Game Night (2018)

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A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves entangled in a real-life mystery. (IMDb)
Keeps things fresh, to its credit–the plot and humour don’t rely solely on the initial premise of dramatic irony, the characters are funny but develop depth too (see dumb, cocky Ryan’s vulnerability in the van; big shot Brooks’ pavement penitence), and the cinematography takes creative turns (see the game-board zoom-ins, one-take egg exchange)–even if the choices don’t always work (the third act has one or two too many twists; the dark comedy isn’t always funny–see Annie’s “Oh no, he died!”).
7/10 (Good)

 

Mean Girls (2004)

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Cady Heron is a hit with The Plastics, the A-list girl clique at her new school, until she makes the mistake of falling for Aaron Samuels, the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic Regina George. (IMDb)
The plot is conventional and a little unsatisfying and unrealistic near the end (see Cady taking all the blame, then making everything okay with one speech) but a lively script populated by plenty of memorable one-liners (“Is butter a carb?”), quirky side characters (see weary Mr. Duvall, gangsta math geek Kevin), and funny unconventional asides (see the teens like animals bits) entertains, and the epilogue is touching (“All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you”).
7/10 (Good)

 

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

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Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty. (IMDb)
It’s a little hard to keep up with Holmes’ fast-track mind that takes us through the mystery, but the journey is nothing short of breathtaking–thrilling action sequences (see the wild train ride) matched only by RDJ and Law’s brilliant banter are bolstered by a wonderful score (see the fiddle-backed bar fight) and slick cinematography (see the stop-go slow-motion in the forest run)–and a well-crafted climax (Harris is a solid adversary) capably fills us in while still amping up the tension.
9/10 (Amazing)

Doctor Strange (2016)

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A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts. (IMDb)
Falls prey to a few tiresome cliches (an unremarkable villain played by Mads Mikkelsen; our hero finishing training just in time for a world catastrophe) but subverts others (see the brains over brawn climax). Thoughtful discourse on violence and “the greater good”, loads of ambitious and interesting visuals, a unique blend of ancient-exotic and modern America settings with the dashes of lightheartedness and unique situations that result (see The Ancient One in the hospital) are more pros.
7/10 (Good)

Red Eye (2005)

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A woman is kidnapped by a stranger on a routine flight. Threatened by the potential murder of her father, she is pulled into a plot to assist her captor in offing a politician. (IMDb)
An engaging thriller that doesn’t do much to substantiate its plot, but it’s really about the great interplay between Murphy and McAdams anyways. The former shines first as the creepy killer both disturbingly forceful and frighteningly charming, while the latter, with a stab of a pen to the throat, goes full-on badass as the plane touches down, stealing a car, running over a bad guy, and duking it out one-on-one with another, all before telling her jerk hotel customers to shove it up their ass.
7/10 (Good)

Spotlight (2015)

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The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core. (IMDb)
The dense dialogue doesn’t dumb anything down, to the film’s initial detriment (it’s tough to latch on), but ultimately giving it a welcome mature feel as the Spotlight team continues to determinedly dig their way to the disturbing truth. A no-frills story, solidly acted (Ruffalo’s passionate Mike and Schreiber’s calm and calculated Marty are two standouts) maintains this tone, dispensing with unnecessary character explorations and pushy pathos on the way to its subtly sentimental final scene.
8/10 (Great)

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Detective Sherlock Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England. (IMDb)
Striking cinematography immerses you in the gritty browns and greys of late 19th century London: It’s the perfect setting for what is an exciting, rough-and-tumble tale with as much fisticuffs as displays of Holmes’ skillful deduction, as Downey adds a cool swagger to his quirky Holmes, and Law’s reasonable Watson matches him punch for punch. With its busy and brisk script some deeper character development and tantalizing back stories are neglected, but perhaps that’s what sequels are for.
8/10 (Great)