REVIEW: While flawed, ‘BlacKkKlansman’ is an engaging take on a wild true story

Legendary filmmaker Spike Lee has returned to the directors chair, this time to helm a crime/cop drama that’s actually based on a true story.

Taking place in the 1970s, “BlacKkKlansman” follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), a recent addition to a police department in Colorado. As a rookie in the department, Ron initially works in the records division. However, he eventually convinces the chief to get a chance in undercover detective work.

After a short time in the new division, Ron ends up taking a chance by phone to call a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. In doing so, Ron is able to keep track of the local Klan’s strategies and if they’re seeking to do anything violent. To make the investigation even more effective, Ron works with Flip (Adam Driver), a fellow detective who takes Ron’s place during in-person meetings with the Klan.

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REVIEW: ‘Happytime Murders’ is a contender for worst of 2018

The concept of “The Happy Time Murders” was introduced around 2008 and over the next decade, the movie idea wandered in development hell. With its release this weekend, maybe it should’ve stayed there.

“The Happytime Murders” takes place in a world where puppets exist and live among humans. The film focuses on Phil, a puppet who after leaving the Los Angeles Police Department, became a private detective. In his latest investigation, he comes across a larger case than he expected.

Phil (Bill Barretta) soon learns that there are murders taking place, with the victims being cast members of a popular TV show. Even more significant is that Phil was very close with some of the cast. As he starts investigating, he’s forced to work with his former police partner, Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy).

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REVIEW: ‘Downsizing’ Misfires Because Of Bland Character, Weak Satire

When some men get to the point of a midlife crisis, they may go out and purchase a nice sports car. Matt Damon’s character in “Downsizing,” meanwhile, gets a procedure to become four inches tall.

The title more or less gives a clue as to what the film is about. The picture opens with a new procedure being developed called downsizing which shrinks bodies to roughly four or five inches tall. As a result of the size reduction, the environmental footprint of humanity can be lessened and because of resources becoming more abundant, people can live in luxury.

Paul Safranek (Matt Damon), an occupational therapist who seems bored with life, figures it’s a good thing to try. As a result, he and his wife make a plan to go through with downsizing. However, as the movie unravels, it shows that this wasn’t the fix-all solution that Paul expected.

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REVIEW: Main Concept Of ‘The House’ Not Fit For A Feature Film

“The House,” unfortunately, is another example of a film having comedic talent, but not the material to back it up.

The film revolves around the lives of two middle class, small town parents, Scott (Will Ferrell) and Kate (Amy Poehler). The movie picks up in the summer just after their daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins) graduates from high school and prepares to go to a seemingly large, expensive college.

At first, this seems to be fine as Alex has been selected for a major scholarship. However, this is soon flipped as the city revokes the scholarship for a different use. As a result, the two parents become desperate to find another way to pay for tuition. At that moment, their friend Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) comes up with an idea for an ‘at home’ casino where they can make money and give the small town some thrills.

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REVIEW: Good Cast Doesn’t Save Clichéd Comedy ‘Rough Night’

It’s always surprising when a movie comes along boasting plenty of talent that ultimately disappoints. “Rough Night” is a picture that falls into that category.

The film revolves around the character Jess (Scarlett Johansson) and her group of friends who are reuniting after quite some time. Friends since their days in college, the group decides to go to Miami for a bachelorette party for Jess, whose wedding day is close by.

While their party does get somewhat crazy, all seems to be going relatively well. That is until a male stripper whom they’ve hired ends up getting killed by way of an accident. As a result, the friends begin panicking and start trying to figure out how they can get out of the situation.

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REVIEW: ‘Snatched’ Earns Some Laughs, But Not Every Attempt At Comedy Works

Comedic actresses Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn partner up in this flick and on occasion they’re able to deliver some solid humor. However, both have been in better projects in the past.

In “Snatched,” Schumer plays a young woman who’s more or less hit rock bottom. She’s been just dumped by her boyfriend and fired from a rather dead-end job. Making matters worse, her breakup came just as her and her boyfriend were about to go on an exotic vacation to South America.

Because she still wants to go on the trip, though, she invites her mother Linda (Goldie Hawn) to go along. The two eventually make their way to the resort to begin their vacation, yet the two are somewhat at odds in how to spend their time. The two have to reconnect and repair their somewhat strained relationship in quick fashion, though, when they are abducted by a criminal enterprise.

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REVIEW: ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ Is A Hilarious Take On The Dark Knight’s Recent Edgy Trend

He has the suit, the gadgets and the raspy voice. By all means, this is a “Batman” movie, but it’s certainly a lot more comical than its counterparts.

“The LEGO Batman Movie” starts off showing another average night in Gotham City, with a whole group of famous and not so famous villains launching an assault. Per usual, Batman (Will Arnett) comes in to put a stop to them, but in the process of doing so, things start to change. More specifically, hints of Batman’s lonely life begin to come in to play.

As the movie goes on, the film (in humorous ways) explores Batman’s tendencies to do things on his own rather than accept help from anyone else. This becomes more complicated, though, with the arrival of new Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) and Dick Grayson/Robin (Michael Cera).

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Krampus review

Director:
Michael Dougherty
Cast:
Adam Scott
Toni Collette
David Koechner
Emjay Anthony
Conchata Ferrell
Rated: PG-13

“Krampus” is a horror and dark comedy that centers around a dysfunctional family who have gathered just a few days before Christmas. The youngest in the family, Max (Anthony), is having a tough time with the whole situation, though, because the holiday just doesn’t feel as enjoyable anymore.

In a fit of anger he tears up his letter to Santa and tosses it out the window. It turns out to be a bad decision, though, because it summons the evil spirit Krampus who punishes those who don’t honor Christmas.

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The Night Before review

Director:
Jonathan Levine
Cast:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Seth Rogen
Anthony Mackie
Jillian Bell
Michael Shannon
Rated: R

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a man named Ethan in “The Night Before,” an average guy who has a tradition of going out the night before Christmas with his two friends Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Mackie). The tradition was started just after Ethan’s parents died in 2001 and has carried on throughout the years.

The film picks up with the three friends deciding that the current Christmas Eve would be their last night out, though, as life is pulling them in different directions. Because of this, they decide to make it the best night possible by making it to a legendary party.

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REVIEW: ‘Vacation’

Directors:
John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
Cast:
Ed Helms
Christina Applegate
Skyler Gisondo
Steele Stebbins
Chris Hemsworth
Leslie Mann
Rated: R

“Vacation” is the sequel to the 1983 film of the same name which follows the character Rusty Griswold. Rusty is the son of Clark Griswold and was part of the many family adventures of the original “Vacation” series and wants to recapture some of that magic with his own family.

To do so, Rusty (Helms) decides to take his family on a road trip to the giant theme park Wally World, with multiple stops at landmarks along the way.

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