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Weighty ‘Gravity’ is a breathtaking and stunning film

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Written by Joe Bell Friday, October 11, 2013 11:31 am

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play two astronauts stranded in space in ‘Gravity.’ Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play two astronauts stranded in space in ‘Gravity.’

“Gravity” is an amazing, visually stunning film – truly an experience to behold. This triumph of special effects and cinematography transports viewers emotionally and mentally, so see it in 3-D and Imax if you can, and prepare to be taken away. While the actual themes are light, the movie is so well constructed and executed that it ranks up there as one of the most astonishing films of the past few years.

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Cinemania> It’s love vs. porn in JGL directorial debut ‘Don Jon’

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Written by Joe Bell Friday, October 04, 2013 11:59 am

Scarlett Johanssen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in 'Don Jon.' Scarlett Johanssen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in 'Don Jon.

In the technology- and image-obsessed world we live in, we've lost what it means to be truly intimate. That's the stance the movie “Don Jon” takes. This hilarious and subversive romantic comedy centers on an aggressively dumb Lothario who learns that real people are much more substantial than his self-obsessed view of the world.

 

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Cinemania> Intense and mysterious ‘Prisoners’ is a potent morality tale

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Written by Joe Bell Friday, September 27, 2013 03:34 pm

 Jake Gyllenhaal, left, and Hugh Jackman use contrasting tactics to find two missing girls in Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Prisoners.’ Jake Gyllenhaal, left, and Hugh Jackman use contrasting tactics to find two missing girls in Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Prisoners.’

“Prisoners” is a creepily effective crime thriller elevated by brilliant director Denis Villeneuve in his studio debut. Villeneuve has taken a serviceable script and turned it into a moving and engaging mystery, plus a quietly powerful morality play that hooks viewers with amazing performances.

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Cinemania> Gory violence is played for laughs in ‘The Family’

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Written by Joe Bell Monday, September 23, 2013 12:13 pm

Robert De Niro is brilliant as a man hiding out in the Witness Protection Program, but the gore is over the top in director Luc Besson’s ‘The Family.’ Robert De Niro is brilliant as a man hiding out in the Witness Protection Program, but the gore is over the top in director Luc Besson’s ‘The Family.’

In “The Family,” Robert De Niro is Giovanni Manzoni, a former made man forced to hide out in the Witness Protection Program with his crazy family after ratting out the Brooklyn mafia. His family members – violent psychopaths with no moral fiber – have serious trouble keeping themselves in check; they terrorize the small French town where they have relocated and blow their cover every chance they get.

The premise is great, and you almost wish it was played straight. Instead of laughing it off, the film could have dealt with these set pieces in a more serious way. But the violence is played for laughs, and it's a shame, because this isn't an impossible endeavor.

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Cinemania> Unhinged ‘Riddick’ is Vin Diesel at his best

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Written by Joe Bell Friday, September 13, 2013 03:30 pm

‘Riddick’ loses some of its spark after the first half-hour but is entertaining enough. ‘Riddick’ loses some of its spark after the first half-hour but is entertaining enough.

The first film in this series, “Pitch Black,” was a low-key, character-driven sci-fi action film and a bit of a cult favorite. “The Chronicles of Riddick” was a sprawling, epic space opera that managed to bore most audiences to tears. “Riddick,” the third movie in a franchise that most people probably forgot – if they were aware it existed in the first place – is entertaining enough for an end-of-summer release, even though it’s rather hollow.

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Cinemania > Car chase movie ‘Getaway’ is a complete wreck

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Written by Joe Bell Thursday, September 05, 2013 06:15 pm

 Selena Gomez is a teen carjacker and Ethan Hawke is a disgraced former racecar driver whose wife is kidnapped in ‘Getaway.’ Selena Gomez is a teen carjacker and Ethan Hawke is a disgraced former racecar driver whose wife is kidnapped in ‘Getaway.’

“Getaway” is a go-for-broke action movie that sacrifices plot and character development for explosions and car chases. And while that can sometimes be pulled off successfully, “Getaway” takes itself far too seriously for this approach to work.

If you do see this movie – which you shouldn't – prepare yourself for the worst. It's an incomprehensible puzzle of a thriller that hinges on its audiences being dumb enough to think what's happening is cool. It lacks tension and can't even rely on humor to make it work.

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Cinemania> Beer-buddy flick ‘The World’s End’ taps into sci-fi with uproarious results

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Written by Joe Bell Friday, August 30, 2013 04:02 pm

Nick Frost, Gary King, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine are middle-aged men who return to their hometown to complete a 12-stop pub crawl. Nick Frost, Gary King, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine are middle-aged men who return to their hometown to complete a 12-stop pub crawl.

I walked into “The World’s End” with the highest expectations. The previous collaborations between director Edgar Wright and star Simon Pegg are two of my favorite comedies of all time. Both “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” paid tribute to a specific genre while creating something truly hilarious and exciting in their own right.

This film exceeded my expectations, and was without a doubt the best comedy of the summer and my favorite film-going experience of the year thus far.

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Cinemania > Ashton Kutcher stands out in grandiose biopic ‘Jobs’

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Written by Joe Bell Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:07 pm

Aston Kutcher nails the role of Steve Jobs, the former head of Apple. Aston Kutcher nails the role of Steve Jobs, the former head of Apple.

Ashton Kutcher stands out in grandiose biopic ‘Jobs’

“Jobs” opens with the introduction of the iPod at an Apple conference in 2001. Dramatic music swells and lens flares flash as Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) announces the device as a "tool for the heart." Before he even pulls it from his pocket, the crowd goes wild.

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