Say ‘I Don’t’ to ‘Shotgun Wedding’

It’s hard to believe that rom-com royalty — Jennifer Lopez (The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan) and Josh Duhamel (Life As We Know It, When in Rome) — have never made a movie together until Amazon Studio’s Shotgun Wedding. It makes sense to put these two together in a romantic movie as both are beautiful people with experience in the genre. But unlike their sappy romantic films that follow the same formula, Shotgun Wedding gets mixed in with some action and adventure with pirates, money laundering, and lots of explosions. 

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‘Plane’ Stars Daniella Pineda and Remi Adeleke Discuss the Film’s Depiction of Filipinos

Plane hit theaters this past weekend. And if you’re interested to see what we thought of the film, feel free to check out our review here. While it’s no surprise that I’m personally not the movie’s biggest supporter, I do still admire the talent and work of its stars, and was given the opportunity to speak with Daniella Pineda and Remi Adeleke about the movie.

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Deconstructing ‘M3GAN’ with Screenwriter Akela Cooper

She Tiktok danced her way into our hearts, before brutally cutting down people with the blade of a paper cutter guillotine. Yes, I’m talking about M3GAN, the homicidal A.I. doll/singer/dancer that has taken the country by storm, grossing $30M domestic on a $12M budget this past weekend, and a 95% Rotten Tomatoes score. But where did the insanely loyal robot get her start? Only screenwriter Akela Cooper knows!

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‘House Party’ 2023 Struggles to Keep the Party Going

Written by Jamal Olori & Stephen Glover and directed by Calmatic, House Party tells the story of two freshly fired house cleaners — club promoting best friends, Damon and Kevin — as they decide to host the most exclusive party in California at LeBron James’ exclusive mansion, the site of their last cleaning job. While the film does deliver on its premise it isn’t until the later half that it comes into its own.

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NOC Review: ‘Plane’ is Just Plain Offensive

January is often said to be a dumping ground for studios to release their pretty terrible films. And in some cases you’ll see a movie like M3GAN and be pleasantly surprised when it’s actually quite good. But then a movie like Plane comes along that’s just so horribly offensive and, simply put, bad, that it reinforces the stereotype of this being the month for garbage movies.

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NOC Review: ‘M3GAN’ is a Hilarious Horror Hoot

Oh man. I haven’t laughed this hard in a theater in a long time! I once said in my review for James Wan’s Malignant, that sometimes you don’t know which “Wan” you’re going to get: “serious Conjuring Wan” or “silly Dead Silence Wan.”

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NOC Review: ‘The Fabelmans’ is Fine

It’s award season, which means every studio is going to tout their maudlin batch of contenders that qualify as “cinema” all over town. Trying to get voters to desperately nominate them for every award, while name-dropping the who’s-who of bait-worthy talent — all while every self-important and self-proclaimed “cinephile” pretends to preach about the difference between true “art” and “garbage” as if they invented the concept of “film” and are the authorities between what “real filmmaking” is and isn’t.

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‘The Hater’ Has an Earnest Heart

The election of Donald Trump in 2016 showed that real life had become more like a season of television than ever before. Two years into Joe Biden’s presidency — and in the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection — our identity as citizens in this country has become increasingly fragmented from each other. What is best for our communities has fallen to the wayside as it has become harder to find common ground. So when The Hater — written, directed and acted by the multi-talented Joey Ally — finally ended and credits began to roll, I finally realized what had been missing in so many other pieces of media about politics in the world of Fake News and political team sports. 

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Thoughts and Reactions to Watching ‘John Wick’ For the First Time

In 2019, in the midst of the Keanussance, I watched and documented my thoughts and reactions to watching The Matrix for the first time. Over two years later, in the lead-up to the release of The Matrix Resurrections, I watched and reacted to its sequels and anime anthology film as well. Now I am doing so once again, but this time for a different franchise.

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‘Hot Blooded: Once upon a Time’ is Intriguing But Disjointed

How much are you willing to pay to become king? Is the price of having wealth, power, or respect worth the pain or death it brings? Hot Blooded: Once Upon A TIme In Korea succeeds in tackling these themes, as well as the perpetual cycle of violence, with a poetic focus that left me intrigued with what it was trying to say, even though I’m not sure if it was clear enough.

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‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Sinks More than It Floats

When James Cameron’s Avatar premiered in 2009, it represented a landmark moment in visual effects for film. Cameron made some of the most effective use of CGI and motion-capture performances since Andy Serkis’ brilliant portrayal of Gollum in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Na’vi, as alien and as CGI as they were, felt real to audiences as their animation took realistic form, as did the stunningly beautiful planet of Pandora. But while these visual effects were a spectacle, the story itself, while moving at times, was simplistic and derivative of other films in the realm of colonists and Indigenous peoples.

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NOC Review: ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ is the Best ‘Shrek’ Movie in Years

Yes, it’s true that Dreamworks Animation has had to live in the shadow of Pixar Animation studios for some time. But I truly think audiences tend to underestimate them. The first two Shrek movies are terrific. The entire How to Train Your Dragon trilogy is a masterpiece (one of the few film trilogies ever where all entries are fantastic). And even the Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar franchises are well done. It seems the impact great filmmakers like Guillermo Del Toro and Chris Sanders & Dean DeBlois has indeed (much like the fearless feline protagonist of the film this review is for) left an indelible mark. Because case in point, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is surprisingly quite good.

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Peeling Back the Layers of ‘Glass Onion’ with Jessica Henwick and Madelyn Cline

Benoit Blanc is back! And once more, he’s investigating another shocking mystery with a group of unsavory suspects aboard an eccentric billionaire’s glass onion in Greece; words that would only make sense in a Rian Johnson whodunnit. Among this cadre of characters is Peg (Jessica Henwick), the long suffering assistant of fashion icon Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), and Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), the girlfriend of gun-enthusiast and alt-right male-rights activist, Duke (Dave Bautista).

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‘Strange World’ Has Tons of Heart Despite its Few Shortcomings

Many of today’s comics were inspired by the page-turning action-adventure pulp comics of the past. The characters leaped off the page as they ventured into uncharted territory, where all sorts of dangerous creatures awaited them. Some fearlessly took the lead, while others provided a supportive role. And while most were one-dimensional and stereotypical, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Strange World subverts what we know about the genre with its relatable characters, modern themes, and a wholly engaging story about the legacy. 

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NOC Review: ‘The Menu’ is a Delightfully Devilish Delicacy

Elitism is a disease for which there is no cure. Despite the need for people to work towards the collective good of supporting one another, society has a tendency to try and hold rankings and create conflict out of those rankings based on wealth, power, and opportunity, resulting in humanity immersing itself into the throes of these ridiculous constructs of social hierarchy that elevate one individual over another. It’s a disease that also impacts how we view art, lifestyle, business, and politics, contributing to increased levels of human arrogance and self-satisfying entitlement. Which is why I’m grateful for a movie like The Menu that attacks this problem head on.

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NOC Review: The Knives are Out and Sharper Than Ever in ‘Glass Onion’

How great is it that we have a Benoit Blanc cinematic universe? Given the major critical and commercial hit that Knives Out was, it was easy to see why the demand for more adventures with Daniel Craig’s super sleuth was inevitable.

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NOC Review: The ‘Black Panther’ Lives On in ‘Wakanda Forever’

How do a filmmaker and his crew pick up the pieces of a story shattered by the heartbreaking loss of a fallen family member, who was both a protagonist and king? That was certainly the question left several days after the death of the incredible Chadwick Boseman, who passed away from colon cancer in August 2020, shortly after writer/director Ryan Coogler had just finished the first draft of his script for the sequel to 2018’s Black Panther.

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‘Black Adam’ is Less Than the Sum of its Parts but Still a Fun Time

“The hierarchy of power in the DC Universe is about to change,” we’ve heard for weeks on end from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Did it really change that much with the release of Black Adam? Honestly? Yeah, kind of!

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‘Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons’ is a Nostalgic Tribute

Richard Donner’s Superman is perhaps the most admired and cherished live-action version of the character. Donner established his spot in the “Man of Steel” hall of fame by building upon the hero’s most famous attributes. His bulletproof skin and wondrous flight were there, along with his diehard sense of truth, justice, and the American way.

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One Way or Another ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Will Get Ya

Hocus Pocus kids of the ’90s have waited a long time for a sequel to happen. Its poor critical and commercial reception wouldn’t have justified a sequel. And yet, since its release, it has gathered a rather powerful coven, one that demanded a sequel be made. So, after nearly three decades of waiting, Disney has delivered Hocus Pocus 2, which brings the Sanderson sisters back for some wicked good fun while also building upon the mythology with a modern and emotionally nuanced story. 

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Matthew Libatique on Capturing the Nightmare of ‘Don’t Worry Darling’

Today, after many weeks of drama, Don’t Worry Darling, the anticipated sophomore film for director Olivia Wilde is finally hitting theaters. And while the film itself is getting something of a mixed reaction, the one thing many can agree on is that the visuals are terrific. And part of that is the vision of Oscar-nominated, Filipino American cinematographer Matthew Libatique.

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NOC Review: ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ is Not That Bad

I need to get something off my chest. We’ve gotten to a point where behind the scenes drama that has absolutely nothing to do with narrative, character, acting, etc. is affecting audience perceptions of movies, without audiences actually bothering to see a movie.

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NOC Review: The Truth is Disney’s Live-Action ‘Pinocchio’ is a Weird Movie

Disney remaking its classics has been a completely mixed bag thus far. Sure they make billions. But they’re incredibly hit and miss. And it’s so appropriate that I’m kicking off the review for the latest Disney remake, Pinocchio (2022), with such a statement, because it is a completely mixed bag. And a weird one at that.

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