REVIEW: ‘Miss Bala’ mostly misses the mark

So the name of the movie is “Miss Bala” but a big part of the film has to do with a beauty pageant called “Miss Baja.” Consider me somewhat confused.

Anyway, “Miss Bala” follows the character Gloria (Gina Rodriguez), a young woman who takes a trip to visit her friend in Mexico. During her time there, she and her friend go out to a night club. A fun night out turns deadly, though, when a cartel shooting takes place and Gloria barely makes it out of the crossfire. Unfortunately, despite getting out of the club safely, Gloria soon learns that her friend, Suzu (Christina Rodlo), is missing.

As a result, Gloria begins exploring her surroundings to find her friend. However, in doing so, she’s dragged into a dangerous situation involving both a powerful cartel and United States Drug Enforcement Administration agents.

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REVIEW: Poor twist sinks ‘Serenity’

On the surface, “Serenity” looks like a film maybe worth checking out. Written and directed by a filmmaker with plenty of experience along with a cast of Oscar winners and nominees, it seems like it could be fine.

However, one should beware of what lies beneath.

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REVIEW: By-the-books ‘Upside’ has its moments

“Upside” is a film with both ups and downs, leaving the overall quality of this film about friendship somewhere in the middle.

The film follows the story of Dell Scott (Kevin Hart), a man out on parole, estranged from his family and looking for a new job. In his search, he crosses paths with Philip (Bryan Cranston), a billionaire who became disabled in an accident and is in need of a life auxiliary.

In a state of depression and with little care to who works for him, Philip decides to hire Dell. Despite both being unenthusiastic about the situation, the two eventually form a friendship which is explored through the rest of the picture.

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REVIEW: ‘Replicas’ is a total misfire

Oof. This one was rough.

“Replicas” features Keanu Reeves as Will Foster, a scientist working at a research company, specializing in downloading a person’s mind and digitizing it. The goal is to be able to store the mind and transfer it, should a person’s body become destroyed in an accident, for example.

Unfortunately, that’s just what happens to Will’s family. Stricken by grief, and having access to amazing technology, Will, along with his assistant Ed (Thomas Middleditch), decide to conduct an experiment to clone and recreate the family, and transplant the brain data, as a way to bring them back to life.

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REVIEW: While cliched, ‘Basis of Sex’ is still inspiring

A Supreme Court justice now has a superhero origin story.

“On the Basis of Sex” tells the story of how Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) entered the world of law and began a career focused on equal rights. That career, of course, would lead to her becoming a justice on the United States Supreme Court.

“Basis” begins with Ginsburg attending Harvard University’s law school and follows this up with her time as a professor at Rutgers University. The latter is where she would take on a case where the nation’s tax code discriminated on the basis of sex.

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REVIEW: A walk in ‘Beale Street’ is worth taking

No matter what neighborhood you grew up in, you will leave this movie knowing how it feels to live on Beale Street.

“If Beale Street Could Talk” follows the story of a young woman named Tish (Kiki Layne) and her boyfriend Alonzo (Stephan James), who’s sitting in jail because a police officer suspected him as the assailant in a rape case.

As the movie goes on, Tish is coming to terms with the fact that Alonzo was wrongly accused while also learning that she’s become pregnant. Over the course of the picture, Tish goes through the stages of her pregnancy while also trying to clear Alonzo’s name, with the help of her family.

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REVIEW: Inconsistencies are a detriment to ‘Vice’

Director Adam McKay had a few comedies under his belt before hitting the award circuit in a major way with “The Big Short” in 2015. In that film, McKay took on the 2008 housing crisis and Great Recession with brilliant humor,  while still exploring the serious subject matter. McKay tries to do the same thing here with “Vice,” but the results are much more mixed.

The movie is about the rise of former Vice President Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), who served alongside former President George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) from 2001-2008. The picture explores how Cheney went from a Congressional aide, to a House member, then to having seats in the White House staff, and finally, assuming the vice presidential position. Over the course of its runtime, “Vice” shows Cheney’s relationship to his wife Lynne (Amy Adams), his daughters, and his political allies, such as Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell).

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REVIEW: Go ahead and skip a trip to ‘Marwen’

AKA “Action Figure Women of the OSS.”

“Welcome to Marwen” follows the story of Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell), a man who was brutally attacked one night while out having a drink. The attack not only resulted in physical damage, but mental wounds as well, with Hogancamp losing most of his memories.

As a way to cope with the strains of his injuries, as well as his post traumatic stress disorder, Hogancamp finds comfort in the art-form of constructing a series of miniatures and photographing them. However, with the legal matters still taking place, Hogancamp must will himself to go to court and confront his assailants. Meanwhile, he also meets a new, kind neighbor in Nicol (Leslie Mann).

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REVIEW: ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ provides a meaningful vision of a great artist

The life and times of Vincent Van Gogh are uniquely portrayed in this feature from director Julian Schnabel.

“At Eternity’s Gate” tells the story of Van Gogh (Willem Dafoe), picking up with him as a struggling artist in France and following his career when he lives in a smaller community.

Along with the work he did on the canvas, “Gate” also takes time to explore and address some of Van Gogh struggles with his mental illnesses.

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