New Releases

Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)
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.
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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Birds of a Feather Carnivale Together

Rio 2 is every bit the equal of its predecessor – a fun, bright animated family comedy infused with bold colors and enlivened with an infectious Latin-influenced soundtrack. It doesn’t tell the most original of stories, and it certainly doesn’t develop the characters in the most original of ways, but given its style and innate likeability, such faults are easy to forgive.
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A Less Pulpy Comic Book Sequel

One of the pleasures of Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger, released in 2011, was its pulp magazine atmosphere. With its nostalgic sepia-toned color scheme, a 1940s-set story about vanquishing the evil Nazi regime, its space opera gadgets and gizmos, and its Superman-like faith in truth, justice, and the American way, it had a wonderful gee whiz sensibility that evoked the Saturday matinee serials of yesteryear.
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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.
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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The Benefits of Not Taking the Toyetic Approach
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Birds of a Feather Carnivale Together
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A Less Pulpy Comic Book Sequel
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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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