Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
This nonlinear comic book adaptation recounts the life and times of one Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a blabber-mouthed ex-Special Forces operative turned sociopathic mercenary who finds his world forever changed when he learns he has late-stage cancer. However, after he joins a program that replaces his sickness with superhuman abilities, more goes awry, and presto — it’s time for his bloodthirsty revenge!
As proven with films such as IRON MAN and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, humor goes a very long way in the modern superhero movie, and Deadpool keeps its humor at the maximum level. The way Reynolds’ titular character prattles on and breaks the fourth wall, you’d think some jokes would fail to land, but the hit-to-miss ratio is impressive.
DEADPOOL is a big bowl of awesome. It doesn’t just dazzle, it tractor-beams you into its outrageous wave of horseplay, proving that with the properly spun formula and apt talent, blockbusters can still be done right.
– Preston Barta
Extras: DEADPOOL might have the best bonus features of any movie in a while. It’s clear they had a lot of fun making this film and the gag reel, audio commentary with Reynolds and deleted scenes all show this.
One of the most difficult genres to reach both financial and critical success is horror. There needs to be a sensible balance between reality and gags. Too much reality leads to a boring movie, leaving the audience unsatisfied in what they came to see; too many scares without a sense of realism leads to something hollow. This leads us to THE BOY, a horror movie that lacks either horror or the semblance of an original movie.
Greta (Lauren Cohan) is running from her life in the U.S. She somehow becomes the new nanny for the Heelshires, which is only explained by the fact that Greta feels like she is supposed to be there; fate has brought her to this pseudo-Gothic mansion in the middle of nowhere. As she arrives and meets her employers, there is something a little off. This something is the fact that the child she is to look after is a porcelain replica of their now-deceased son, Brahms.
The Heelshires treat Brahms as their real son, complete with a daily routine that Greta must abide by in her tenure. Greta laughs at first but soon realizes that this is serious to them. After explaining the rules on how to handle their son, they leave Brahms in her keep as they depart for “vacation”. Soon enough, things go bump in the night complete with the creepy kid voice and the doll’s blank stare. Is the spirit of Brahms alive in the doll, or is Greta going crazy?
THE BOY is clearly the latest of January throwaway releases. Cohan and Evans are solid actors, but everything is just so thin and played out that it’s hard to be invested, even when the twist happens in the third act.
– Jared McMillan
Extras: No special features listed in the press release.
Provocateur. Pot-stirrer. Loudmouth. Liberal. Sensationalist. Unreasonable blowhard. Rabble rouser. Agitator. Social justice warrior. These are the names often associated with documentary filmmaker Michael Moore. Compassionate sense-maker. Rationalist. Equalitarian. Pacifist. These are the names not often associated with him. Yet, in the case of his latest documentary, WHERE TO INVADE NEXT, he eschews his traditionally aggressive shtick in favor of a much kinder, reasonable approach to getting his salient points across. And guess what? It works – brilliantly. It’s an empathetic plea to the American public to get their government to change their old-fashioned ways, and makes its case in an intelligent, deeply engrossing, highly entertaining and brilliantly scathing way.
For this doco, Moore sets out to uncover the reasons why America has fallen behind other countries in so many ways. We’re living in a terrible time marked by voter suppression, police brutality, the housing crisis fallout and a lack of support for returning troops. Abortion clinics are under attack. Our prison population is exploding. And this is all in the opening credits! He’s fed up and takes his act on the road, “invading” other countries, using American brute force to steal their realistic ideals and lifestyles. He uses the aggressive term “invade,” but really he just wants to adopt other cultures’ sensible ideas.
WHERE TO INVADE NEXT is Moore’s noble attempt to knock down the walls that are clearly dividing our country. As Moore’s pal Ron said of the Berlin wall, “take a hammer, knock it down.” This documentary is Moore’s chisel. People, you help bring it down!
– Courtney Howard
Extras: No special features listed in the press release.
Also available on DVD and streaming: THE BOURNE TRILOGY (2002-2007), CREATIVE CONTROL, FAST & FURIOUS COLLECTION (1-7), IN A LONELY PLACE (1950): Criterion Collection, KILLJOYS: SEASON 1, Lego SCOOBY-DOO — HAUNTED HOLLYWOOD, SYNCHRONICITY, WAR & PEACE, AND WWE: WRESTLEMANIA XXXII.