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  • Death Wish 2

    Death Wish 2 1981

    ★★ Rewatched 26 Jun, 2016

    The original Death Wish was criticized as a glorification of violence that bastardized any notions of debate found in Brian Garfield's original text.

    But it is a nuanced work of quiet dignity when compared to this bombastic sequel, which finds Chuck Bronson going on a vengeful rampage through the streets of Los Angeles after his daughter is raped and murdered.

    There's no pretense of art here. Any level of authenticity that Michael Winner tried to bring to the original film…

  • Independence Day: Resurgence

    Independence Day: Resurgence 2016

    ★★ Watched 23 Jun, 2016

    There's a lot of stuff blowing up and laser beams zipping and zapping and bombastic music and the people cheering or running around and screaming and the laser guns and the big machines and all that shit in this pointless sequel, which will probably only feel refreshing for some people because they honestly don't really make stupid action movies like this anymore.

    Really, though, all this is...all this does is nostalgia coasting and it feels forced. It feels labored.

    That's…

  • Lethal Weapon 3

    Lethal Weapon 3 1992

    ★★★ Rewatched 22 Jun, 2016

    The first three Lethal Weapon films were produced in fairly rapid succession... Using mostly the same creative team and the same cast. And that's probably why, all things considered, this still feels of a piece with the first two films - despite being markedly inferior in quality...

    Because the magical chemistry of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover is still there. Because Joe Pesci is back, in a reduced and - frankly - contrived capacity, but he's still pretty funny. Because…

  • Death Wish

    Death Wish 1974

    ★★★ Rewatched 22 Jun, 2016

    Not unlike with Rocky, one of the more celebrated "action" franchises of the 80s actually began life as a rather thoughtful and "serious" 70s potboiler.

    To be fair, though, Death Wish was always first and foremost an exploitation picture. In which Charlie Bronson patrolled the night streets of NY blowing away sleazy muggers of all races and creeds; and we the people of the audience were meant to cheer him on with abandon.

    I suppose what sets it apart is…

  • Lethal Weapon 2

    Lethal Weapon 2 1989

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 19 Jun, 2016

    It's not an accident that you hear the Merrie Melodies fanfare just before this movie begins. The filmmakers aren't even being precious. The fact is, this is a live action cartoon...and it was put out by Warner Brothers studios. So, really, it's an acknowledgment of intent right up front. And the movie basically cuts to the chase - literally - so I'll do the same:

    This is a perfect action film. A series of splendid set pieces headlined by two…

  • Ghostbusters II

    Ghostbusters II 1989

    ★★★★ Rewatched 17 Jun, 2016

    It's somewhat understandable that this sequel was initially seen as a disappointment. It came out half a decade after the very well-liked original, which - in franchise terms - is a very long time and seems like an eternity now that we get a new Marvel Universe movie seemingly every week.

    But, in any case, I suppose it's expected that after an enormously successful comic fantasy became a staple of the zeitgeist, spawned a surprisingly great animated series in the…

  • The Conjuring 2

    The Conjuring 2 2016

    ★★★ Watched 16 Jun, 2016

    Maybe the Warrens are full of shit and maybe they're not. I mean, who knows? Penn & Teller? James Randi?

    Hell... I don't know. And, truthfully? I don't care. Because it comes down to what you believe, what you choose to believe and how much you are willing to suspend in order to enjoy a movie.

    But, in any case, this is a movie that asks a lot of you.

    Now, speaking from an entirely personal perspective, I find the more…

  • Lethal Weapon

    Lethal Weapon 1987

    ★★★★ Rewatched 13 Jun, 2016

    It isn't the rather boilerplate "Evil Shadow Company Conspiracy" plot, or its cookie cutter 80s bad guys, or the generally familiar Post Viet Nam PTSD milieu that makes this a great thriller. It's the fact that Shane Black created two genuinely interesting heroes to play off each other in a very witty screenplay, and those two heroes were perfectly cast. Meanwhile, Richard Donner's crisp, clean direction understands that they are the heart and soul of the picture; and beyond any…

  • Back to the Future Part III

    Back to the Future Part III 1990

    ★★★★ Rewatched 09 Jun, 2016

    And then... The Roberts Zemeckis and Gale wrote a movie they really wanted to make. Because they loved old-fashioned American westerns. So they figured, hey... Here's our excuse to make one. Let's just make one. Fuck it.

    And so... The saga that began as a fine comic nostalgia piece, morphed into a candy-ass version of Blade Runner before ending up as a western. Any way you slice it, what we can say - unequivocally - is that it is what…

  • Back to the Future Part II

    Back to the Future Part II 1989

    ★★★ Rewatched 04 Jun, 2016

    Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale painted themselves into a corner with a gag cliffhanger ending. So they're forced to own up to it with this madcap, chaotic sequel that doesn't really work.

    Though, in all fairness, it does still manage to be entertaining just the same.

    You can tell they don't really know what to do early on. The "premise" is flimsy and, once the initial conflict - and source of the cliffhanger - is resolved, it gives way to…

  • Kindergarten Cop 2

    Kindergarten Cop 2 2016

    ★★ Watched 27 May, 2016

    Yeah... This is basically exactly what you are very likely expecting from a "sequel" to Kindergarten Cop, released 26 years after the fact and starring Dolph Lundgren...which is to say: This is not a particularly good movie.

    And, of course, it's an in name only sequel that ultimately plays more like a remake. And what you end up with is basically a not very good remake to a movie that is not necessarily a classic, but is still somehow better…

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014

    ★★ Watched 23 May, 2016

    I don't think anybody in their right mind could possibly go into this thing and expect a "good" movie in the traditional sense of the word...

    I mean, sure, they pulled a halfway decent early nineties superhero comic book movie out of this property a while back...thanks to the popularity of a cartoon show and a bunch of toys and arcade games.

    That's all well and good, I guess. But the best thing to ever stem from this weird and,…