Deep Impact (1998)

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A seven-mile-wide space rock is hurtling toward Earth, threatening to obliterate the planet. Now, it’s up to the president of the United States to save the world. He appoints a tough-as-nails veteran astronaut to lead a joint American-Russian crew into space to destroy the comet before impact. Meanwhile, an enterprising reporter uses her smarts to uncover the scoop of the century. (Letterboxd)
Unfortunately, 90s cheese ages better with action fare than with drama, or else I could’ve complimented this film on going for a more character-focused approach to its apocalyptic proceedings. As it is, it’s full of cringe-worthy relationship moments (see the weird teen marriage and estranged father-daughter who had one good day on a beach when she was 5 so I guess that’s all we need to care about them hugging on a beach as the world ends??) that threaten to ruin the epic spectacle and story.
5.5/10 (Poor)

Jack Reacher (2012)

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A homicide investigator digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who shot five random victims. (IMDb)
The cockiness of the titular character is often roll-your-eyes annoying (especially knowing this is a “Tom Cruise Production”) but it is occasionally charming in a cheesy sort of way (“Don’t need it”), and there’s a certain fun in knowing for certain your hero will get the job done–it’s just a matter of how, and to that point, the action and investigation scenes are all well done and make up a solid story with just the right amount of humour (mostly Duvall) and political intrigue added in.
7/10 (Good)

 

Widows (2018)

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Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms. (IMDb)
Great cast, cool flourishes (see the car-convo tracking shot), but never gets into a good groove (maybe for a few minutes during its heist prep montage). There’s a grief-themed character study, a women-empowerment thread, a shady politics sub-plot, and a heist movie all thrown in there-all with potential, but focusing on just two of the four would’ve made for a more impactful film. As it is, it feels disjointed (the attempt at a plot-tying twist only raises more questions) and is hard to get into.
6.5/10 (Alright)

Kicking & Screaming (2005)

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Family man Phil Weston, a lifelong victim of his father’s competitive nature, takes on the coaching duties of a kids’ soccer team, and soon finds that he’s also taking on his father’s dysfunctional way of relating… (IMDb)
A wholly uninspired underdog rag-tag kids sports story (somehow Byong Sun’s ridiculous goal still hit me in the feels though) is matched in poor quality only by the predictable yet badly executed central character development (Phil gets real crazy real fast, and repents even faster), hit-and-miss humour (more misses, obviously; the final “balls” commercial got a laugh out of me though), and Mike Ditka’s acting skills–so yeah, I guess pretty much everything else. 0-0 tie game.
4.5/10 (Bad)

Thank You for Smoking (2005)

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Satirical comedy follows the machinations of Big Tobacco’s chief spokesman, Nick Naylor, who spins on behalf of cigarettes while trying to remain a role model for his twelve-year-old son. (IMDb)
Eckhart’s Nick is a slippery spokesman for smoking that you can’t help but root for in spite of his “flexible morals”, thanks to his charismatic quick-talking. The film follows suit, presenting with wicked wit and entertaining editing (see the film pauses and brief inner narrations) its darkly humourous characters (see the outrageous Merchants of Death and Simmons’ abrasive B.R.) and fresh subject matter. Nick’s more serious father conundrum could have been taken a step further though.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

The Judge (2014)

Big-city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his father, the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his estranged family. (IMDb)
Quick-paced legal thrills here are enhanced by captivating family drama and broken up by surprisingly goofy bits of comedy. It’s a bit jarring, but ultimately feels refreshing; each mood is well-crafted and together create a uniquely holistic and relatable feel for the film. The multiple corresponding plot threads do make the story a bit unfocused, but the central father-son character(s) study is excellent, thanks to fantastic performances from Duvall and Downey. A thoroughly engaging film.
8/10 (Great)