BAD BOYS FOR LIFE Review

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence Return to Michael Bay's Bad Boys Franchise Sans Bay, but the Chemistry and Passage of Time Help this Third Installment Shine.

1917 Review

Writer/Director Sam Mendes and Cinematographer Roger Deakins Craft a Technically Exceptional Film While not Skimping on the Emotional Aspects of War.

DOLITTLE Review

Robert Downey Jr. Departs from the Iron Man Character for the First Time in Some Time in this Overwhelmingly Bland Adaptation that Clearly Could have been More.

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL Review

The Rock, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan Return in Their Second Video Game Adventure that Continues to Largely Defy Expectation.

STAR WARS: EPISODE IX - THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Review

JJ Abrams Conclusion to the Skywalker Saga is Everything and Nothing at the Same Time; Offering Grand Escapism with Little Heart.

ARKANSAS Review

Right off the bat I'd like to acknowledge the fact I live in Hot Springs, Arkansas which is situated about forty-five minutes north east of Glenwood where writer/director and actor Clark Duke was born; his experiences in the area clearly informing his connection to and desire to adapt John Brandon's best-selling book of the same name. And yes, the climactic scene of the movie takes place on historic bathhouse row, and was shot about five minutes from my house in downtown Hot Springs National Park. I say all of this not to try and convince you of how cool I am (unless it's working, then yes-I'm very cool), but instead to make it clear there will be no playing favorites here simply because the movie takes its name from the state I've called home for nearly three decades and because I recognized a few locations. In fact, despite the title of the film Duke and his crew shot the majority of his directorial debut in Alabama rather than in or around the Little Rock area as the movie suggests. So while there is certainly a layer of appreciation and affection for some of the sites we see and the accents we hear, there was almost more of an eagerness to see these things serve as a backdrop for what is a genre of movie we're all very familiar with whether from the natural state or not. Arkansas pays plenty of homage to the overall tone of the state, especially in its flashbacks to the mid to late eighties as we're delivered the backstory of Vince Vaughn's character, Frog, as he belts out the Gatlin brothers and cruises past open fields and dilapidated barns in his Nissan Fairlady 300ZX Coupé. At one point, Vaughn's Frog asks a couple of his associates what they're up to in which they respond with a generic comment before summarizing the feeling as being, "asleep at the wheel of the American dream." There's almost no better phrasing one could have concocted to define the stagnant air of progress yet fierce commitment to maintaining aged ideals (some good, not all bad). It is in this kind of mentality that we find the best facets of Duke's film as he's not simply telling a story of the "Dixie mafia" and funneling said crime/drama through the lens of the south, but he's utilizing this contradictory air of the south where everything feels ironic without the slightest bit of intent to add specific tone to his crime caper. Arkansas, the film, although a story about drug dealers is mostly a story about two generations of men whose aspirations are only limited by the economic options of their environment and whose intelligence is only undermined by their (mostly) unassuming appearances dictated by that same environment.

TROLLS WORLD TOUR Review

The Trolls franchise has had a somewhat varied journey in my collective memory as things began with hesitation at the concept alone though interest was piqued after Justin Timberlake released the ultimate feel-good summertime jam in that final, peaceful summer of 2016 with "Can't Stop the Feeling". Maybe this would be some kind of cool, animated riff on a musical with remixes of modern and classic songs as overseen by JT; something that was for the children, but made by one of the biggest pop stars of their parents childhood. Then came that November when all I remember about trying to cobble together a review was the fact I was writing about Trolls as I watched the Presidential election descend into madness. I gave the original film a straight-up-the-middle two and a half stars and thought of it essentially as colorful, but slight. It was fate that would have my wife and (three year-old at the time) daughter discover the movie some months later and as young children do my daughter latched onto Trolls just as I had Robin Hood some twenty-plus years prior and naturally decided to watch it on repeat until there was no other choice but for the characters to become endearing, the versions of the songs they sang to become the new normal and the weirdness of the world in which it existed to no longer feel strange or far-fetched, but more like home. We bought the soundtrack, we watched the Netflix animated series, and we anxiously awaited the sequel.