tale Are Alive

Iíve spoken favorably about all of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, despite the fact that each new chapter would be more needlessly convoluted than the last. With the newest chapter, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, I will once again speak favorably, but this time it isnít just for having all the elements weíve come to expect, such as engaging characters, swashbuckling, elaborate stunts, and incredible special effects.
The Dangers of Playing God

Ridley Scott has directed three films in the Alien franchise. That in and of itself isnít a great achievement. The greatness can be found in the unique ways he told the filmsí respective stories. 1979ís Alien was, on a purely conceptual level, a B monster movie, and yet Scott wisely avoided a campy approach; he took the material seriously, putting real effort into art direction, casting, set design, and pacing. The result is what many, myself included, consider one of the scariest movies ever made.
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Ritchie's Arthurian Mess

There are cases where directors show how multifaceted they are by stepping outside their comfort zones, not only in terms of the stories they choose to tell but also in terms of how they go about telling them. Think of Wes Craven with Music of the Heart, or Jerry Zucker with Ghost, or Ridley Scott, whose Alien is no more like The Duellists than American Gangster is like A Good Year.
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Another Slice of '80s-Style Cheese

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 takes everything that was disappointing about its 2014 predecessor and shamelessly does it all over again. Why this surprises me, Iím not sure; the original earned not only critical acclaim but also over $700 million worldwide, so of course writer/director James Gunn would want his sequel to give audiences more of the same.
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Knowing a Good Story When You Hear One

Bill Condonís live-action remake of Disneyís animated classic Beauty and the Beast is such a wonderful experience, so much so that I think Iíve figured out once and for all why remakes have existed pretty much as long as movies have. It has nothing to do with running out of story ideas, despite what the small-minded cynics have been saying for decades; it works in much the same way as repeatedly telling the same bedtime story to children, the demand being so great because they know a good story when they hear one and long for its familiarity.
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An Ape at War

Much has been made of the consensus, strengthened over the decades, that the original 1950s version of Godzilla symbolized the horrors of nuclear war. If weíre to take this at face value, then it shouldnít be too hard to see the supposed intention of this yearís Kong: Skull Island, namely to serve as a metaphor for American involvement in the Vietnam War.
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The X-Man That Got an R

Logan is the second film of the X-Men series to receive an R rating, and the first involving characters introduced in Bryan Singerís original 2000 film. Rest assured that it lives up to it; aside from containing a great deal more language, itís quite noticeably more violent and gory, the title character using the knives in his hands to graphically sever limbs and heads.
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The Horror of Race Relations

Most horror movies are merely a sequence of events, a clothesline on which to hang pop-out scares, tense build-ups, gore effects, death scenes, or some combination of all of the above. Get Out is one of the rare horror movies that doesnít leave it at the level of a technical exercise, thatís actually about something.
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Assembling Another Disappointment

I donít know at what point an hour and a half of near constant hyperactivity suddenly qualified as storytelling, especially in regards to family films. But whenever it happened, the makers of 2014ís The Lego Movie, and now those of 2017ís The Lego Batman Movie, have hopped onto that bandwagon and are milking it for everything itís worth.
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James Baldwin in His Own Words

Raoul Peckís documentary I Am Not Your Negro, which has secured an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature, is said to be based on an unfinished James Baldwin manuscript, namely for Remember This House, a memoir in which he was to have reminisced about his relationships with slain civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers.
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From The Movie Vault Archives


Labyrinth (1986)
Henson's Puzzling Coming-of-Age Story

In 1982, Jim Henson made The Dark Crystal, a film brought to life with puppetry and yet was distant from the fun, lighthearted innocence of his previous Muppet films and TV shows. Now he has made Labyrinth, and while it once again relies on puppets that look and sound nothing like their Muppet cousins, it relies a lot on very Muppet-like moments of levity, from slapstick physicality to witty bits of dialogue, the latter undoubtedly because of a screenplay by Monty Python alum Terry Jones.
Good Thing the Men Telling This Tale Are Alive
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The Dangers of Playing God
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Ritchie's Arthurian Mess
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Another Slice of '80s-Style Cheese
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Knowing a Good Story When You Hear One
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An Ape at War
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The X-Man That Got an R
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The Horror of Race Relations
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Assembling Another Disappointment
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James Baldwin in His Own Words
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Henson's Puzzling Coming-of-Age Story
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This Is Not a Muppet Movie
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The Tagline Is Absolutely Correct
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So Simple, It's Scary
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All Wrapped Up with No Place to Go
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The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again (2016)
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Why we should never judge a film, remake or otherwise, before actually seeing it
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San Diego's Biggest Convention as Seen Through the Eyes of The Massie Twins
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The reasoning behind my review of Act of Valor, supporting our troops, and the meaning of real patriotism
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Chris Pandolfi predicts the winners and shares his thoughts on the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. Did your favorite make his list?
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