REVIEW: ‘Red Sparrow’ Is A Dreary, Unmemorable Cinema Experience

With a name like “Red Sparrow,” you’d think this film wouldn’t be so colorless.

The picture stars Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence as Dominika Egorova, a Russian woman who works as a ballet dancer. Her career is cut short, though, because of a devastating injury and as a result, it puts her future and her ability to care for her ailing mother in jeopardy.

As a way out, Dominika is offered an opportunity to become a spy by her uncle (Matthias Schoenaerts) who works in Russian intelligence. Dominika agrees and after a short time is sent on a mission to target an American agent named Nate (Joel Edgerton).

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REVIEW: ‘Game Night’ Has A Fun Concept But Doesn’t Deliver Enough Laughs

With a cast like “Game Night” features, one would hope that a solid comedy can be found. Unfortunately, as a finished product, the movie isn’t a winner.

Primarily, the film is about a married couple, Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams). The two are immensely competitive and often hold game nights with their friends where they play anything from Scrabble to Charades.

Despite his competitiveness, though, the one person Max can’t seem to beat in competitions is his brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler). Brooks often tries to upstage Max and even hosts his own game night at his luxurious home, impressing many of Max’s friends. However, the game Brooks set up, a pretend murder mystery, ends up going wrong when a kidnapping occurs, leaving Max and his friends to solve real crimes.

“Game Night” is somewhat in the same category as last year’s film “The House.” More or less, it’s about putting law abiding, middle class people into crime situations and hijinks follow. While the concept does thrust the characters into some over-the-top situations, though, many of the comedic attempts are repeated too many times or have a ‘few and far in between’ symptom, with too much dialogue related to weak subplots.

For example, one of the married couples that attend Max and Annie’s game night spend much of their screen arguing over an incident that’s been used in other movies before and has very little payoff.

Additionally, “Game Night” gets dragged down by a series of twists that basically are set up as jokes. More or less, the joke is whether or not something is just set up as a game/prank or if it’s real. The problem is that “Game Night” just runs this into the ground by repeating it too many times.

I was also somewhat surprised that a movie called “Game Night” had very little related to games. I figured maybe the characters would have to play games as a ways to move forward or use their trivia knowledge, but that wasn’t really the case here. Instead it was just used as a setup.

The cast does help things, though. Jason Bateman is always reliable in comedies and it’s no different here. He also has a solid chemistry with McAdams, who’s also pretty good in the picture.

The best cast member, though, is likely Jesse Plemons, who really comes through playing the awkward neighbor. Once he’s in the film more, his character becomes one of the funnier people to watch.

The rest of the characters are a bit hit or miss, though, and the film may have benefited by reducing the amount of people on screen and narrowing the focus on just a few.

“Game Night” does fortunately have a fairly short runtime, clocking in at just an hour and 40 minutes, so it’s not a huge time commitment. Still, this isn’t one to rush out to the theaters for. Check it out on a rental if you want a simple comedy. 2.5 out of 5.

REVIEW: ‘Black Panther’ Is Solid Entertainment With Great Acting, Compelling Characters

Since getting under way in 2008, the movie series from Marvel Studios has included films with genres that stray away from the typical super hero origins. “Captain America: Winter Soldier” was a spy thriller and “Guardians of the Galaxy” was a space opera comedy.

Marvel once again does this for its latest picture “Black Panther.” Instead of telling a super hero centric story, “Black Panther” is a story of nationalism, politics and a monarchy.

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REVIEW: Inexperienced Acting, Weak Script Ruin ’15:17 To Paris’

The 15:17 to Paris” dramatizes the real life story of a group of men who prevented a terrorist attack on a train in 2015. But, while the actions taken by these people were heroic and deserve recognition, the story’s translation to the big screen had poor execution.

The movie follows the three American men who were integral to stopping the attack before there could be loss of life. Those men were Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler. Each of those men reprise their roles in the film, portraying themselves.

The picture showcases how the three met in their youth, Spencer and Alek enlisting in the U.S. military and the three friends going on a trip to Europe. This leads into their time on the train during the attack.

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