By Shane Sellar
If modern video game characters ever came to life, much cooler avatars of everyone you know would overpopulate the world.
Fortunately, the sentient screen villains in this comedy are only 8-bit characters.
When Earth is attacked by an advanced race of aliens based on archaic arcade games like Centipede, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, the U.S. President (Kevin James) recruits his old school gamer friends Sam (Adam Sandler) and Ludlow (Josh Gad) to train Marines.
But when the noobs fail epically, the commander-in-chief must strike a deal with the imprisoned player (Peter Dinklage) who beat Sam in the 1982 World Championships.
While in the right hands this high-concept throwback to the joystick days could have been a nostalgic romp, instead it has been curtailed by the brainless brand of bad ’80s humour its producer Adam Sandler embodies.
Incidentally, to defeat gamers simply stop their supply of ADHD medication.
The great thing about Jurassic World is that the vegetarian dinosaurs have all been transferred to Euro Jurassic World.
In fact, the carnivorous reptilians populating this sci-fi adventure are designed to be even more ravenous.
With attendance waning, scientists at a living dinosaur destination use DNA from predatory dinosaurs to conceive a genetically altered apex predator to bring the crowds back to the remote island resort.
But when the hungry hybrid escapes its confines, the park’s operations manager (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her visiting nephews (Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson) must rely on the resident Velociraptor wrangler (Chris Pratt) to outwit their astute stalker.
A return to form for the dormant DNA tampering franchise, what Jurassic World lacks in plot, character development and plausibility, it makes up for in rapid pacing, salient visual effects and nonstop thrills.
Incidentally, Jurassic World’s main competition will always be that genetically modified Creationist theme park.
The convenient thing about a town made out of paper is that it can easily be folded into a paper airplane and relocated.
Mind you, the mapmaking term is more of a metaphor in this mystery.
After an unexpected adventure with Margo (Cara Delevingne), the estranged neighbour he grew up with but no longer talks to, high school senior Quentin (Nat Wolff) is stunned when she doesn’t come to school the next day, or the day after that.
Concerned over her disappearance, he and his friends (Austin Abrams, Justice Smith) conduct an investigation based on the cryptic clues she left behind.
Less than the soul stirring coming of age story it hopes to be, this ably acted adaptation of the popular YA novel doesn’t cover any new gawky teen territory even with its missing persons premise.
Moreover, when teen girls stop coming to class it usually means they’re now teen moms.
Typically, it’s the audience that hangs themselves during a high school play.
However, it’s a student swinging from their neck in this horror movie.
On the 20th anniversary of an ill-fated play where a faulty gallows prop claimed the life of teenager Charlie Grimille (Jesse Cross), Beatrice High School decides to stage a repeat performance starring Reese Houser (Reese Mishler) in Charlie’s infamous role.
The night before the performance, Reese, his co-star (Pfeifer Brown), his friend Ryan (Ryan Shoos) and Ryan’s girlfriend (Cassidy Gifford) break into the school to vandalize the set only to discover the legend of Charlie is true – and he’s out for revenge.
Featuring the most nauseating found-footage in the fatigued genre’s history, The Gallows also boasts a laughable villain, and one of cinema’s most obnoxious characters in Ryan Shoos.
Walt Disney was an idealistic man who envisioned the not too distant future as a technologically advanced utopia where the white race reigned supreme.
Luckily for any minorities in this sci-fi movie, his paradise didn’t quite go as planned.
When a prepubescent android (Raffey Cassidy) presents Casey (Britt Robertson) with a pin that temporarily transports her to a science based Shangri-La in a neighbouring dimension, she yearns to return.
However, the only way to do that is to partner with an exiled resident (George Clooney).
With his know-how, Casey not only gets back but also learns from Tomorrowland’s erudite leader (Hugh Laurie) that her reality is in peril.
Imaginative and ambitious, this adaptation of the Disney theme park ride doesn’t skimp on special effects. But while it is visually appealing, its cautionary screenplay is more akin to an ecological guilt-trip.
Incidentally, Utopian societies designed by scientists have absolutely no churches.
The good thing about California falling into the ocean is all of its wildfires will finally be extinguished.
Mind you, the ruptured gas lines, like the ones in this disaster movie, would likely cause more.
A seismologist (Paul Giamatti) testing his earthquake detector at Hoover Dam is shocked to discover shifting tectonic plates under the San Andreas Fault are causing a chain-reaction of 9.1 magnitude earthquakes down the coast.
Meanwhile in L.A., an air rescue helicopter pilot (Dwayne Johnson) and his estranged wife (Carla Gugino) fly to San Francisco to save their daughter (Alexandra Daddario) who’s trapped in a parkade with her mom’s new boyfriend (Ioan Gruffudd).
A commonplace catastrophe epic with jaw-dropping destruction, mind-numbing dialogue and derivative characters, San Andreas mirrors many of its contemporaries in the natural disaster genre but with substandard results – save for the visual effects.
Thankfully, their breast implants will keep most Californians afloat.
In the 1990s all you had to do to get the latest fashion trends was shoot the person wearing the clothes you wanted.
Unfortunately, as this dramedy confirms, nowadays you have to actually purchase your Air Jordans.
When a local pusher (A$AP Rocky) asks him for a favor, ‘90s rap aficionado Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his friends (Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons) find themselves sitting on a backpack of MDMA belonging to a Harvard alumnus (Roger Guenveur Smith).
Although Malcolm agrees to sell the powdered Molly for the cultured kingpin, in exchange, he wants to be accepted into the Ivy League university.
A satirical commentary on the limited career choices for African American males, Dope is a smart and stylish coming-of-age anecdote with notable cameos, an imposing soundtrack, and a charismatic young lead, that never feels preachy or accusatory.
Incidentally, you only have to sell inhalants to get accepted into Yale.
Insidious: Chapter 3
Ghosts that haunt apartments do so because their bad credit rating prevents them from haunting their own home.
The spirit in this horror movie, however, resides on an astral plane.
When a desperate father (Dermot Mulroney) reaches out to retired ghost whisperer Elise (Lin Shaye) for help with his daughter (Stefanie Scott), the widowed spiritualist reluctantly agrees.
Inside the tormented teen’s residence, Elise enters a hypnotic trance where she comes face-to-face with the demonic former tenant that is plaguing the girl.
But when the entity starts preying on her fears, Elise seeks help from two local ghost-hunters (Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell).
Maudlin by horror standards, this weepy prequel to the events of the first two does shed light on Elise’s motivations, but does so in a familiar format leaving little room for surprise, let alone screams.
Besides, old people can communicate with the dead because they’re such close neighbours.
Magic Mike XXL
Women strip their way through college; men strip their way to becoming gigolos.
Still others, like the peelers in this comedy, do it for the fun of disrobing.
Duped into reuniting with his former exotic male dance troop (Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodríguez, Matt Bomer), small-business owner Mike (Channing Tatum) decides to take a sabbatical from his shop to drive to Myrtle Beach with them for a stripping competition.
On the road, their truck brakes down and they must get assistance from a cougar (Andie MacDowell) and her daughter (Amber Heard), as well as Mike’s mentor (Jada Pinkett Smith) and her crew (Donald Glover, Stephen Boss).
With its barely-there plot and clichéd road trip antics, this sequel drops the melodrama of the original and beefs up on the oily bare-chests and heaving homoeroticism.
Incidentally, dry-cleaning is cheap when all your shirts consist solely of cuffs, a collar and bow tie.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
The worst thing about being haunted by a teenager is your grocery bill goes through the roof.
Luckily, the adolescent in this dramedy isn’t an insatiable apparition just yet.
Forced by his parents (Nick Offerman, Connie Britton) to socialize with Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a classmate with leukemia, Greg’s (Thomas Mann) initial visits are as awkward as him.
After exposing her to parodies he and his friend Earl (Ronald Cyler II) filmed, however, their relationship takes on another form.
But those newfound feelings keep Greg from finishing an original film for his fading fan.
While the self-conscious antagonist isn’t anything new to coming-of-age tales, the hefty concept of cancer is. So on that merit alone, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has more poignancy than others in the genre.
Worst of all, when you die young you don’t get the chance to grow old and wish you were young again.
The biggest difference between a television show and a theatrical release is that the movie shows its 20 minutes of commercials at the start.
Interestingly, this transitional comedy came from a network without ads.
After he screens actor Vincent Chase’s (Adrian Grenier) directorial debut, the son (Haley Joel Osment) of his financier (Billy Bob Thornton) demands that studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) cut Vincent’s brother Drama (Kevin Dillion) from the film.
Elsewhere, the other members of Vinny’s retinue: Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and E (Kevin Connolly), work on their relationships with UFC fighter Ronda Rousey and a pregnant Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) respectively.
The cameo-laden feature-film adaption of the cameo-laden HBO series, Entourage is merely an elongated episode, except for the fact that the egos have grown, while the laughs and the show’s likability have waned.
Besides, bringing friends to Hollywood is dumb because now you have three coke habits to support.
He’s a Gallows Humourist. He’s the…