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Authors Posts by Tabari McCoy

Tabari McCoy

Tabari McCoy
Columnist - Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. An award-winning stand-up comedian who also works as the public relations director at Cincinnati Museum Center, Tabari McCoy is the creator of McCoy on Movies, a blog about movies for film fans. The blog is written by someone who also likes movies that is smart enough to know his opinion isn't always the right one but is willing to express that opinion in public. McCoy also used to review movies for his college paper and a major metropolitan publication, so that helps add to his "street cred." Contact him at You can also check out more of his work on his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy.

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“Girl, I love you … But you’re kind of killing my left shoulder right now …” Fonny (Stephan James) contemplates his next move while Tish (KiKi Layne) ponders their future in a scene from IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK. Credit: Tatum Mangus / Annapurna Pictures. © 2018 Annapurna Releasing, LLC. All rights reserved.






KEY CAST MEMBERS: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Colman Domingo, Brian Tyree Henry, Michael Beach, Teyonah Parris, Finn Wittrock, Dave Franco, Emily Rios, Ed Skrein and Aujanue Ellis

DIRECTOR(S): Barry Jenkins

THE BACK STORY: Based on the novel of the same name by James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk stars newcomer KiKi Layne as Tish, a 19 year-old New York resident (the opening title card explains why a movie set in NYC takes its title from a famous New Orleans locale) who is in love with Alfonso (Stephan James) – Fonny for short. The young lovers embrace each other completely having known each other for years, producing the sort of romance that young people have dreamed of for centuries.

But their relationship is not without its problems for certain.

There’s Fonny’s sisters (Ebony Obisidian and Dominique Thorne)  and mother (Aujanue Ellis) who doesn’t exactly approve of Tish or the situation she’s gotten Fonny into …. But if you think Tish’s mother (Regina King) or sister (Teyonah Parris) is going to just let them run down their family, however, you, like them, have another thing coming. At least Fonny’s dad (Michael Beach) and Tish’s father (Colman Domingo) get along. Fonny’s friend Daniel (Brian Tyree Henry) is having a rough go of things, too, following his release from prison.

But none of those problems are anything compared to what lies ahead when Fonny is accused of raping a woman (Emily Rios) by a police officer who may or may not have an axe to grind …

THE REVIEW: It’s romantic. It’s majestic. It’s infuriating. It’s depressing. It’s soulful. It’s upbeat. It’s melancholy. It’s heartbreaking. It’s artistic. It’s creative.  It’s hopeful. It’s frustrating. It’s raw and it’s unapologetic. In short, If Beale Street Could Talk is the African-American experience captured in two hours for the world to see.

Certain movies strike cords with certain audiences more than others. For as many people loved Black Panther, the film showed the economic power that African-Americans have in catapulting what could have been just another superhero movie into an Academy Award contender. I mention this because while the critical acclaim for If Beale Street Could Talk is widespread (just Google it – ok, I did the work for you), it’s inherently bound to resonate with African-American audiences just a little bit more than others because of how dynamically it nails down various parts of what being black in America is like today as much as it did when its source material was first published in 1974.

There’s the fragile look of heartbreak and envy Henry gives as his character watches the interplay between Tish and Fonny and knowing he will likely never enjoy it … There’s the #metoo creepiness of watching Tish be subtly sexually assaulted by a white male customer under the guise of shopping … Beale Street delivers more nuanced facets of the struggles many African-Americans face in a country where they are often reminded they are and that there will always be some that view them second-class citizens. The police scenes are why I made the “infuriating” comment above, especially in lieu of the continued incidents like this and this and this and this and … Thus, anyone still wanting to have a conversation to determine their level of “woke” may find Beale Street to be either the perfect conversation starter … or ender.

On a positive note, there are the happy moments that prove the human experience, however has no color and can be enjoyed by everyone. This includes watching Dave Franco’s character bond with Fonny over a potential living space, Domingo and King’s coming to Tish’s aid and the love and chemistry between James and Layne as Fonny and Tish. Forget the earlier commentary made about how the film will strike an extra accord with African-Americans; the way in which screenwriter/director Barry Jenkins (the guy who made 2017’s Academy Awards Best Picture winner Moonlight) shoots their scenes will possibly inspire plenty of accounts in hopes of finding a love like theirs. Layne and James are the heart of the movie, its driving force and its beacon of hope not only for each other, but also the audience watching it.

If Beale Street Can Talk has plenty to say – which is why the words “must see” are the only two you really need in regards to whether or not you should.




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Our movie critic chats with Kiki Layne about her breakout role in “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Watch for the intriguing interview.

Our movie critic chats with Kiki Layne about her breakout role in “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Watch for the intriguing interview.

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Jason Momoa brings credibility and fun to D.C. Comics longstanding fish-out-of-water hero. But is it worth seeing in the theaters? Our movie critic shares his thoughts.


“My Crossfit instructor is going to be so proud!” Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) makes his way through a sea (pun intended) of would-be submarine pirates in a scene from director James Wan’s take on the D.C. Comics iconic character best known to fans as AQUAMAN. Credit: Jasin Boland/ ™ & © DC Comics.  © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment. All rights reserved.



KEY CAST MEMBERS: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Temuera Morrison, Willem Dafoe, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Dolph Lundgren with Nicole Kidman, Graham McTavish, Michael Beach and Randall Park

DIRECTOR(S): James Wan

THE BACK STORY: Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) was born of parents never meant to meet. For his mother Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) escaped the underwater kingdom of Atlantis to forgo an arranged marriage, which is why she fell in love with Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison) and gave birth to a young son. But since she knew the only way to keep him safe was to eventually return, she left young Arthur in Tom’s care, her young child never getting to know the mother he so desperately wished to be able to do. That’s why she made sure to charge Vulko (Willem Dafoe) with raising him in her place, teaching young Arthur the ways of Atlantis to make sure he knows part of where he came from.

Problem is, while Arthur may never meet his mother, he will meet Prince turned King Orm (Patrick Wilson), his vengeful half-brother who is tired of all the pollution and attacks from the “surface world.” That’s why, with the aid of King Nereus (Dolph Lundgren) and his daughter/soon to be Orm’s wife Mera (Amber Heard), he plans to take the war to the surface world and let mankind know their time is up. But since only a true king can stop Orm and his evil ways, Mera seeks out Arthur to stop him before it is too late for both of their worlds. 

Then again, since the pirate who will become known as Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is after Arthur for what he did – or should that be didn’t do for – his father (Michael Beach), it seems like our hero is going to have his hands full.

THE REVIEW: Of all the members of the D.C. Comics world (Marvel kind of has that Universe thing on lockdown), none have been more ridiculed, scrutinized and generally made fun of more than Aquaman. I mean, he was the long-running source of material on the show Entourage (link language NSFW), Robot Chicken has skewered him for years and even the god-awful abomination that was the Justice League movie even poked fun at one of his most well-known abilities. Like Wonder Woman before him (language NSFW), there was no shortage of jokes about his costume, his skills and, in general, the very idea that someone would want to watch a full-length movie about him.

Then came 2017’s Wonder Woman film – and all the jokes stopped. Now, just in time to round out 2018, Aquaman finds itself in a similar boat (pun intended) … And just like his female predecessor,  Arthur Curry is going to get the last laugh since D.C. Comics’ latest solo superhero cinematic adventure is non-stop fun from start to finish.

Momoa, possibly the ultimate bro among leading men right now, brings all the swag Aquaman has never had as a character to life and then some as the film’s lead. Confident and cool, he proves to be more than brooding brawn and massive muscle as he flexes his thespian talents throughout the film. Of course, being a hulking human being certainly doesn’t hurt as every time he thrashes, bashes and/or generally mashes an enemy, it’s never not believable. 

Of course, having a pretty solid cast doesn’t hurt matters, which is why Heard does her best to not just to be a pretty (and extremely) redheaded face throughout the film as Mera. In line with Natalie Portman as Thor’s former love interest Jane Watson in the Marvel Universe, Heard displays a nice Harrison Ford/Kate Capshaw Raiders of the Lost Ark-like chemistry with Momoa, a niche that definitely helps the movie move forward with a balance of antagonistic humor and heart. Wilson is likewise solid as the villainous King Orm; Abdul-Mateen II does seem to be channeling his best Michael B. Jordan/Erik Killmonger rage as secondary villain Black Manta, although one would hope (should the inevitable sequel come to light) he will get to do much more than just huff and buff and try to blown Aquaman’s sea house in. 

Throw in Dafoe and Lundgren as the solid veteran male support with Kidman getting throw in a nice bit of physicality to go with the standard long-lost mother role and you get what most comic book movies should be: fun and energetic with just enough heart to make them last for more than one bucket of popcorn. That’s not even including director James Wan’s work with the rest of his team to create this most fascinating and visually-appealing world in a superhero movie this side of Wakanda and the film brings it in nearly every scene.

Now, as long as Warner Bros./D.C. can get that whole two-Joker movies thing together by the time 2019 starts, maybe D.C. can keep things going in swimming fashion – Aquaman has already done its part to get them there.



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Mortal Engines is a big-budget live-action steampunk movie, but does it lose steam before it reaches its dystopian future finish line? See what our critic has to say.


“Hold on tight, everybody … There’s a movie plot ahead of us to finish!” Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan, left) and Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) look on as Anna Fang (Jihae) drives in a scene from MORTAL ENGINES, directed by Christian Rivers, and written by Fran Walsh, Phillpa Boyens and Peter Jackson (based on the novel by Philip Reeve). Credit: Mark Pokorny / Universal Pictures and MRC. © 2018 Universal Pictures. All rights reserved.




KEY CAST MEMBERS: Hera Hilmer, Hugo Weaving, Jihae, Robert Sheehan, Lelia George, Patrick Malahide, Ronan Raftery and Stephen Lang as Shrike

DIRECTOR(S): Christian Rivers

WEBSITE: http://mortalengines.comTHE BACK STORY: Based on the series of books by Philip Reeve, Mortal Engines is set in a dystopian future where humans have, once again, scorched the earth (which apparently has suffered from massive land shifting, possibly due to earthquakes), leaving little in the way of resources. And town and cities have become rolling landmasses on wheels fighting for them.

That’s right. Cities. Are. Now. On. Wheels. Rollin’ – and the big ones like London led by Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving) devour every city in their path.

But while Thaddeus’ daughter Katherine (Leila George) and local museum worker Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) look up to Thaddeus Valentine, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmer) knows the truth – and the scar she has across her face is one of the reminders she has of Valentine’s truly devious nature. Which is why she is determined to stop him at any cost before he tries to take down the Shield Wall, housing Anti-Traction League, a.k.a. the groups of people like Anna Fang (Jihae) that wish to stop London (and anything like it) from taking over the rest of the new world.The only question is whether or not their efforts will be too late since Valentine’s search for “old tech” is nearly complete …

THE REVIEW: Ever seen a movie that, like a song on the radio, hits all the familiar beats to make it a hit but lacks anything distinct about it to make you remember it? If you’d like the cinematic equivalent of that all-too-familiar feeling, Mortal Engines is like that unnamed band mentioned in the previous sentence.While you can tell its talented lead singer – in this case, the angsty Hilmer – is doing all she can to let the music play while the label tries its hardest to prop up her pretty but not up to the same level of skill co-star (Sheehan) while the co-stars (Jihae) look the part. But when you play listen closely, their lyrics – in this case, Mortal Engines’ inane dialogue/bad one liners – just fail to move you. And while your best friend might make a compelling case (Stephen Lang’s performance as the robotic Shrike is a scene stealer, the rolling cities are cool to watch on screen), you’ll keep pointing out other elements (Weaving’s villain is a poor man’s Star Wars’ baddie, almost every scene feels predictable and a rip-off of a better movie) that just leave you thinking this band is all style over substance. 

If you’re a fan of regular top 40 music, you’ll likely find Mortal Engines to be an enjoyable-enough diversion from constant debates about whether a song from the 1940s no longer fits on modern radio or the type of person who posts on Facebook about you wish you could get away from all the negativity you see everyday. But guess what? That’s not gonna stop people from talking about either of those things – and Mortal Engines, bless its cast’s and crew’s collective hearts, isn’t gonna stop making most people wish it just didn’t seem so familiar.

For it’s the little cinematic engine that could have been better.



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Sony’s latest Spider–Man adventure brings diversity, depth and action to the family-friendly film world, but is it a worthwhile flick? Read on to see what our critic says.


“Man … If there are multiple Iron Men, this is gonna get REALLY confusing!” Peni (Kimiko Glen), Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage) in Sony Pictures Animation’s SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE. Credit: Sony Pictures Animation. © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 







KEY CAST MEMBERS: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Hailee Steinfeld, Luna Lauren Velez, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber, Lily Tomlin, Lily Tomlin, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage and John Mulaney 

DIRECTOR(S): Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman


THE BACK STORY: Ever hear the theory that there are multiple dimensions all existing at the same time? Ever read a Marvel Comic book? If not, the fact that Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore of Dope and The Get Down) – a Brooklyn African-American/Puerto Rican teenager – grows up admiring Spider–Man may not be all that surprising … Until you realize that he, too, like Spider–Man, is bitten by a radioactive Spider right before The Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) is able to do the one thing most super villains haven’t be able to do in any other Spider–Man tale: Kill Peter Parker. 

Or at least, one version of Peter Parker.

As it turns out, the Kingpin’s “Super Collider” – which he has designed for a very specific purpose with the help of one female Dr. Octavious (Lily Tomlin) – has opened up a porthole to other dimensions … Which is why Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) ends up arriving on the scene … As does Gwen Stacy a.k.a. Spider–Woman (Hailee Steinfeld) … And 1930s black-and-white crime fighter Spider–Man Noir (Nicolas Cage) … And Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) and her Spider-Robot from the future … As well as Peter Porker, a.k.a. Spider-Ham (John Mulaney). Yes, Spider–Ham … Don’t believe me? Look here

Now, with the Kingpin and his cronies on the loose and a bunch of other radioactively enhanced people in his world, Miles not only has to deal with newfound powers and responsibilities, but a new school and the biggest issue he can’t seem to conquer: the balancing act he has to keep between his police officer father (Brian Tyree Henry) and his less-than-on-the-up-and-up uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali). 

Needless to say, Miles life – as did the entire world around him – just got a whole lot more complicated than the average teenager these days is likely ready to deal with.

THE REVIEW: When you’ve got an iconic character that has had no less than six solo live action films (not including his Avengers cameos) with three different lead actors playing him, you’ve already got the deck stacked against you. Throw in the fact that you already had an offshoot film release earlier this year from the Spider–Man catalogue (the critically destroyed but fan accepted Venom) and the odds get even worse. To top it all off, let’s make this film throw in a bunch of characters casual fans are unfamiliar with, one of whom its an anthropomorphic talking pig who just so happens to also have been bitten by a spider and you’ve got all the elements in place to produce one of the biggest disasters in the history of animated/superhero film.

That’s why the team behind Spider–Man: Into the Spider-Verse deserves any and all awards they may be nominated for – because despite those odds, they have produced not only one of the best Spider–Man movies ever, but one of 2018’s finest releases, period.

Miles Morales – both in concept and execution as brought to life by the animators and Moore – is a perfect take on a modern teenager. Long before you think of him in any superhero capacity, he is crafted to be relatable on a human level (quite an accomplishment for a cartoon, if you think about it) who’s journey into superhero-hood not only does the legacy of Spider–Men justice, but possibly enhances it as well. Likewise, the family dynamic that has always been essential to the character is fully on display here, as Miles’ desire to be his own person versus taking advantage of all the gifts his parents (and later, that infamous spider) bestow upon him makes for a complex duality in him. It’s not that Miles wants to be a criminal nor is he struggling with being a “goody-goody;” it’s just that he is trying to come into his own as the world around him becomes more and more complicated and complex, which is something people of all ages (and Spider–Man enthusiasts) to which can relate.  Spider–Man’s greatest strength has always been his common man given a great, unexpected gift that he must now use for good mentality; Into the Spider–Verse never loses sight of that ideal and makes that ideal its centerpiece to fantastic effect.

The supporting players serve up elements that compliment the film well as well, be it the self-assured “women can do anything without having to tell you they can” presence of Gwen Stacy and Peni as portrayed by Steinfeld and Glenn, the “what if Spider–Man wasn’t exactly super away from his super hero duties” Parker Johnson makes his own or the comedic elements both Cage and Mulaney bring to their more outlandish characters … But the family dynamic is the film’s heart and soul, whether it is the relationship between Miles and his family or the new one he finds with his fellow spider-people.

Throw in a beautifully alive, animated world and a perfect for the movie but now ironically beautiful (and sad since it will be one of his final if not the final cameo) by Stan Lee with a soundtrack that perfectly fits the film’s (and today’s musical) environment and Into the Spider–Verse is just about everything you could want it to be: Familiar yet original, funny yet serious, hip and street smart while remaining smart as well and entertaining yet poignant.

You can now rest in peace, Mr. Lee along with his former partner Steve Diko … To quote A Tribe Called Quest, “We got it from here. Thanks for your service” – Spider–Man: Into the Spider–Verse makes sure of that.






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Disney’s favorite 8-Bit Superstar returns for a pop-culture savvy sequel. See what our movie critic has to say about it.


“Aw man – I hope this sequel is good enough to make kids forget about Fortnite for a little while!” Ralph (John C. Reilly) and  Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) explore the World Wide Web in a scene from RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT-RALPH 2. Credit: © 2018 Disney. All rights reserved.





KEY CAST MEMBERS: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Gal Gadot, Alan Tudyk, Jane Lynch and Ed O’Neill

DIRECTOR(S): Phil Johnston and Rich Moore


THE BACK STORY: Returning from his smash debut Wreck-It-Ralph, Ralph Breaks the Internet finds our hero (again voiced by John C. Reilly) hanging out with his best friend Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) at the arcade center owned by Mr. Litwak (Ed O’Neill). The problem is that Vanellope’s game “Sugar Rush” is about to get unplugged – permanently. That’s why she and Ralph are heading to the Internet to find a steering wheel to save her game.

But once they enter the Internet, they discover a digital universe for which they couldn’t be less prepared. And given Ralph’s pedigree for wrecking things, it’s a safe bet that the World Wide Web – and his relationship with Vanellope – may never be the same.

THE REVIEW: For about the first 45 minutes of Ralph Breaks the Internet, you might find yourself wanting a break from what seems like a somewhat tepid and unnecessary sequel. Then, in one fantastically self-deprecating scene involving all of Disney’s princesses meeting Vanellope, the entire movie changes for the better and sets in motion a fantastic exploration of pop culture, social media and friendship (did you REALLY think there wasn’t going to be a classic theme in this flick?!).

Once the action picks up, Ralph Breaks the Internet proves itself to be both adult and young adult-alike friendly with clever quips, beautiful animation and easily digestible Disney upbeat enthusiasm. Reilly and Silverman display a great chemistry together, as does Gal Gadot as Shank, the female star of the Grand Theft Auto-style game Slaughter Race that Vanellope comes to idolize. While most films usually rely on their heart – and trust me, there’s plenty to spare in Ralph Breaks the Internet – the pop culture references, self-aware humor and not-so-subtle way it will make the audience look at how we’ve let the Internet influence our lives (both good and bad) are a major factor in what makes the film so entertaining.

And just like your favorite viral cat video, Ralph Breaks the Internet deserves all the views it can get.





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Our movie critic says Claire Foy shines bright in this dark thriller, but is this web worth a visit to the theater?


Why am I burning down this house? I love Talking Heads, OK?! Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) stands outside the Brandmauer Manor in a scene from THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB. Credit: Nadja Klier © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All rights reserved.





KEY CAST MEMBERS: Claire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks,

Stephen Merchant, Claes Bang, Christopher Convery, Synnøve Macody Lund and Vicky Krieps

DIRECTOR(S): Fede Alvarez


THE BACK STORY: The first (kind of) sequel to the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie (and the first that is actually based on a book in the Dragon series not written by original author Steig Larsson), The Girl in the Spider’s Web stars Claire Foy as Lisbeth Salander, the computer-hacking genius who finds herself embroiled in a plot when a computer scientist named Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) contacts her. What does he want? For her to retrieve Project FreeFall from the National Security Agency in the U.S. before it falls into the wrong hands. So, once Lisbeth hacks into the NSA, she draws the attention of agent Edwin Needlam (Lakeith Stanfield) who is on the first plane he can find to Sweden to get to the bottom of things. 

Of course, that wouldn’t be as big a problem if Lisbeth’s little move hadn’t also drawn the attention of a mysterious outfit known simply as the Spiders, a notorious crime syndicate that is about to make itself very well-known to our femme fatale. Calling in the assistance of her journalist friend/sometimes romantic liaison Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), Lisbeth is determined to get to recover the file and keep Frans’ son August (Christopher Convery) safe. There’s just one little problem in her plan she hadn’t counted on: Camilla Salander (Sylvia Hoeks), her sister who has a major plan up her sleeve of her own.

THE REVIEW: Both the original Swedish (starring Noomi Rapace) an American (starring Rooney Mara in her breakout role) Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films were critically acclaimed, dark and moody thrillers that while successful, didn’t quite match the hype of the books in terms of audience excitment. (I mean, the U.S. version did pull in over $200 million, but that might have been the quietest $200 million maker ever. Seriously – didn’t it just seem like the movie kind of came and went?)

Old box office numbers notwithstanding, The Girl in the Spider’s Web continues Salander’s legacy in rousing fashion by finding an actress who seems tailor made for the role in Foy, who is clearer better than the somewhat predictable and heavy-handed foreshadow heavy direction of Fede Alvarez. Foy perfectly captures the sexuality, vulnerability, toughness, intelligence and extremely subtle underlying pain that drives Salander’s life, making the role her own just like the actresses before her. Foy’s presence drives every scene, almost to the point the other actors feel like they are along for her dark and twisted ride.

Foy aside, Spider’s Web plays out a little dry at times, save for the occasional quip by Stanfield. There’s really nothing too dynamic about Blomkvist as Gudnason plays him (Daniel Craig and Michael Nyqvist have nothing to worry about), Hoeks is so dark (ironically, as the palest actress on screen this year) it almost just feels unreal and the secondary characters just don’t have nowhere close the same level of intrigue as Foy character. Throw in a plot that is nowhere near as twisty and turny as it would like you to believe and you have an above average character being called upon to save a rather average story.

Luckily, much like the character she portrays, Foy more than proves she is up to the task.



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Jamie Lee Curtis attempts to breathe life into latest Halloween flick. Read on to see if our movie critic thinks it’s a trick or treat.


“Stop – if you keep walking, they’ll make another sequel!” Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) prepares to take aim at The Shape, a.k.a. Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) in a scene from David Gordon Green’s HALLOWEEN. Credit: Ryan Green © 2018 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.




KEY CAST MEMBERS: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, Haluk Bilginer and James Jude Courtney

DIRECTOR(S): David Gordon Green


THE BACK STORY: Remember EVERY other Halloween movie since the 1978 original that spawned WAY too many sequels and indirect sequels (but surprisingly not a prequel – I better stop before I give them ideas!) Well, don’t – because the 2018 version is supposed to be a sequel to JUST that original film. That’s why Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) – the one babysitter that survived a serial killer’s rampage 40 years ago on Halloween night – is still alive (she did DIE, after all, in Halloween: Resurrection). The trauma of that night has cost her a lot, including a better relationship with her daughter (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter (Andi Matichak).

But Laurie is willing to risk it all for the chance to do one thing and one thing only: The chance to kill the unstoppable kitchen knife-wielding force that is “The Shape,” a.k.a. Michael Myers (now played by James Jude Courtney).

THE REVIEW: For all the hype about this new Halloween movie, one viewing of the film will show you why the phrase “what’s old is new again” is a cliche that still holds its weight in remakes – or in this case, sequels to films that have sequel upon sequel to the point that there’s really not too much new happening at all.

What do I mean by that? Well, let’s see …

  • Is Michael Myers still an unstoppable killing machine? Check.
  • Does NO ONE listen to Laurie Strode until it’s basically too late? Check.
  • Do people get killed at basically random when half of their deaths don’t amount to anything more than “let’s kill this person?” Save for two rather funny ones, check.
  • Is there a version of Dr. Loomis? Check.
  • Is that version of Dr. Loomis just as crazy as Dr. Loomis if not more so? Check.
  • Is there still a bunch of unexplained stuff – both about Michael and why everyone around him finds him so fascinating (save for the new Dr. Loomis character) that if they did, might add some depth? Check. And …

Is there ANYTHING truly groundbreaking that, outside of the die-hard, watched every single entry in the Halloween catalog, can tell you every fact about Haddonfield, Il. and then some fans? Nope. Because when it comes down to it, it’s still the same old story – emphasis on OLD – that you’ve seen several times over. Sure, it’s better than that atrocious mess that was the aforementioned Halloween: Resurrection (seriously – that movie is so dumb it deserves its own ESPN 30 for 30 on it), but unless you’re already all in on the franchise and can’t wait to see it, there is nothing compelling happening here to gain your interest. It’s just another Halloween movie with a few funny moments, enough requisite gore for the hardcore and cast Curtis in a decent light for what should be the last film in the franchise.

Because at this point, I’m not sure if the scariest thing about Halloween is that Hollywood keeps making Halloween movies … Or that audiences keep on turning out to watch them. 





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Jennifer Garner returns to her heroine roots in this new flick. Read on to see if our movie critic says it’s heroic enough to see in theaters.


“Tell me one more time how Ben Affleck is the worst Batman ever … I dare you!” Riley North (Jennifer Garner) pries information out of Judge Stevens (Jeff Harlan) in a scene from PEPPERMINT. Photo Credit: Tony Rivett; Motion Picture Artwork © 2017 STX Financing, LLC. All rights reserved.



KEY CAST MEMBERS: Jennifer Garner, John Gallagher, Jr., John Ortiz, Clifford “Method Man” Smith, Juan Pablo Raba, Tyson Ritter, Annie Ilozeh, Ian Casselberry, Jeff Hephner and Cailey Fleming

WRITER(S): Chad St. John

DIRECTOR(S): Pierre Morel


HERE’S THE STORY: Like many women her age, Riley North (Jennifer Garner) is a happily married woman with a husband (Jeff Hephner) and precocious 10 year-old daughter (Cailey Fleming) she loves. But what she doesn’t know is that her husband is considering doing something less-than-legal to help get his family out of their current financial binds …

Problem is, Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba) – the man Riley’s husband and his friend Mickey (Chris Johnson) thought about ripping off – catches wind of their scheme and decides to make the pay. Dearly. Riley survives the attack, only to see her receive no justice due to a dirty system that lets Garcia’s associates responsible for the attack get off while trying to punish Riley for seeking justice.

Then she goes off the grid for 5 years … And now, Riley North is back. But the Riley North that LAPD detectives Carmichael (John Gallagher, Jr.) and Beltran (John Ortiz) is dead. And a lot of people that wronged her and her family are about to be, too.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Taken fans; people who used to love Alias but always wish it was more violent; feminists; independent women; Jennifer Garner fans; people who like action movies that actually worry about their plausibility a little bit; people who thought if Hollywood was going to remake Death Wish remixing it up a little bit would be a good thing.

WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People not wanting to a watch a movie where guns are used basically without any thought to recourse in the wake of (seemingly) weekly mass shootings; people who don’t like gratuitous violence; anyone who’s over the concept of Death Wish-style revenge movies; anyone who cannot buy into the concept of the Garner’s character doing what Garner does for an 90 minutes-plus

SO IS IT GOOD, BAD OR JUST AWFUL? Peppermint – which takes its name from a scene that does exactly what you think it’s going to do in terms of setting up the rest of the flick – is one of those movies that you watch the trailer, you hear the catchphrases and go ‘Well, that’s pretty much all that’s going on in this joint.” Then you actually watch it and end up going “Well, that was better than I expected.”

As someone who’s seen it, I can tell you without a doubt that Peppermint – which features the most interesting version of anything Jennifer Garner has done character-wise in ages – is a nice 1970s-era exploitation flick with a 2018 flair that is much more enjoyable than you’d expect.

Peppermint works because Garner is fully-committed to the role, looks the part and plays it as straight as one can with a supporting cast that does the same. Much like Eminem on his latest effort Kamikaze, Garner’s North is a woman who feels she has lost everything and now has found a new purpose in life and is determined to make her foes suffer her wrath. But as opposed to going on a rampage with no humanity, North’s new environment makes her feel necessary, a feeling reflected in the film and in turn, is successfully projected to the audience. 

Further helping the film are some minor twists, turns and gunplay/fight sequences that avoid being both hacky and add intensity to the film. Likewise, whereas veteran actor John Ortiz (not to be confused with cast mate Johnny Ortiz) adds a solid creditability factor as Beltran by keeping you guessing who is allegiance is to while making sure the film stays on course, Raba’s performance as Garcia – a villain who actually recognizes the danger Riley presents as opposed to instantly writing her off in classic “you’re gonna regret that!” fashion – makes the build to their eventual showdown equally appealing. 

Make no mistake, however, watching Garner transform from loving soccer mom to basically Ronda Rousey in her UFC heyday coupled with a Seal Team 6-like focus is entertaining and empowering at the same time. Again, she doesn’t play the role with a “I’m gonna show them what a woman can do” fake coolness, she simply is cool because of what she does and how she does it. There is a reason that despite everything that happens in the world, we still will flock to a movie full of gratuitous violence.

If you’re in the mood to watch Jennifer Garner stomp out a seedy Los Angeles full of lowlifes, Peppermint will deliver a sweet treat – with quite a kick.




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Kevin Kwan’s best-selling novel gets the Hollywood treatment. See why our critic says it’s “crazy well done.”


“So … Which of these accessories is going to make Lady Gaga jealous?” Rachel Chu (Constance Wu, right, in red) gets some fashion advice from her college best friend – and the secretly rich – Peik Lin Goh (Awkafina) in a scene from CRAZY RICH ASIANS. Credit: 



KEY CAST MEMBERS: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding, Ken Jeong, Awkwafina, Lisa Lu, Ronny Chieng, Sonoya Mizuno, Chris Pang, Pierre Png, Jimmy O. Yang, Tan Kheng Hua, Remi Hii and Nico Santos

WRITER(S): Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim (screenplay); Kevin Kwan (novel on which the film is based)



HERE’S THE STORY: Based on the best-selling book of the same name by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians stars Constance Wu as Rachel Chu, a New York economics professor who’s happily in love with her Oxord education boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding in his debut feature film). So when Nick asks her to accompany him on a trip home to Singapore for the wedding of his good friend Colin (Chris Pang) to Araminta (Sonoya Mizuno), she happily says yes. And since she’ll be able to see her old college friend Peik (Awkwafina), Rachel is excited to visit the native land of her people since her mother Kerry (Tan Kheng Hua) left Asia before she was born.

That’s when she discovers that not only is Peik rich, but Nick’s family is really rich. Like, crazy rich – and Nick’s mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) is “old world” Chinese in both tradition and practice. 

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? People who enjoyed the novel; fans of people living lavish lifestyles the average person can only dream of; mothers and daughters looking for a good bonding movie; independent women; anyone of Asian descent searching for a major Hollywood film that features their people in a positive, entertaining light; those looking for a film that doesn’t play into the usual romantic comedy/race-centric tropes; Awkwafina fans

WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People with no interest in Asian culture; those will find the slow parts in the film’s first hour too, well, slow; people who always say “the book was better;” people who think you have to be Asian to appreciate the film’s universal themes of love, acceptance and family

SO IS IT GOOD, BAD OR JUST AWFUL? A movie that is essentially a classic love story with modern elements in a setting unfamiliar to many American audiences, Crazy Rich Asians is an entertaining, heartfelt romantic comedy that doesn’t break any new ground as far as romantic comedies go – but breaks plenty in just being a good movie.

Crazy Rich Asians features just about everything you could want in a story: Chemistry between its two leads and supporting characters that, well, save for one or two characters that might seem a like a toned down version of co-star Ken Jeong’s work in The Hangover, are not caricatures of Asians in American eyes. Whereas Wu and Golding (he of British-Malaysian descent) seem like a real couple, Awkafina and Nico Santos – who plays Nick’s fashion and family-conscious cousin Oliver T’Sien – steal every scene they’re in with their good-natured, perfectly timed and well-meaning quips. Likewise, whereas Yeoh plays the role of the seemingly icy family matriarch with a good duality to her like many a Marvel Universe villain – she’s is cautious to never operate at one extreme at any one time – and Gemma Chan plays her role as Nick’s beautiful yet personally suffering in her relationship with her husband Michael (Pierre Png) in a way that feels extremely real (and thus inspiring without going out of her way to be so). 

Beautifully shot by director Jon M. Chu as essentially a tourist agency’s dream video postcard for Singapore, the film presents some of the best visuals captured on film this year, acting as the perfect backdrop for the film’s characters to play, love and learn throughout their respective journeys. Throw in a soundtrack that interpolates classic American songs of various genres in native Asian tongues and Crazy Rich Asians is the type of film that will feel revolutionary when in fact it’s simply more evolutionary.

For given how solid the film is, hopefully Crazy Rich Asians marks the evolution of an industry that has long underserved the Asian moviegoing population but at the same time proves a movie like this can entertain anyone.