Review: ‘The Last Mercenary’ misses the mark

The Last Mercenary

Action movies aren’t a genre that has ever let the age of their stars get in the way of a good time. If you do things right, you can have aged men play all kinds of characters. The Last Mercenary seems intent on pushing that idea to the limit by casting a 60-year-old Jean-Claude Van Damme as a mysterious spy returned from the cold to rescue his wayward son.

It also seems intent on being as over the top silly as it can be, with Van Damme’s character –dubbed “The Mist” because it’s there, but you can’t touch it– being a master of disguise, a master of proverbs, and hyper-competent at basically everything while also making all the most ridiculous choices.

Does it work though? Well… no, not really.

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Review: ‘The Last Letter from Your Lover’ is a lovely, if predictable, romance story

Last Letter From Your Lover.

Picture this: in the present, a young journalist discovers a series of love letters. They were written between a married woman and her paramour in the 1960s, and they tell of a passionate but star crossed affair. Naturally, the journalist searches for more of the letters and, eventually, finds love of her own.

This is the plot of The Last Letter From Your Lover. It isn’t entirely original, but it is a pretty good version of this kind of story.

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Review: ‘Blood Red Sky’ isn’t quite the film it could be, but is still fun

BLOOD RED SKY

An ill woman and her son are on a plane to New York. Awaiting them, a doctor with an array of ultramodern medical technology will give them the best chance to cure her ailment. Her plane is then, of course, hijacked. All of this is a slow build to a reveal that you can see coming from a mile off her ailment isn’t an ailment; she’s a vampire trying desperately to suppress the monster within, and the hijackers are about to find out that they aren’t in the movie they thought they were in.

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Review: ‘Fear Street Part Three: 1666’ is an uneven, but still satisfying, end to the trilogy

Fear Street Part Three: 1666

As with most trilogies, the wrap up can be difficult. In this case, a great many story threads have to be wrapped up from two different time frames, and the film does so by diving into the past and the origin of the curse that haunts Shadyside.

The result is that Part Three: 1666 has the most responsibility of the three films, and strains a little bit under that weight.

Note: This review contains minor spoilers for Fear Street Part One: 1994 and Fear Street Part Two: 1978, both of which you should definitely watch before you watch this. It will also contain what might be considered minor spoilers for this film, so if you want to go in blind, let it be known that while I think this is the weakest of the three films, I still liked it and think you will too.

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Review: ‘Fear Street Part Two: 1978’ turns to Friday the 13th for inspiration, is another fun riff on the slasher genre

FEAR STREET PART 2: 1978

If Fear Street Part One: 1994 made it seem like director Leigh Janiak was infatuated with 90s slashers, then Part Two: 1978 should make it clear that’s not the case. Director Leigh Janiak is infatuated with slashers, full stop. Throwing back all the way to Friday the 13th, 1978‘s main story takes place at a summer camp with a plaid jacket wearing brute murdering teens with an axe. And you know what? It might be better than the last one.

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Review: ‘Fear Street Part One: 1994’ is a superfun, 90s inspired teen slasher

FEAR STREET PART 1: 1994

There are many things you could say about movies and media from the 90s, but one thing that can’t be denied is that the teen slasher went through something of a golden age. There are too many to list but suffice to say that if 90s teen horror is your jam, then Fear Street Part One: 1994 was made specifically for you. If you happen to like fun movies, then it was also made for you.

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Review: ‘Good On Paper’ is ok in practice

Good on Paper

A woman walks through an airport complaining to a friend on the phone about being in the security line for 45 minutes because the woman ahead of her lost her boarding pass. “Who loses their boarding pass between check-in and security?” Then, as she reaches her gate, a handsome man hands her a piece of paper. “You dropped this,” he says as he hands her own boarding pass. This is the meet-cute in Good on Paper, a film which follows standup comedy Amanda (Iliza Shlesinger) as she embarks on a relationship with a man who seems too good to be true.

Written by and starring Shlesinger and directed by Kimmy Gatewood, the films seem primed to tell a story unlike what we’ve seen before, but while the intent is noble, the execution is only fine.

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Review: ‘Fatherhood’ has a heartfelt performance from Kevin Hart

Fatherhood

Fatherhood starts with an unimaginable loss. Matt (Kevin Hart) and Liz (Deborah Ayorinde) are in the hospital to give birth to their first child. The birth goes well, but soon after, Liz suddenly dies from a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in her lungs, that leaves Matt devastated and alone to raise his newborn daughter Maddy. Combined with pressure from his mother in law, everything about life looks difficult and bleak, but Matt resolves to raise his child the way that Liz would have wanted.

The opening scenes, cutting back and forth from Maddie’s birth to Liz’s funerals, let you know exactly what kind of film this will be and that Kevin Hart –a man known for being funny– has some dramatic chops, too.

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Review: ‘Awake’ is a technical stunner searching for a movie

Awake

I love long takes. I think they are an excellent way to highlight scene geography and build narrative tension in a film. I know they are complex endeavours that require every person involved to operate in unison. I find them thrilling.

Awake is full of long takes and other interesting camera work. It has fight scenes inside cars, long walks through buildings, and car crashes from the passengers perspective. Unfortunately, what it doesn’t have is a good story to tell, which is a shame because technically, the film is a stunner.

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Review: ‘Army of the Dead’ is dumb, fun, and Zack Snyder’s best movie in years

ARMY OF THE DEAD

Zack Snyder has been making comic movies almost exclusively for the last 15 years, starting with 300 and most recently with this year’s release of his extended cut of Justice League. That’s not a complaint, but it is interesting to me that he has come back to zombies after having finished that run, the genre that started his career.

It is my opinion that his remake of Dawn of the Dead, penned by James Gunn and released in 2004 as his first feature, is my favourite of Snyder’s films. His return to the genre is a proposition that I found exciting, and while it’s not a perfect movie by any stretch, Army of the Dead is his best movie in ages.

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Review: ‘The Woman in the Window’ pays homage to many other films you should probably watch instead

Woman in the Window

Imagine for a moment a film full of Oscar-winning actors you love, written by a Pulitzer prize winner whose work you adore, directed by a director with a solid track record, and that pays homage to some of the great mystery stories of all time. Now imagine that it isn’t very good.

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Review: ‘The Mitchells vs the Machines’ continues Lord & Miller’s ongoing streak of great films

THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES

Families are tough. You don’t get to choose them, and you may not fit in with them, but unless you are one of the unlucky ones, your family will never stop trying and will always have your back. The Mitchells vs The Machines is the latest film that will teach you this lesson, that no matter what is going on in your life and how much you don’t relate to them, your parents will have your back. Most people learn this over time as they grow and mature. Katie Mitchell learns on a road trip with her parents that happens to coincide with a robot uprising.

Spoiler alert, this movie is amazing.

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Review: ‘Moxie.’ is a tale of protest and empowerment

Moxie.

How do you create change? That’s one of the questions at the heart of Moxie, the story of Vivian (Hadley Robinson), a young woman whose high school is, in a word, toxic and the girls of which are disempowered and objectified. The boys literally create a list ranking each of the girls for their best “attribute”, like biggest breasts or “most bangable”, or in the case of Vivian, “most obedient.”

The answer, it turns out, is “however you can.” Tired of existing in a world so toxic, and after both being inspired by a new girl in class and by finding a suitcase full of mementoes from her mother, Lisa’s (Amy Poehler) past, she finds a way to create change with an anonymously produced ‘zine she calls “Moxie”.

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Review: ‘Space Sweepers’ is exactly the kind of bonkers fun I want in my Sci-Fi right now

Space Sweepers

Look, 2020 was a challenging year. In a world that feels incredibly bleak, sometimes you want something bright and colourful and maybe a little naive to get you through the day. Space Sweepers is entirely this: a Korean blockbuster about a group of rag-tag misfits who salvage space junk for a living, get caught up in a massive conspiracy, adopt a child, and fight back against a ruthless and oppressive corporate overlord.

It’s a ton of fun.

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