Highly Suspect Reviews

Hosts: An Ever-Rotating Lineup of OOU.Net’s Unusual Suspects

That’s right, your favorite geek conglomerate website is now doing audio movie reviews! The cast of reviewers is subject to change even movie to movie, we have a whole rogues gallery of cinema outlaws, but one thing you can always count on is that these funny and insightful film reviews will always be, in some way, Highly Suspect.

OUR REVIEWS FOR LIMITED RELEASE AND VOD FILMS, SCREENER SQUAD, YOU CAN FIND RIGHT HERE.

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THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON

Shia LaBeouf has had a hard run of it. I mean, due to his own indiscretions, sure. But for a while there, he seemed inescapable and of late, he’s seemed…done. Well, we might all reconsider Mr. LaBeouf after seeing him light up the screen in this movie. He plays a southern man dealing with an emotionally crippling loss by aimlessly grifting his fellow small-town fishermen. When he runs into Zak, a man with Down Syndrome who has escaped from his special care home to follow his dreams of becoming a professional wrestler, the two become (eventually) friends and ‘road dogs’. There’s a lot of charm to be found in this delightful but slight dramedy. Chris and Alan have your full report.

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THE KITCHEN

Based on the Vertigo comic book series, The Kitchen follows three women as they try to make ends meet in 70s Hell’s Kitchen NYC after their husbands go to jail for robbery. It becomes apparent quickly that the Irish Mob boss who is supposed to be looking out for them couldn’t care less, is bad at his job, and in general, is a real asshole. So, they do it for themselves, stepping on his territory of protection of local businesses and being much better at it. Of course, this success is almost immediately met with anger, derision, and threats of violence. But these ladies are doing it for themselves and proving that anything a male mobster can do, they can do it better. Of course, that doesn’t mean the film does it right. Chris, Alan, Beau, and Marco have some very different thoughts on the film so listen to their review to hear the schism.

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SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK

We went into this adaptation of the children’s book series knowing these three things about the source material: #1- We were old enough to be unaware of their existence when they were big. #2- To all reports, the stories themselves were just ok. #3- To all reports, the illustrations were mad-awesome. So, you’re not going to get a comparison review here. However, director André Øvredal, who did two of our favorite horror films of the recent past, Trollhunters and The Autopsy of Jane Doe, was reason alone to be excited. And working from a script by horror stalwarts Guillermo Del Toro, Patrick Melton, and Marcus Dunstan, well… Maybe expectations would be a bit higher than usual for a children’s book series adaptation. Turns out, on the whole, Scary Stories lived up to the promise of its creators AND what we’ve heard about the originals. The story follows a group of kids who discover a book that belonged to a girl who was terribly abused by her rich family and as legend has it, her ghost tells children who delve into the family’s crumbling abandoned manse scary stories…the last stories they’ll ever hear! Legend turns out to be true and the book starts writing itself, with new tales of horror involving each of the kids. Faced with a ticking clock they must decipher the true history of the angry ghost scribe before their own monsters come for them. Chris, Beau, and JC take on this not-an-anthology horror and have some very positive thoughts.

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HOBBS & SHAW

Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson on vacay from the Fast & The Furious Films team up together here for an international action-comedy-spy romp that asks the question: how dumb is TOO dumb for a Fast & the Furious film? Your answers may vary, as Hobbs & Shaw seeks to toe right up to that line. This time, Statham has a sister (Vanessa Kirby) who works for MI6 and in a fit of no other options, she injects a time-capsuled civilization-ending virus into herself rather than let the evil ‘black superman’ Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) get ahold of it. Insert time-limit (which apparently international travel doesn’t figure into) with the titular leads on the run trying to get a removal device for the capsules, avoid Brixton, and throw in a bunch of odd cameos, all within the film’s hefty running time of 135 minutes. But, how is it? Chris, Ben, Kim, and Zach are here to address that.

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MAIDEN

Ever heard of the Whitbread Round the World Race? Neither had I, but it’s the longest race there is as yachts compete to circumnavigate the globe in this risky venture. And up until 1989, they didn’t have women as part of their crews. A hotbed of machismo, the community pooh-poohed the idea that women could handle the physical and psychological demands involved…until an upstart 24-year-old shamed them all by captaining the Maiden and filling up the crew entirely with women. Documenting this voyage is the film Maiden, with a surprising amount of footage taken before, during, and after the race and interviews with the crew today. What begins as standard doc stuff quickly becomes harrowing, exciting, and deeply inspiring as Maiden moves to the top list for docs this year. Listen to Chris, Marco, and Ben say their peace.

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ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD

The arrival of a new Tarantino film is always going to be a major cinephile event, even if the response to his output has become decidedly mixed. At the very least, you know you’re gonna get something wild and Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is no exception. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Rick Dalton, once a famous TV western star but now trying to figure out how to resurrect his career. Brad Pitt plays Cliff Booth, Leo’s longtime stunt man and best friend who lately has taken on more of the position of being his driver/gofer/heterosexual life partner. Together they traverse the late 60s Hollywood scene spending time with a plethora of cinematic notables. Meanwhile, his neighbor Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie, is expecting a child and is exploring the beginnings of her own stardom while the Manson family lurks in the background as the film inexorably heads towards a bloody tragedy. Chris, Marco, Ben, and Frank carefully avoid any spoilers in their review…until the spoiler section at the end.

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THE FAREWELL

Normally a film about a family trip to China to visit an elderly grandmother who is dying of cancer but the entire clan has agreed not to tell them of their impending mortality wouldn’t make me run to the theater to see it. But The Farewell was released to such praise at Sundance this year that it stayed firmly on my radar. And well that it did. Awkwafina leads the cast here as a Chinese-American woman struggling with culture shock over this perspective, and as one of her first roles in a largely dramatic context, she completely holds her own. Check out what Chris, Marco, and Alan have to say about what surely will be a sleeper hit that we wouldn’t even be surprised to see snag some nominations.

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THE LION KING

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth has been made before and since the early release of Disney’s photo-realistic CG Lion King remake but is it really as terrible as all that? I mean, it’s got Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa, for FSM’s sake! Are the recent reviews typical overreactions to cows that shouldn’t be considered to be as sacred as all that? Or do we stare into the dead eyes of things that imitate life but have never lived, That Which Should Not Be, The Beast, awww, cute computerized big kittehs! Listen to Chris, Ben, and JC give their verdict.

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CRAWL

When Haley (Kaya Scodelario) can’t get in touch with her estranged father (Barry Pepper) as a category 5 hurricane is rolling into his small Florida town, she braves the weather to go find him only to discover he’s trapped in the crawl space under the house along with hungry alligators…and now she is as well. As the water rises and more gators appear on the scene, will they be able to beat the elements and the FUCKING DINOSAURS (seriously, I don’t understand how anyone lives in Florida)? Listen to Alan and Chris tell you whether this harrowing journey is one worth taking.

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THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE

Jesse Eisenberg plays Casey, a somewhat effeminate mouse of a guy who works all but unnoticed at a small accountancy film. After he is randomly attacked and hospitalized by a local motorcycle gang, he signs up to a nearby dojo run by the toxically tough Alessandro Nivola. Strangely, the two men really take to each other at first and Casey’s determination sends him quickly up the ladder of the sensei’s estimation, somewhat to the chagrin of his best female student (Imogen Poots). Casey’s initial meekness transforms into a strange sort of confidence leading to some truly unexpected and darkly funny consequences. Listen to Marco, Alan, and Chris teach you the basic moves.

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STUBER

The mismatched buddy action comedy is back! Wait, did it ever leave? Regardless, that 80s vibe is in full swing in Stuber. Dave Bautista plays an all-business cop tracking the guy (Iko Uwais) who killed his partner. And he gets that solid lead RIGHT after he happens to have gotten LASIK eye surgery. So, for all extents and purposes, he’s blind (insert continuous rim-shot here). Calling an Uber, he forces his driver, the always likable Kumail Nanjiani, to keep driving him from place to place and be his eyes in his quest to catch the killer. Which, Kumail is none too thrilled about, but what are ya gonna do? We had more than a few questions about the viability of this plot and some wildly mixed reactions. Listen to Marco, Ben, and Chris discuss.

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MIDSOMMAR

How do you follow up a smash feature film directorial debut like Hereditary? Ari Aster has his answer for you with Midsommar. Florence Pugh plays Dani, a woman dealing with a family tragedy. Her guilt-ridden but still looking for a way out of the relationship boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), sheepishly invites her along on a trip with his friends to rural Sweden. Their Swedish friend takes them to a festival hosted once every 90 years that seems quaint and charming, albeit seriously weird. Oh, they have no idea how weird things are about to get. Check out Chris, Beau, Marco, John and Patience in their celebration of all things Midsommar!

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SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME

In this epilogue to what has now been dubbed “The Infinity Saga” (IE: every MCU film up to this one), Spider-Man returns 5 years after what people are referring to as “The Blip”. Peter is dealing with the loss of his mentor Tony Stark, Happy Hogan putting the moves on his Aunt May and trying to get up the courage to ask out MJ. This last goal he hopes to achieve during a school trip to Europe. He’s determined to leave the spider at home. And then Nick Fury shows up with alternate-Earther Mysterio in tow warning of an imminent attack by gigantic elemental creatures. Peter’s forced to dodge/protect his schoolmates and understand what this whole ‘great responsibility’ thing is all about. Listen to what Chris, Beau, JC, and Ben thought about it right here.

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YESTERDAY

What if The Beatles never existed and you were the only person that remembered all their songs that never got written? That’s the premise of Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis’ Yesterday and I’ll tell you, it lost some viewers right out of the park with that premise. Himesh Patel plays Jack, a struggling busker who, along with his best friend/manager Ellie (Lily James) has dreamed of fame but no one else seems really interested. And then there’s a magical accident, Jack wakes up in the hospital, OMG THE BEATLES NEVER EXISTED. **evilly strokes chin** So, yeah, Jack becomes the biggest musician of all time playing the Beatles songs as his own to a world that’s never encountered them before now. Oh wait, the film thinks the lead story is that he should be focusing on his friend Ellie who early on into his success drops that she’s always secretly loved him. Anyway, we had mixed reactions to this one. Check out Chris, Marco, and Ben on the review right here.

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ANNABELLE COMES HOME

Whoever thought that doll from the beginning of the first Conjuring movie with end up with three spin-offs? And while the sub-series didn’t exactly start off on the right foot with 2014’s lack-luster Annabelle, things markedly improved with 2017’s Annabelle: Creation, and lo, here with are with Annabelle Comes Home. And surprise surprise, it’s the best of the lot. The film begins with the Warrens (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) acquiring the doll and, with difficulty, getting it home to put it in its protective glass cage. Fans of the series are all too familiar with their room full of cursed objects, with Annabelle as the pièce de résistance. When the Warrens have to head out (presumably to deal with the events of the original Conjuring) they leave a babysitter (Madison Iseman) in charge of their young daughter Judy (McKenna Grace). When the babysitter’s troublemaking friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) drops by, things get wonky fast as she ends up in their museum of horrors and unleashes the doll…who, in turn, unleashes everything else in the room. Kim, Zach, and Chris were put reluctantly in their seats to review this one but it turns out they were in for a largely pleasant surprise. Listen to what they had to say here.

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CHILD’S PLAY

Chucky’s Back! Or, at least, a new version of him. Updating this franchise successfully was always going to be a challenge but other than the hideously fugly new Chucky design, we were surprised how much this decidedly horror-comedy managed to do right. This time around, Chucky isn’t a doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer, he’s an animatronic robot doll with an Amazon Echo/Google Home-style super-enhanced helper persona, but one directed at young Andy (he literally “imprints” on him in one scene). Chucky can operate electronics remotely, can learn and adapt from what you teach him, and eventually, can try to kill everyone who ever hurts you. Because this Chucky had his ‘violence inhibitor’ intentionally shut off at the factory (I know). I know he can make us laugh, and that’s probably because Mark Hamill is voicing the ugly thing, but we’ve also got Aubrey Plaza as the mom and Brian Tyree Henry as a police detective next door. John and Chris both admit they were surprised it was as fun as it ended up being. But you can hear all that and more in their review.

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TOY STORY 4

There are THREE living doll horror movies coming out this month and Toy Story 4 is one of them. Ok, it’s a bit of a reach but there are decidedly more horror elements in this 4th and final(?) chapter in the Pixar saga than ever before. So naturally, we were digging it. This time Woody must convince new toy Forky (literally made out of a plastic spork…why is he not Sporky?) to be satisfied with being a toy rather than his previous existence as trash. Also, the family goes on a road trip, there’s a creepy thrift store, and the return of Bo Peep, now with 1000% more action hero personality. It’s not like we NEEDED a fourth Toy Story film, but now that it’s here, we’re glad it is. Listen to Chris, Beau, and Frank play with this movie.

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SHAFT

Yes, we are in fact just talking about Shaft. Ben, Alan, and Marco decidedly do NOT shut their mouths in this review of the latest chapter detailing the adventures of the Shaft family line. Bringing back the original (Richard Roundtree) and his son from the 2000 film (Samuel L. Jackson), there’s now a new Shaft (Jessie Usher) who is expected to live up to the badass family name but…I guess a black sheep of the family joke would be inappropriate here. After Shaft Jr Jr, who is an FBI agent, has a friend die mysteriously, he turns to the family for help in an unconventional (by FBI standards) fashion. And wackiness ensues. We were surprised to see how much this new chapter delivers on exactly what Shaft fans would want in a new film. But don’t believe me. Listen to the review.

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THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO

This Sundance smash hit has already made it to many critics Best of 2019 lists so we were extremely pleased they showed it to us here in Austin. Jimmie (played by actor Jimmie Fails who is largely playing himself in this film based partly on his real-life story) is living with his friend (Jonathan Majors) and his father (Danny Glover) while he dreams of reclaiming the house that he grew up in. Once in a predominantly black part of the city, gentrification has led to it becoming wildly unaffordable, the area now having been claimed by white folks. This doesn’t stop Jimmie from sneaking around the house and touching up the paint or doing minor exterior repairs when he can. When the family occupying the house moves out, Jimmie moves in and is determined to claim it as his own, despite not having a real legal recourse. Can Jimmie fight the unbalanced property ownership system in SF and come home again? Listen to Beau, Marco, and Alan give their review.

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MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL

Jeez, was the last MIB film really all the way back in 2012? Time flies when a franchise is all but dead and it sure seemed that way for the Men in Black. But no, they were just waiting for a new team to take it over. Director F. Gary Gray calls upon the already existing chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson (from Thor: Ragnarok) to don the suits. Here, they must defend the Earth from…hell, I just saw this and I can’t exactly remember. Aliens. But there’s lots of goop, quipping, Kumail Nanjiani as a cute tiny alien, and more than enough YOU WOULD THINK to keep Men in Black fans who were hoping for a solid return happy with it. But…well…listen to Chris, Matt, Morgan, and Beau tell their side of it. It’s not a total loss.

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THE DEAD DON’T DIE

If someone told me, hell, more than two years ago, that Jim Jarmusch was going to write and direct a zombie comedy I would have been more than a bit skeptical. In fact, when I read about The Dead Don’t Die first being announced, I had to double-check it wasn’t a story from The Onion. But, here we are and honestly, we’re better for it. Jarmusch pulls together his massive crew to star in this oddball zomb-com with the minimum of taking it seriously. But hey, with a cast with Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Tom Waits, and MANY more, you’re kinda set. At least when Jarmusch is in charge. Check out Chris, Marco, Beau, and Ben on the review.

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LATE NIGHT

Mindy Kaling plays Molly, a chemical plant efficiency expert who dreams of comedy and becoming a writer for her favorite show and star ever, Late Night With Katherine Newbury. The host, played with the maximum English pomposity by Emma Thompson, finds herself being criticized for having an all-male all-white writing staff at exactly the moment the completely inexperienced Molly shows up, How can Molly make sure that she’s not viewed as merely a diversity hire, deal with the toxic male work environment, and save Katherine’s show from impending cancellation? If I told you, you’d have no reason to go see the movie but Chris, Frank, and Beau discuss how they feel about how it happened right here in the review.

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THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2

Filing firmly under ‘sequels I can’t imagine anyone was asking for’ but hey, it’s Illumination entertainment, is more of the Secret Life of Pets. This time, stepping in for the no-longer-hireable Louis C.K. is Patton Oswalt. He voices Max, who lives with his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper), his best dog friend Duke (Eric Stonestreet) and now, a new husband (Pete Holmes) and baby. Things will never be the same but Max and Duke learn to love little Liam…a little too much, as the Jack Palance in City Slickers analogue character of Rooster (Harrison Ford) points out on their family trip out to the farm. That storyline is, literally, less than a third of this movie. Pets 2 is basically three movies crammed into one. The bunny Snowball (Kevin Hart) has teamed up with new dog Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) to save a white tiger cub from an abusive circus owner (Nick Kroll). Also, Gidget (Jenny Slate) has to win back Max’s favorite squeaky toy she was entrusted with from the apartment of a cat lady. It does indeed feel like plots from a rejected tv series crammed into a film but does that mean it’s not good? Listen to Chris, George, and Ben give their full report.

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DARK PHOENIX

The X-Men films give a second go-round at the legendary Jean Grey/Phoenix story after X3 so thoroughly f#@cked it up. This time it’s long-time X-movie-writer Simon Kinberg being given a chance behind the camera. Oh, who also wrote X3. Just saying. This also being (assuming we never actually get a theatrical release for New Mutants) the last Fox X-universe film before Disney reboots, so excitement for this downer of a superhero story is at an all-time low. Sophie Turner returns as Jean Grey who, after being bombarded with ? energy starts having a dermatological problem with glowing face cracks and is having trouble keeping from killing everyone. As ya do. It’s up to the X-Men and Magneto’s team of whatever-they’re-calling-themselves-now to stop this new threat from within and try to decide what to do with her. Also, Jessica Chastain is in here too for some reason NOT playing Mastermind. Anywho, yes, it’s as bad as you’ve heard. Listen to Chris, Harris, and Alan try to make sense of this rushed ending to the franchise right here.

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ALL IS TRUE

To no one’s surprise, Kenneth Branagh directs and plays the central role of a post-playwriting William Shakespeare. Here, he returns home to his long-ignored home and family in Stratford to mourn for his dead son Hamnet (not a spelling error). His fame brings him both enmity and admiration from the locals. However, the real problems are within his own family and their resentment for his long absence. Ben and Chris are more or less along for the ride as our two theater-types, Beau and Marco, have a lot of very pertinent thoughts on this bittersweet look at the Bard’s twilight years.

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MA

Octavia Spencer teams up again with her director from the heartwarming The Help to make exactly the kind of movie you were expecting: a horror movie about a friendly older woman who first invites into her home and then starts stalking and trying to murder a bunch of teenage kids. What, wait? No, it’s true. Spencer is the antagonist in this Blumhouse flick and pretty much is unquestionably the lead. Teenagers will avoid all common sense when it comes to partying. The titular “ma” just wants to be liked and has some serious issues left over from her own school days. Together this leads to some pretty triggering stuff for Spencer that may or may not be what you asked for as a horror fan. For some of our crew, it very much was. For some, not at all. Listen to Chris, Patience, Ben, and JC give their reviews.

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GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS

Godzilla’s back, baby, and this time he’s not alone. Not by a long-shot. Directed by horror fan-favorite Michael Dougherty (Trick or Treat, Krampus), King of the Monsters, this third film in Universal’s MonsterVerse, has been deeply anticipated. Humans versus tons of kaiju monsters and Godzilla taking the lead. World Destruction. You know, the usual. No one we know is better than gauging the quality of this sort of thing than Matt and Morgan Frank who are on our own Giganticast show (and it’s not like you ever had any doubts they were gonna be on this one). They are joined by Marco and Michael and I’ll just bet you’re going to be surprised by what they have to say in this almost full Giganticast episode length review.

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BOOKSMART

Actress Olivia Wilde begins her directorial career with a bang with Booksmart. It’s the old formula of nerds on the last day of high school trying to find the big party but end up discovering things about themselves. Booksmart actually finds something fresh to do with the formula. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein are the nerds who always took school and life so seriously they never made any time for a social life, apart from their own friendship. Upon discovering that all the party kids they always looked down on are getting into the same good schools they worked so hard for, they decide to spend this last night of high school cutting loose. Easier said than done when you’ve spent the last four years turning up your noses at all your classmates. Featuring a sizable cast of very funny people, Chris, Beau, and Frank thought Booksmart really delivered. Check out their review here.

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BRIGHTBURN

James Gunn’s name is all over Brightburn‘s marketing but he’s really only here to produce it and help out his cousin and brother who wrote the film and his buddy and protégé David who directed it. So, get that “A New James Gunn Film” thing out of your heads now. Also, be clear: this is a horror movie. Straight up. Yes, it’s a ‘what-if-Superboy-grew-up-wrong-and-evil’ story, but outside of all but directly referencing Superman story tropes, it’s a horror film. Elizabeth Banks and David Denman, two very likable actors, play his adoptive parents who are slowly realizing that this alien space kid ain’t as cute as he used to be. But hey: superhero horror movie….ya’ll loved it right? All I’ll say is that Chris has trouble keeping his emotions in check when discussing the film. Listen to the review with him, JC, Alan, Marco, and Kim to find out what that means.

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ALADDIN

This whole ‘Disney-making-live-action-remakes-of-their-beloved-cartoons’ thing ain’t gonna stop anytime soon and here we have the latest, and potentially the most dangerous of them all, Aladdin. Yes, despite people screaming at them about it the whole way (probably assuming they were making bad decisions rather than having any actual evidence of them) Disney seems to have stuck largely to the appropriate casting and even gave Jasmine a new song and significantly more agency. Yes, yes, you say, but is it actually good? How horrible is Will Smith as the Genie? Other than shaky CG genie face, not horrible at all. You need to listen to Chris, Ben, and Alan on this Aladdin movie review express their surprise at all the things they actually really enjoyed here including Will Smith (but decidedly not everything).

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WHITE CROW

For you slightly more cultured types out there, you may be familiar with Rudolf Nureyev. He was a Russian ballet dancer who was widely thought of as being the greatest male dancer of his generation. More excitingly (for the purposes of biopic storytelling), he was the first Soviet artist during the Cold War to defect. It was no small thing. The KGB was hella pissed. The rest of the world got The Lord of the Dance, who liked to party as much as he liked to perform. But who was this guy anyway? Ralph Fiennes directs this largely pre-defection Nureyev story (and plays a small but important role). Marco and Chris had lots of positive things to say about it, but that’s only half the picture. Check out their review here.

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JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM

Director Chad Stahelski returns with the third chapter in the post-puppy ass-kicking series John Wick. After the events of part 2, John (Keanu Reeves) is on the run from the entire world as he has been excommunicated from his society of assassins and has a huge marker on his head. Calling on old favors from some new stars in the series like Halle Berry and Anjelica Houston and deciding who among his old friends he can still trust, John and new pup try to work the system (and kill, like, hundreds of people) to find a way out of his untenable situation. But does it hold up to the first two? Listen to Chris, Alan, Ben, Lara, and Harris suss it out.

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TOLKIEN

The author of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien gets the biopic treatment here in Tolkien. Nicholas Hoult plays the legendary fantasy author as a young man as the story vacillates from his time at Oxford getting to know his future wife (Lily Collins) and his experiences in WWI. Throughout it all is his friendship with three other young men, a ‘fellowship’, if you will, and how that friendship guided him towards, well, you know. Much like the rest of the reviews out there, our review crew went from loving it to pieces to meh. Listen to Chris, Cat, Alan, and Frank decide if this film has the true ring of greatness, or if it should be thrown into the fires of Mount Doom.

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THE HUSTLE

I mean, it’s not like a gender-switched remake of the comedy classic (a remake in itself) Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a bad idea. Not at all. And with Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway as the two primary scoundrels who have teamed up to con the men who have done women wrong, it really sounded like they had something here. Well, as you’ll hear Ben and Alan tell it, not so much. Listen to their review of the comedy The Hustle right here.

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POMS

It’s not like I WANTED to see a film about a group of old ladies who decide to form a cheerleading squad. My choices in life led me here, such as it is. So, I chose to hope for the best. Why not, when you’ve got a cast with some truly interesting actresses like Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, and Rhea Perlman? Why not, indeed. Listen to Marco and Chris try to make lemonade as best they can with their review of the movie Poms.

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POKEMON: DETECTIVE PIKACHU

Has it finally happened? Is there a GOOD video-game movie? And is it based on Pokémon? In a Roger Rabbit-esque world where humans and these weird creatures live side by side, a young man (Justice Smith) has come to the big city to deal with the mysterious death of his father only to find a Pikachu with a detective hat that he can actually talk with (apparently this is not the norm) with the voice of Ryan Reynolds who spurs him on to investigate what happened and see if his father is actually dead after all. While I thought it bizarre that so many folks on our crew were deeply excited about this movie (the whole Pokémon craze missed me) it was even more bizarre that the film was not bad at all. Listen to Chris, Matt, Morgan, Ben, and Alan give you the rundown.

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UGLYDOLLS

*You are walking along a beach. The sun is shining, the trees are swaying lightly in the breeze. All is beautiful. Then you notice a bottle washed up at the edge of the shore. You pick it up and see a note inside. Opening it, you uncurl the hastily scrawled document inside. It reads:*

I don’t know how long I have. Chris is preparing the mixing board but soon we will have to talk about it. The thing. The thing he made us do. Uglydolls. Movie Review. I can’t focus on the words or my head starts to swim. How in the world did they get the money to make a 91-minute animated musical commercial for a so-so kids toy at this level of… Hold on, he’s looking around. What does he expect, that we can find mirth here? That there is any joy left in us at all? How can we pretend? Oh God, the mics are on. Pray for us…

Listen to Chris, Marco, and Beau review the UglyDolls Movie right here.

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THE INTRUDER

Michael Ealy and Meagan Good are such an adorable young(ish) couple in The Intruder, it almost seems a shame to sic a crazed Dennis Quaid on them. But let’s face it, if we’re here for anything at all, it’s just to see crazed Dennis Quaid. Here he plays Charlie Peck, an affable enough seeming guy who sells his beautiful childhood home in the Napa Valley to the Howards. He’s obviously protective of the property and says he wants just the right couple who’ll really take care of it. Seems cute at first until he keeps showing up, and showing up, and showing up. Yes, this is a crazy stalker movie. It’s like we’re back in the 90s. But is it any good? Listen to Patience and Chris give their review.

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LONG SHOT

Of all the least likely onscreen romantic pairings, Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen have to be up there near the top. Seth Rogen plays Fred, a freshly unemployed hard-left journalist. Charlize Theron plays the Secretary of the State with Presidential aspirations. When it turns out they knew each other when they were kids, she hires him to script write for him. He’s a casual drug user, she’s someone who reads wiki synopses of popular shows and movies so she can be aware of current pop culture. He’s a super-intense idealist and she’s filled with hope but a realist. Can anything make this work? Apparently, the answer is, yes, as our crew dug the heck out of this one. Listen to Chris, Harris, Marco, Kim, and Alan give their thoughts.

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AVENGERS ENDGAME

It all comes down to this, the culmination of all the previous MCU films into one big star-studded event. How will they (or will they even) reverse the effects of ‘the snap’? How will they defeat Thanos? This ending chapter (to this arc) answers pretty much everything you’d want to know. And don’t worry, we spend the first half of our review being VERY careful to be spoiler free….and then, with a warning, we go full tilt spoilery. Listen to Chris, Beau, Zach, JC, and Ben say goodbye to an era in this Avengers: Endgame movie review.

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TEEN SPIRIT

No, it’s not the Kurt Cobain biopic (although you’d really think there would be one by now). It’s the directorial debut of actor Max Minghella who is here to tell us the story of a shy Polish girl (Elle Fanning) living in a small European town. She wishes she was singing in front of crowds instead of milking goats (don’t we all). Her chance comes with an American Idolesque show Teen Spirit that is auditioning nearby. Only able to go with the help of a local down-and-out once-celebrated opera singer as her manager, she chases that brass ring. We really love Elle Fanning at Oneofus but were worried this felt more like a vanity project. How does it hold up? Ask Chris and Johnny Neill: they’re ready to serve up their review.

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THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA

The Conjuringverse adds another distant corner to its world (albeit, half-heartedly) with The Curse of La Llorona. Taking place in the 70s we meet Anna (Linda Cardellini). She’s a widow with two young children and a social work job that has led her to a family that believes that an old curse has descended upon her children. La Llorona, the weeping ghost who takes children and drowns them (it’s a whole thing), is apparently not a vengeful specter to be fucked with and lo, soon Anna’s two children are marked for a watery grave. What can stop her? Does the church help? Will Latino mysticism come into it? Can we expect to see Annabelle make a shameless cameo? Chris, Beau, and Ben are here to give you the details.

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HELLBOY

Here’s my impression of me finding out about this Hellboy movie: “Are we really doing this? Are we really abandoning Guillermo Del Toro’s already built universe for, what, a Neil Marshall horror-heavy version with the likeable-but-he’s-no-Ron-Perlman David Harbour taking over the title role? WHY?” Always one to hope for the best and not focus on the bad expectations once I’m in the seat, I said, “Chris, you never know. This could be exactly what this beloved (?) character needed, a fresh start. Let’s find the good”. That was a tall order. Because Hellboy, rather infamously at this point, is NOT good. Not good, at all. So then we go back to the WHY. We do our best to try to make sense of what went so horribly askew here. Listen to Chris, Marco, and Ben do their best to puzzle it out.

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THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT

Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård are cousins who work in high tech but they are tired for working for someone else (namely, their boss played by Salma Hayek) and they want to strike out on their own with the idea of a physical fiber optic line laid between Kansas and Wall Street that would increase communication time by one microsecond. Which, I know, doesn’t sound like much but when it comes to stocks trading, that’s an eternity and billions of dollars. Hayek smells blood in the water and so the two have to stay one step ahead of her and battle against time to get their project finished. Sounds like maybe a heist movie? A wacky comedy? At the very least something based on a true story? It’s none of those things. As to what it IS, you’ll have to listen to Ben, Chris, and Frank in their review.

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MISSING LINK

In this new animated film from Laika studios, Hugh Jackman plays a ‘myths and monsters investigator’ (IE: cryptozoologist), Sir Lionel Frost. Sir Frost wants nothing more than to be accepted by his adventuring peers led by the mustache-twirling Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry). Unfortunately, he’d rather see Sir Frost die from his hired thug (Timothy Olyphant) than accept him into their ranks. An adventure to find the Sasquatch leads him to the creature (Zach Galifianakis) who turns out to want nothing more than to find others like him. A pact is made to get the newly dubbed Mr. Link to the snowy home of the possibly mythical Yeti. To do it, they’ll need the help of a map in the possession of Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana) who isn’t thrilled about the idea. Will they survive their harrowing journey? Could this possibly live up to Laika’s last film Kubo and the Two Strings? All these answers and more in the review with Chris, Beau, and Michael right here.

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LITTLE

Are you ready for a new spate of body-switching comedies? I mean, this is technically someone just de-aging, but it’s the same formula more or less. Regina Hall used to be the nerdy science girl in school everyone picked on. Now she’s powerful, rich, and the one who does the bullying of all her cowering employees and especially her personal assistant (Issa Rae). But when a little girl puts a curse (magic spell, whatevs) on her, she becomes her childhood self again (Marsai Martin) and has to rely on her assistant’s help to keep things together at work while she negotiates her biggest fear: going back to her old school. Check out our review with Chris, George, and Alan and see why Little isn’t as bad as you’d imagine (but probably not too far off either).

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HIGH LIFE

I know some of you would like to ship Robert Pattinson out to space but I can only assume you’ve not been watching his post-Twilight output. He’s really proven himself as an actor and someone who likes to work with really interesting directors. High Life is no exception to that as he’s being lensed by the legendary (if you’re French or really dig art films) Claire Denis. He plays one of a group of prisoners that have agreed to go on a possibly suicidal space mission to study a black hole in exchange for their freedom. Told in a non-linear fashion we are initially shown that Pattinson, and an infant, are the only survivors. What happened to Mia Goth, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin, and the rest of his shipmates?High Life reveals the mystery at its own pace. And Chris and Alan reveal their feelings about High Life. Check out the review here.

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SHAZAM

The very first comic book superhero to get adapted into a film (in 1941) finally gets a second round with the release of the DCU film Shazam. Once a more popular hero than even Superman, the originally titled Captain Marvel (forced to change his name over a lawsuit with DC, and 20 years after that being bought by them) this oft-ignored character in the modern day has finally gotten his chance to come back. And so has the DCU, some would say. Zachary Levi is Shazam. And so is Asher Angel. See, Shazam is actually a 15-year-old kid named Billy Batson, going from foster home to foster home as he refuses to give up the search for his missing mom. After defending a handicapped fellow foster kid (Jack Dylan Grazer) from bullies, an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou) from the last of a line of protector wizards summons him and gives him the magic power of Shazam. So, whenever he says his name, he becomes the fully adult Captain Mar…er…Shazam. At first what we’re dealing with here is the old Tom Hanks movie Big (which the movie decidedly tips its hat to), with a goofy montage of ‘what powers do I have’ and lots of ‘gee whiz’. Eventually, we get to the big bad, Mark Strong as Sivana, a former potential Shazam candidate who was found ‘not worthy’ and since has spent his life looking for validation that his experience really happened, only to come into magic powers (but f’d up ones) himself. How does this rank in the sizable field of superhero films? Listen to Chris, Alan, Ben, and Zach give you the details.

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THE AFTERMATH

It is the end of WWII and Germany is a bombed-out mess. People struggle to survive as allied troops move in for the reconstruction. Keira Knightley is an Englishwoman joining her colonel husband, Jason Clarke, in Hamburg, as he proceeds with the operation. They are sequestered in a sizable mansion that belongs…or belonged…to an architect and his teenage daughter. Having seen the camps where German survivors are being placed, Clarke feels that with such a huge house it would be crappy of them to force the two to leave, much to his wife’s chagrin. But Clarke is busy with the military operations and gone a lot and the architect is played by Alexander Skarsgård so OMG SEXY TIME. How can a forbidden romance movie with Knightley and Skarsgård not be smoldering? We had VERY different opinions as to the quality of this film in our review. Listen to Chris, George, and Ben fight it out.

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DUMBO

Disney has been making mad bank off these live-action-ish remakes of their classic animated properties so here comes the weird mutated baby no one wanted…oh, except for of course Tim Burton. It’s kinda his whole schtick. The tale of the little elephant with giant ears who can fly has been DRASTICALLY changed for this version (before you ask, no crows). Michael Keaton most notably joins the story as, erm, evil Walt Disney? He wants the little elephant for his own and screw everybody else. Other than that you have Colin Farrell looking disarmed as he tries to figure out what he’s supposed to be doing in this film, Eva Green as a trapeze artist who…well, pretty much the same as Farrell, and Danny DeVito as the character who actually seems alive. So yeah, not big fans. But listen to Chris, Alan, and Frank on the review to see how it all played out.

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THE MUSTANG

The Mustang is basically an advertisement for a program that lets convicts train wild horses to be brought to auction. However, considering that, as the film touts, it boasts the lowest recidivism rate for prisoners involved with it, we’ll let that slide. Matthias Schoenaerts plays an incarcerated violent felon. Laconic and misanthropic, he would rather keep to himself but the prison’s psychologist (Connie Britton) gets him a job working outside by the horse stables for the aforementioned program. He’s just shoveling manure but crabby horse-breaking show-runner Bruce Dern spots him and puts him on the team. How well can that go for a guy who can’t even relate to other humans without getting violent? Check out Chris and Alan on the review.

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GLORIA BELL

Academy award-winning director of A Fantastic Woman in 2017, Sebastián Lelio, follows up his win with the English language remake of his 2013 Chilean film Gloria. What you’ve got here is a display piece for Julianne Moore’s impressive talents as a performer…but not a whole heckuva lot else. Here she plays Gloria, a long-divorced empty-nester who is looking for something outside of her day-to-day lonely life. Going to discos at night, she unenthusiastically seeks companionship and ends up with Arnold (John Turturro). He seems great at first but maybe there’s more to him than meets the eye. Or less. We were kinda mixed about this one but still admitted there was plenty to admire about it. Listen to Chris, Ben, and Beau give their review.

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RUBEN BRANDT, COLLECTOR

HOLD UP! DO NOT MOVE. I know, this title doesn’t exactly grab you. But what if I told you this was one of the best films we’ve seen yet in 2019 and in fact, one of the most innovative animated films ever made? Uh-huh. So stick around while Chris, Beau, and Alan describe the film Ruben Brandt, Collector to you. The story follows the titular Ruben who is a famous (and unreasonably successful) art therapist who takes 4 of his patients who happen to be master thieves and gets them to steal the world’s greatest paintings for him. Very odd, very fast-paced, filled with equal parts cool action and fine-art meta-humor (yes, now that’s a thing), the film left our critics deeply impressed. Check out their review here.

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US

Jordan Peele’s sophomore effort as a director, Us, may not be so much a ‘horror comedy’ as his first filmGet Out, but it is no question, a horror movie. Well, just ask him…Case closed. Lupita Nyong’o plays Adelaide, happily married to Gabe (Winston Duke) with their two kids Zora and Jason. It’s holiday time and the fam is all packed up to stay in a summer home on the lake and near the beach where Adelaide originally grew up. Only something is haunting her. A past, a memory, a doppelganger, a funhouse on the beach…what happens when those memories, and an entire family of crazed doppelgangers, come to call? Peele explores this and the dark underbelly of America’s past (metaphorically) in this horror (NOT THRILLER…NO, I WON’T LET THIS GO) that also stars Elizabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Listen to what Chris, Marco, Ben, and Patience had to say about it…

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CAPTAIN MARVEL

Wow, the 21st film in the MCU and still going strong. This time the story goes back to the 90s in this kinda prequel to the entirety of the film series with Brie Larson as an amnesiac space soldier and member of an alien race who when she ends up on Earth searching for a shapechanging enemy terrorist (Ben Mendelsohn) she teams up with a young and very much alien-naive Nick Fury (Sam Jackson) to deal with the aliens, investigate her memory flashbacks that seem to involve the Earth, and generally blast the hell outta the haters. How does it stack up in the Marvel Movie line-up? Beau, Chris, and Harris not only deliver a history of the character in comics but their review of the movie right here.

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CLIMAX

Gaspar Noé is kinda a madman. No one makes more extreme, ambient, experiential, experimental films than him (that get a wide release, anyway). His latest film Climax is certainly no exception. Sofia Boutella is the only recognizable actor here, as a lead member of a group of French dancers throwing a party in an abandoned school. These guys like to party but whoo boy. It shortly turns out that someone in their group has dosed the sangria with some sort of extreme hallucinogen and oh shit…we’re definitely watching a Gaspar Noé film here. Much like his other films, Climax is not for your casual filmgoer. But how does it rank with Chris and Alan? Listen to this Climax Movie Review to find out.

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GRETA

Director Neil Jordan tries his hand at the obsessive stalker thriller sub-genre with Greta. This time it’s the previously stalked (in Elle) Isabelle Huppert doing the stalking and the stalkee is little girl lost Chloë Grace Moretz, a self-proclaimed naively sweet girl doing her best to not be eaten alive in the big city of New York. When she finds a purse left on the subway, despite her roommate’s (Maika Monroe) exhortations to take the money out and be done with it, she tracks down the owner. The seemingly adorable French lady (Huppert) is grateful to receive her property and starts a friendship with the young girl, who is grateful for an older woman in her life as her own mother passed away recently. But lo, this older lady is CRA-ZEE and shit goes sideways. Way sideways. Check out our Greta movie review with Chris, Frank, and Beau.

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HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD

Hiccup and his lovable dragon Toothless return in this third and final (?) chapter in the How To Train Your Dragon trilogy that has been surprisingly quite excellent so far. This time, dragon overpopulation and a nasty new dragon hunter (F. Murray Abraham) put the dragons in danger and Hiccup seeks for a way to ensconce them in the titular Hidden World…but humans aren’t welcome there. Will this break up the friendship? Will Toothless get it on with a White Fury dragon (phrasing) and make adorable little Fury-draglets? Listen to our reviewing crew of Ben, George, and Matt Frank discuss.

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NEVER LOOK AWAY

Are you ready for over three hours of German Academy Award-nominated viewing? Well, our critics Alan and Lara sure were. Now you can hear for yourself whether it’s worth your time to see that Best Foreign Language film nominee and I think I can safely say that they voted AYE. The story follows the life of art student Kurt Barnert (Tom Schilling), who is loosely based on the famed painter Gerhard Richter (who disavows the movie, but whatever). It follows decades of his life, his love story, the Nazis, the Russians, and more. Despite its running time, it sounds like our reviewers found it mesmerizing. But don’t trust me, listen to the review right here.

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EVERYBODY KNOWS

Two-time Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi returns with this mystery film featuring two actors we’ll ALWAYS watch together onscreen, Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz. During a big family wedding in a small town outside Madrid, Cruz’s teenage daughter is kidnapped. While the big extended family tries to figure out where the money will come from for the ransom, fingers are pointed, old scandals are brought to light, and everyone is a suspect. But will this live up to Farhadi’s previous two winners, A Separation and The Salesman? Chris and Frank are here to give you the goods.

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ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?

Rebel Wilson hates romantic comedies. Well, no, probably not, but her character in Isn’t it Romantic sure does. As she’s more than willing to tell anyone who’ll listen. In detail. For some time. But when she hits her head she wakes up inside of the tropeyist, Rom-Com fantasy world imaginable with every cliche she detests and finds she has no choice but to play through it to be able to get back to her own world. Such as it is. Lessons are learned. Songs are sung. Our critics had mixed reactions but overall…hey, not so bad. Listen to Chris, Kim, and Ben give their review.

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ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL

Robert Rodriguez got the job of adapting the popular classic manga Battle Angel: Alita but when James Cameron is watching over your shoulder, well, you tend to step it up. Rose Salazar (plus some CG big-ass eyes) plays Alita, a cyborg whose pieces were found in a junk pile by Dr. Ido (Christoph Waltz) who reconstructs her but she can’t remember her past. But when danger rears its head, her battle instincts kick into play and it’s clear that her past might be pretty complicated and pretty dangerous. Lots of ass-kicking follows and there was more than enough top-notch F/X and action sequences for us all to recommend Alita, but it’s definitely not without its problems. Listen to Chris, Harris, Matt, and JC give their review.

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HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U

The sequel to 2017’s surprise hit with both audiences and critics is here and…quite frankly, given the track record of horror sequels to big commercial hits, I’m not sure we were expecting much. The sequel returns pretty much the ENTIRE original cast and shakes things up again, with surprises and plot-change-ups all over the place and the comedy even more dominant than in the original. In fact, the entire movie was a big surprise in the tonal changes which pleased some of our critics more than others. Listen to Chris, George, and Ben do their review.

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THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PIECE

Everything WAS awesome but now, in this sequel to the surprise hit The Lego Movie, the world of Bricksburg has become Apocalypseburg; the decision by Will Ferrell’s character at the end of the last movie to let his kids play with his exquisitely crafted Lego town has led to ruin. Especially by the little sister who has brought in the destructive and haphazardly built Duplo beasts. Regularly, the Lego wasteland is raided by aliens from the ‘Sistar’ system but our protagonist, Emmett, still sees the world through awesome-colored glasses, much to the chagrin of everyone around him. That is, until the aliens come for his best friends and lady-love. Emmett must hitch-up his courage and go on an adventure beyond the Stairgate, rescue his friends, and stop the fabled ‘Our-Mom-Ageddon’ from happening. But, what you’re asking yourself is this: a lot of the success of that first movie was due to the sheer shock that a Lego movie could be as good as it was. Does the sequel have a shot at being as good? Listen to Chris, Ben, Alan, and Beau weigh in.

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THE PRODIGY

It may have taken director Nicholas McCarthy awhile to get going on his directorial career, but at age 40 he released the low-budget, but much beloved The Pact. Now, on his third film, Nic takes on the ‘demon seed’ genre of horror films, telling the story of Miles, a genius child. Also, a child who might be possessed by something evil, or that’s what his mom (Taylor Schilling) thinks. Things go bump in the playpen and our critics, Patience, JC, and Miguel, think that’s kinda ok. Listen to their review right here.

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CAPERNAUM

It’s time to start watching all the Oscar nominees that we missed along the way and Capernaum, a Lebanese film up for Best Foreign Language Film, leads the pack. This moving drama follows a 12-year-old boy as he becomes disconnected from his grifter family and ends up having to take care of an infant child himself. We didn’t all see eye-to-eye exactly on this one, but there were few complaints. Listen to Chris, Marco, and Ben in the review.

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MISS BALA

Director Catherine Hardwicke brings us this remake of a Mexican film featuring Gina Rodriguez as an innocent caught up in Tijuana between the charismatic leader of a drug cartel who has abducted her (Ismael Cruz Córdova), a super-corrupt police force, and the slimy DEA who don’t care if she gets hurt or if she’s guilty or not as long as she helps them. Eventually, she’s gonna blow and start shooting folks, that much is sure. But does it happen soon enough? Listen to the review with Chris, Lara, and Aaron to find out.

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STAN & OLLIE

Two of the most beloved stars of the post-vaudeville/early film comedy scene, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, are given the ‘final days’ biopic treatment here by Jon S. Baird starring respectively Steve Coogan and (the already nominated) John C. Reilly. Largely looking at their final European tour, Stan & Ollie is certainly bittersweet and melancholy but in a good way. Listen to Chris, Ben, Marco, and Alan give their review.

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SERENITY

Are you ready for this? I don’t think you’re ready for this. NO ONE was ready for this. Matthew McConaughey is a private fishing boat captain obsessed with this really big tuna he can’t seem to catch. Djimon Hounsou is his reluctant first mate. Anne Hathaway is his ex who shows up to say that her rich, abusive husband, Jason Clarke, needs to die and she’ll pay him to do the deed. And then a bunch of weird TWIST COMING stuff happens. This is…inexplicable. But we do our best. Listen to Chris and Lara review the movie that Chris calls, “The Showgirls of Black Mirror episodes”.

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THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING

]Joe Cornish, who previously brought us the delightful Attack the Block, finally got off his duff and directed a second film, strongly making the case that when it comes to working with child actors and genre adventure films he’s at the top of his game. A young boy in modern day finds Excalibur in a stone and discovers he has to learn the nobility of the knights (and teach others) in order to stop the return of King Arthur’s half-sister and greatest enemy, Morgana Le Fay. Chris, Michael, and Ben got to see this and can’t wait to tell you about it.

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GLASS

M. Night Shyamalan returns to the universe of his second film Unbreakable with this sorta combo-platter of movies. Glass features from that film Bruce Willis as David Dunn, a super-strong/somewhat invulnerable real-world superhero as well as his counterpart villain, Samuel L. Jackson as the mega-intelligent Mr. Glass. From M. Night’s last film Split (which added on an easter egg at the very end tying it to the Unbreakable film) James McAvoy returns as the serial killer with multiple personality disorder, Kevin Crumb who’s got a more-than-human beast inside. The three of them are held at a psychiatric institute by a doctor who specializes in people who believe they have superpowers (Sarah Paulson). I’m sure nothing will go wrong with her incredibly well-thought-out plan. :/

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ON THE BASIS OF SEX

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become a very visible (albeit old and shrunken) hero to the left of late and the documentary about her life RBG was celebrated as one of the year’s best. So, of course here comes Hollywood with the not-even-close-to-as-good biopic about her; well…Ruth when she was young and sexy, as played by Felicity Jones with Armie Hammer as her equally young and sexy husband. The film picks a time to focus on and that is her post-collegiate years trying without success to get an actual job as a lawyer (which generally, if anything, she was overqualified for) and then the first sex discrimination case she got to argue which was a landmark event and the beginning of her successes in that legal field. But does it feel real? Is it fun to watch? Listen to Chris, Frank, and Ben lay out their cases.

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THE UPSIDE

As I’ve been saying since 2011, that French film The Intouchables is great. So funny and heartfelt. You can rent it from Amazon or other places and you WILL NOT regret it. Or, I guess, if you’re one of those BUT SUBTITLES people, you can watch this Americanized version of the true story with Bryan Cranston as a wealthy, cranky, quadriplegic who hires irreverent, criminally inclined, parolee Kevin Hart to be his caregiver (largely just to be difficult). Despite all logic, the two become friends and yadda yadda magical life transforming…you get the gist. Nicole Kidman is in this thing too. Listen to Chris, Ben, and JC give their reviews.

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ESCAPE ROOM

Five attractive young people meet when they get a mysterious invitation to an extremely well-funded Escape Room game. All being very different people they have to find ways to work together to survive the game as one room leads into another becoming increasingly more elaborate…and deadly. There, I’ve written the logline for the film. Can I go now? Wait, it’s by the guy who did The Taking of Deborah Logan? That was pretty good, And it’s got Tyler Labine (Tucker and Dale vs Evil), Logan Miller (Love, Simon) and Deborah Ann Woll (Daredevil) in it? Maybe we’re actually on to something here?

WHAT WILL OUR TEAM OF INTREPID CRITICS DECIDE? WAS IT WORTH CHRIS, ALAN, AND KIM’S VOYAGE TO THE THEATER TO SEE A JANUARY HORROR FILM OR ARE THEY LESSER FOR IT? TURN TO PAGE 23 FOR “IT WAS WORTH IT” OR PAGE 72 FOR “NOW THEIR BRAINS ARE MUSH”.

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IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

Barry Jenkins follows up his Best Picture-winning Moonlight with this adaptation of a lauded 1970s novel. The story follows a young African-American couple (Kiki Layne and Stephen James) who fall for each other deeply only for James to get falsely accused of a crime and sent to jail right as Layne discovers she’s pregnant. The story follows the family’s attempt to free James and it explores the depth of police corruption, brutality, and racism rampant at the time while still holding that candle of love up high out in the darkness. Your critics for this one are Ian, Frank, and Lara. Why not listen to what they have to say?

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VICE

The director and writer of The Big Short returns to take on more ‘spoonful of sugar’ political stories with his biopic of George Bush’s Vice-President, Dick Cheney. Christian Bale does the full body transformation again (he says for the last time) into the considerably heftier Cheney with Amy Adams playing his wife Lynn. It’s hard to list all the great performers in this film playing recognizable figures from the Republican party. You can check out the Wiki page for that. But can we say what an odd and comedic way this is of telling a true story that arguably put us directly in the nightmarish political space that American currently finds itself in? We all agree on that, but there are some diametrically opposed viewpoints on whether or not it’s hysterical or just depressing. Listen to Chris, Ben, Frank, and Alan argue it out.

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DESTROYER

Nicole Kidman plays the roughest version of herself imaginable in the new film from the director of Girlfight and The Invitation, Destroyer. She plays a police detective who once many years previous went undercover with Sebastian Stan into a Los Angeles gang and (apparently) it ended tragically. All these years later and it appears that the leader of the gang who got away is back and sending a message to Kidman. Can she get past her alcoholic haze and extreme burn-out to deal with the situation? Listen to Chris, CJ, Alan, Lara, and Frank review.

WELCOME TO MARWEN

Robert Zemeckis directs (and believe me, he won’t let you forget it) Welcome to Marwen, a narrative adaptation of the amazing 2010 documentary Marwencol. In this ‘heightened reality’ version, Steve Carell plays Mark Hogancamp, an artist who was beaten nearly to death in a hate crime. Now, years later, he is starting to recover using an elaborate fantasy town he has built next to his house called Marwen: a WWII besieged Belgian village complete with dolls based on himself and people in his life who act out elaborate stories that he takes pictures of. So art therapy healing, a decent cast of folks including Leslie Mann and Merritt Weaver, impressive use of mocap animation of the actor’s faces onto the dolls…what exactly is wrong here? It’s not so easy to put the finger on but Chris, Frank, Marco, and Alan do their best.

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BEN IS BACK

All seems quiet and calm in suburbia in the home of Holly (Julia Roberts) and Neal (Courtney B. Vance) Burns. They go to church, their kids are in the choir and church play, it’s all so very precious. Everything gets shook up when Ben (Lucas Hedges) returns without warning, the junkie son they had all but given up on. Only Holly seems determined to make this work, but even Ben isn’t as sure as she is. When someone steals the family dog, Ben and Holly take off to try and track down some of Ben’s old drug-related connections to see who might have revenge-dog-knapped and things get more than a bit tense. Listen to Ben, Lara, and Alan discuss the mysteries of Ben (the cinematic one, not our critic).

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COLD WAR

Pretty much the other top choice for Best Foreign Language Film this year up against Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, is Polish director Paweł Pawlikowski’s Cold War. Already on the no-brainer list for nomination since his 2015 Oscar win for Ida, Cold War has already made the shortlist. This beautifully shot (in 4:3!) film tells the story of a young singer/dancer and her instructor in Soviet controlled Poland who have a love that goes on for years, often interrupted by separation and political divisions. Listen to Chris, Marco and Frank sing the praises of this one.

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AQUAMAN

James Wan takes this helm of the movie I really thought I’d never see in my lifetime. The DC comics character of Arthur Curry, better known as Aquaman, is played again here by Jason Momoa where he has to work with Mera (Amber Heard) and Vulko (Willem Dafoe) to get a sacred trident so he can take the kingship of Atlantis and stop his brother (Patrick Wilson) and his human ally Black Manta (Yahya Abdul Mateen II) from starting a war with the surface. I can’t say I was honestly surprised by how I ended up feeling about it, but I was kinda surprised by everyone else’s take on it. Listen to Chris, Aaron, Zach, Taylor, and Ben debate the relative merits of the film here.

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CHECK OUT PAGE 26 of HIGHLY SUSPECT REVIEWS

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