New Releases

Dolphin Tale 2 (2014)
Winter Gets a Friend

“You must concede that movies like this follow a very specific formula, and that they’ve done so for a very long time, and that they will continue to do so, not only because that’s what audiences have come to expect from them, but also because they actually demand it of them.” These words were part of my closing thoughts for my review of Dolphin Tale, a 2011 film that dramatized the true story of Winter, an injured dolphin that was rescued off the coast of Florida and eventually fitted with a specially-made prosthetic tail.
The 4K Is a Disaster of Biblical Proportions

The 2011 rerelease of Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters had no selling point, apart from the opportunity to see the film on the big screen after twenty-seven years. That was, for me, more than enough of a reason to go see it; being less than a year old upon the film’s premiere in June of 1984, I had no choice but to grow up experiencing it through television and home video viewings. It’s now 2014, and it has been rereleased again for an exclusive week-long run, only this time with not one but two selling points.
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Sticking to What Works

I’m all for cinematic surprises, but sometimes, it’s a real pleasure going into a movie knowing exactly what you’ll end up getting. Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For stirred within me the same sense of excitement, awe, and even revulsion I felt nine years ago watching the original Sin City, a spectacular achievement that merged the narrative sensibilities of a crime thriller and film noir with the visual sensibilities of a comic book. This follow-up keeps to that atmospheric tradition in tremendous fashion.
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At Last, an Effort Is Made

The Expendables 3 showed me something I never thought I’d see in an Expendables movie: An effort being made. Here is a textbook example of how, with just a little thought put into important elements like story, character, theme, and dialogue, even the most tiresome and gratuitous genres can be entertaining.
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A Horrific Cesspool

Septic Man is a mess in more ways than one – a horror movie that’s not only nauseating to look at but also a narrative catastrophe, all potential emphasis on character development and theme lost amongst the wreckage of what is surely one of the year’s most haphazard, awkwardly structured screenplays.
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The '80s Called – They Want Their Movie Back

Even though the technology wouldn’t have been available to do the visuals justice, the attitude and atmosphere of Guardians of the Galaxy strongly suggest it would have been better had it been made thirty years ago, when audiences were far more willing to embrace goofy action/sci-fi films in which emphasis was placed on stunts and special effects rather than plot and character development.
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A Black-and-White Villain Repainted in Shades of Gray

The Maleficent character was introduced in Disney’s 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty as “the mistress of all evil.” One of the pleasures of the new film Maleficent, a live-action retelling of the Sleeping Beauty legend, is that it develops the title character not as a clear-cut fairytale villain, but as a slighted soul who is reacting, quite understandably, to her mistreatment. But if she’s capable of cruelty and vengeance, so too is she capable of love and tenderness.
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Pavlov's Monster

“This will definitely have a very different feel than the most recent U.S. film,” said Gareth Edwards in a 2011 interview with Dread Central regarding his then-upcoming reboot of Godzilla, “and our biggest concern is making sure we get it right for the fans because we know their concerns. It must be brilliant in every category because I’m a fan as well.” With these words, said before a single frame of the film was shot, Edwards summed up everything I despise about the fanboy mentality.
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A Sequel That Belongs Over the Rainbow

In 1985, Disney’s Return to Oz, a sequel to MGM’s 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, bombed at the box office and was derided by many critics as being too dark for its intended audience, despite being more faithful in tone to the original novels of L. Frank Baum. In the ensuing years, perhaps to the delight of those involved with its troubled production, it has developed a cult following. Now it’s 2014, and it would seem filmmakers sought to ignore Return to Oz entirely and release a new direct sequel to The Wizard of Oz, a 3D animated musical called Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return.
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The Benefits of Not Taking the Toyetic Approach

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the best comic book film I’ve seen in a long time – a movie that’s not only incredibly entertaining and a dazzling showcase of special effects, but also a compelling character study and, most surprisingly, a touching drama.
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From The Movie Vault Archives


The Wiz (1978)
Baum's Vision Gets Urbanized

Sidney Lumet’s The Wiz is an adaptation not just of the Tony-winning Broadway musical but also of L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which means it already has three strikes against it from a sizeable audience of fans and purists. Those who loved the novel – and, it cannot be denied, the 1939 MGM musical it spawned – may not respond well to the story’s urbanized updates, the cast consisting entirely of African American actors, the songs peppered with Motown, funk, and gospel influences.
Winter Gets a Friend
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British Humor Isn't Everyone's Cup of Tea
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The 4K Is a Disaster of Biblical Proportions
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Sticking to What Works
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At Last, an Effort Is Made
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A Horrific Cesspool
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The '80s Called – They Want Their Movie Back
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A Black-and-White Villain Repainted in Shades of Gray
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Pavlov's Monster
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A Sequel That Belongs Over the Rainbow
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Baum's Vision Gets Urbanized
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A Camp Horror Movie, Minus the Camp
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A Dizzying Whirlwind of Conflict
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Corman’s Horticultural Farce
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What Lies Waiting Beyond That Corridor?
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Chris Pandolfi makes his picks for The Best Films of 2012. See his full list of favorite films right here!
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Chris Pandolfi makes his picks for The Worst Films of 2012. See the full list of dispicable films right here…
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Chris Pandolfi Talks with the Author of Enemies, A Love Story
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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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