Category: 4.5 Star Reviews

TV Review: The Mandalorian: Season 1 – Episode 1: “Chapter One” (2019)

THE MANDALORIANSEASON ONE Episode 1: “Chapter One” BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLNOVEMBER 11, 2019 “Bounty hunting is a complicated business. Don’t you agree?” — The Client (Werner Herzog) The Disney+ app here! Fans have been salivating for months over the mere idea of the Star Wars original series “The Mandalorian,” with Pedro Pascal dawning the Boba Fett-like armor. With all the anticipation leading up to the … Read More TV Review: The Mandalorian: Season 1 – Episode 1: “Chapter One” (2019)

TV Review: Sharp Objects – Episode 1: “Vanish” (2018)

SHARP OBJECTS Episode 1: “Vanish” BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJULY 18, 2018 Fully formed and tragically designed, Jean-Marc Vallée’s HBO series “Sharp Objects” kicks off with a mood as distinguishable as the green wallpaper lining Adora’s Southern mansion. Adapting the first novel from author Gillian Flynn (best known for “Gone Girl”), actress Amy Adams submerges into the leading role of Camille Preaker, a damaged reporter in … Read More TV Review: Sharp Objects – Episode 1: “Vanish” (2018)

Movie Review: Ready Player One (2018)

READY PLAYER ONE BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLAPRIL 5, 2018 “These three words were always the last thing an OASIS user saw before leaving the real world and entering the virtual one: READY PLAYER ONE” ― Ernest Cline, “Ready Player One” (novel) Taking a 385 page novel and truncating it into an enjoyable two-and-a-half hour feature is no easy feat, yet director Steven Spielberg and writers … Read More Movie Review: Ready Player One (2018)

Movie Review: Ingrid Goes West (2017)

INGRID GOES WEST BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJANUARY 14, 2018 “You are by far the coolest, the most interesting person I’ve ever met.” — Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) Our culture has changed, and many of those changes are disheartening. This past holiday season, my family and I stumbled upon an event at the Los Angeles Zoo aptly named the L.A. Zoo Lights, where the entire zoo is … Read More Movie Review: Ingrid Goes West (2017)

Movie Review: Frank (2014)

FRANK BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLDECEMBER 23, 2014 The mythos of the Midas Touch tells the story of a king granted the power of turning everything he touches into gold. That may sound like an excellent idea, but once you change a few of your friends and family members into gold, you start to realize its not such a great gift. Sometimes I wonder whether the … Read More Movie Review: Frank (2014)

Movie Review: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJANUARY 10, 2020 “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” is the perfect sequel. Not only does it introduce new and exciting characters that refresh the world in which it is set, the entire piece feels like a completely new entity, with Caesar the ape (motion-captured by Andy Serkis), some of his followers including Koba, … Read More Movie Review: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)

Quick Review: 22 Jump Street (2014)

22 JUMP STREET BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLDECEMBER 3, 2014 Remember that kid who got picked on in middle school? (I do, because I was one.) Now, remember how eventually they just owned the names that they were being called until it was no longer enjoyable for the other kids to make fun of them? Well, Christopher Miller and Phil Lord took a page out of … Read More Quick Review: 22 Jump Street (2014)

Quick Review: A Most Wanted Man (2014)

A MOST WANTED MAN BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLNOVEMBER 4, 2014 Marking the final leading role for Philip Seymour Hoffman, “A Most Wanted Man” is an espionage thriller from the same author as “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” Intricate and complex in design, Hoffman delivers a powerhouse of a performance as Günther Bachmann, adding fervor to an otherwise extremely dense subject matter. Much in the same way … Read More Quick Review: A Most Wanted Man (2014)

Movie Review: Wish I Was Here (2014)

WISH I WAS HERE BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLOCTOBER 27, 2014 After a decade since his directorial debut, Zach Braff returns with his crowd-funded darling “Wish I Was Here.” Once again starring as lead, Braff trades in his college student naivety for a more weatherworn adult role, as Aidan Bloom, husband, and father of two. Playing the out of work actor, everyone in Aiden’s life continuously … Read More Movie Review: Wish I Was Here (2014)

Movie Review: Snowpiercer (2014)

SNOWPIERCER BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLOCTOBER 20, 2014 “Passengers, eternal order flows from the sacred engine. We must occupy our preordained position. I belong to the front, you belong to the tail. Know your place! Keep your place!” — Minister Mason (Tilda Swinton) Dystopian future. Impaired class systems. Pending apocalypse. These are the themes being beaten to death in Hollywood these days. “The Hunger Games.” “Divergent.” … Read More Movie Review: Snowpiercer (2014)

Quick Review: Locke (2014)

LOCKE BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLAUGUST 11, 2014 Following in the footsteps of a film like “Buried,” which was shot entirely in one location with only one actor ever-present on-screen, “Locke” takes its single character show on the road. Starring Tom Hardy and an extensive voice cast, this simple idea sees character Ivan Locke (Hardy) taking a two-hour-long night drive from work to London all while … Read More Quick Review: Locke (2014)

Movie Review: Noah (2014)

NOAH BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJULY 28, 2014 Visually stunning and equally captivating, “Noah”, at its core, is the story we all know from the Bible. As most people would roll their eyes at a big-budgeted, Hollywood adaptation of an Old Testament saga, Darren Aronofsky takes his patented darkness and flair from his previous works like “The Fountain” and “Black Swan” and carries them into his … Read More Movie Review: Noah (2014)

Quick Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJUNE 18, 2014 One will often hear that when their favorite artists come to town, everyone wants them to play the hits. Director Wes Anderson is content with playing the hits, delivering yet another truly unique comedy in “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. Like in the world of art and painting, one can tell a Wes Anderson from the … Read More Quick Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Movie Review: Grand Piano (2014)

GRAND PIANO BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLMAY 17, 2014 Elijah Wood is not a piano-playing prodigy. But from the looks of director Eugenio Mira’s new feature film “Grand Piano”, he looks exactly like he has been playing piano his entire life. The premise of “Phone Booth,” which saw Colin Farrell stuck in a phone booth taking orders from a sniper that we never see, but whose … Read More Movie Review: Grand Piano (2014)

Movie Review: Oculus (2014)

OCULUS BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLAPRIL 18, 2014 Turning an inanimate object into the main antagonist of a story is a huge accomplishment, especially when it comes to horror. Setting the right tone and building enough tension to get the audience invested in your otherwise outrageous ideas is pivotal in bringing that world to life. In “Oculus,” the inanimate villain is an ancient mirror that plagues … Read More Movie Review: Oculus (2014)

Movie Review: Lone Survivor (2013)

LONE SURVIVOR BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLAPRIL 5, 2014 Not since “Saving Private Ryan” has war felt so real. Through the help of the real-life accounts from Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell and his memoirs recounting the horrific days where he and his four-man SEAL team were engaged by a Taliban group while on a surveillance mission, the story of “Lone Survivor” breathes authenticity, creating an emotional … Read More Movie Review: Lone Survivor (2013)

Movie Review: The Book Thief (2013)

THE BOOK THIEF BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLMARCH 15, 2014 Having never read the book and having only experienced the trailer, I was fully under the impression that “The Book Thief” was more of a children’s film than that of one for adults, to which I was wholly wrong. With distinct themes of death and war, the film takes an interesting look at devotion and deep-rooted … Read More Movie Review: The Book Thief (2013)

Quick Review: The Hunt (2013)

THE HUNT BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLFEBRUARY 15, 2014 Evoking one of the most emotionally conflicted responses I have ever had during a film, Thomas Vinterberg’s latest foreign-language film, “The Hunt” will have you yelling at the screen in no time. Some films benefit from keeping its secrets until the very end, playing close to the chest, and shocking audiences with reveals. “The Hunt” is an … Read More Quick Review: The Hunt (2013)

Movie Review: Forrest Gump (1994)

FORREST GUMP BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJANUARY 29, 2014 Chances are most people recognize the phrases “run, Forrest, run” or “life is like a box of chocolates” even if the film that they come from is a mystery to them. Having been seven-years-old when “Forrest Gump” came out, it was not a film I was familiar with until much later in life. But these phrases were … Read More Movie Review: Forrest Gump (1994)

Quick Review: August: Osage County (2013)

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJANUARY 14, 2014 Not surprisingly adapted from a stage play by Tracy Letts, who also pens the screenplay, “August: Osage County” is a character piece if ever there was one. Set in the Oklahoma home of Violet Weston for most of the run-time, the characters are simply allowed to blossom and mold in front of our eyes. Pulling apart … Read More Quick Review: August: Osage County (2013)

Quick Review: The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013)

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJANUARY 3, 2014 “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty” is a balance of memorable moments and sincere performances from most of the main cast, especially Ben Stiller and Sean Penn. Stepping into the director’s shoes, Stiller takes on double duty and does not disappoint, playing title character Walter Mitty, an easygoing daydreamer living a reserved lifestyle. … Read More Quick Review: The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013)

Quick Review: The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJANUARY 3, 2014 Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of his best performances of his career in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf Of Wall Street”, a brutally honest look at the life of real-life New York stockbroker, Jordan Belfort, who scammed rich people out of their money to live his lavish, no holds barred lifestyle. Almost pornographic, the film brings … Read More Quick Review: The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

Quick Review: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

NATIONAL LAMPOON’SCHRISTMAS VACATION BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLDECEMBER 26, 2013 Still hilarious to this day, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” never gets old. Thanks to impeccable comedic delivery by funnyman Chevy Chase, the imagery of the Griswold family Christmas sets the stage for millions across the country to enjoy their families and sit down by their Christmas trees for the holiday season, watching one man’s strife to … Read More Quick Review: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Quick Review: Home Alone (1990)

HOME ALONE BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLDECEMBER 26, 2013 One cannot deny the classic status of “Home Alone” as one of the most-watched Christmas movies of all-time. Written by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus, the story of a boy accidentally left at home by his family headed on vacation left to defend his house against pending thieves is now recognizable to anyone with a … Read More Quick Review: Home Alone (1990)

Quick Review: American Hustle (2013)

AMERICAN HUSTLE BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLDECEMBER 26, 2013 A collection of David O. Russell’s top players, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Amy Adams collaborate in one of the best ensemble cast films of the year, “American Hustle”. Taking a spin on the ‘70s FBI operation known as ABSCAM (Abdul Scam) in which an apprehended con artist was used to set up members of … Read More Quick Review: American Hustle (2013)

Quick Review: The Reader (2008)

THE READER BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLDECEMBER 23, 2013 Nothing short of brilliant, Stephen Daldry’s “The Reader” is a twisting turning drama with stunning performances and constant surprises, delving into an interesting structure in which to tell a story. Ralph Fiennes plays brooding lead man Michael Berg, whose thoughtful performance bookends the film, as the rest of the story is told through flashbacks of his life, … Read More Quick Review: The Reader (2008)

Quick Review: Crazy Heart (2009)

CRAZY HEART BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLNOVEMBER 30, 2013 “Crazy Heart” is a one of a kind drama, presenting Jeff Bridges in his best role to date as fading country star Bad Blake. Blake is an alcoholic who has been married four times and is on the road again at the 57-years-old. Once a huge star in the country scene, he’s now playing tiny bars and … Read More Quick Review: Crazy Heart (2009)

Quick Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLNOVEMBER 30, 2013 Visually enthralling, grandiosely captivating, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” proves that fans are safe with Peter Jackson at the helm of the Middle-earth. Martin Freeman is by far the most enjoyable portion of the film, with the look and charisma to deftly carry this latest Tolkien franchise, as lead Bilbo Baggins, while returning faces … Read More Quick Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Quick Review: Prince Avalanche (2013)

PRINCE AVALANCHE BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLNOVEMBER 24, 2013 David Gordon Green’s return to form, “Prince Avalanche” sees Paul Rudd and Emilie Hirsch give some of the most dramatic and spot-on performances of their careers, as two men in the backwoods painting yellow dividing lines on an all but abandoned road. With Green’s patented mix of comedy and drama, to which they become the same, his … Read More Quick Review: Prince Avalanche (2013)

Quick Review: Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLNOVEMBER 17, 2013 “Dallas Buyers Club” is a transformation for all those involved. The only film of director Jean-Marc Vallée that I’ve seen is “The Young Victoria,” which garnered minimal Oscar attention a few years ago, and to which I enjoyed, but his latest endeavor is so much deeper and rich and a passion for this story breathes from … Read More Quick Review: Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Quick Review: Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013)

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLNOVEMBER 3, 2013 Brimming with raw emotion, the winner of this year’s Palme D’Or, “Blue Is The Warmest Color”, takes the viewer inside a living, breathing relationship between young Adele (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and an older, artistic spirit, Emma (Léa Seydoux). With strong tones in discovering one’s sexuality and the great human connection, this is a sexual coming … Read More Quick Review: Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013)

Movie Review: Captain Phillips (2013)

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLOCTOBER 20, 2013 It’s easy to take for granted great filmmaking. Dulled down by a constant barrage of films every week, audiences expect to be entertained and stimulated as much as possible. The fact of the matter is, however, if you were to give one hundred different directors the same film to produce, you’d come up with one hundred different … Read More Movie Review: Captain Phillips (2013)

Movie Review: Prisoners (2013)

PRISONERS BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLSEPTEMBER 22, 2013 What can only be described as an epic, slow-burn thriller, “Prisoners,” is a direct descendant of the dark worlds shaped by director David Fincher? With drained color and constant dreariness in every scene, the tone of the film is off the charts. The drizzling rain and stormy days may seem somewhat heavy-handed, but these choices suck you into … Read More Movie Review: Prisoners (2013)

Quick Review: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013)

AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLAUGUST 27, 2013 Highlighted with three stellar performances, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” takes a minimal storyline and creates an authentic and emotion-filled canvas for these young and bright actors to paint this heart-wrenching drama with their God-given talents. Casey Affleck has proved time and time again that he is an actor to be watched, delivering award-worthy performances around … Read More Quick Review: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013)

Quick Review: Chinatown (1974)

CHINATOWN BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLAUGUST 8, 2013 A true neo-noir, “Chinatown” not only signifies an iconic role for Jack Nicholson, but ranks as one of the best Roman Polanski films ever. Also starring Faye Dunaway, who is constantly stealing the spotlight, pairing her with Nicholson becomes an instant classic on-screen chemistry. With a suspenseful mystery unfolding and tons of shifty character, the story of “Chinatown” … Read More Quick Review: Chinatown (1974)

Movie Review: Blackfish (2013)

BLACKFISH BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLAUGUST 3, 2013 Not since “The Cove” have I felt this strongly about a particular subject. It just so happens they are very similar, with “The Cove” delving into the capture and killing of dolphins in Japan. At the same time, “Blackfish” dives into the world of capturing orcas and training them to work at SeaWorld despite their eventual aggression. Gabriela … Read More Movie Review: Blackfish (2013)

Quick Review: Fruitvale Station (2013)

FRUITVALE STATION BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLAUGUST 3, 2013 Bringing me to tears by the end, “Fruitvale Station” achieves precisely what director Ryan Coogler sets out to do: getting this high profile incident to the public in an entertaining and cinematic fashion. Delivering a strong performance is Michael B. Jordan, who causes some ripples in the Oscar pool. The film opens on the actual footage captured … Read More Quick Review: Fruitvale Station (2013)

Movie Review: The Wolverine (2013)

THE WOLVERINE BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJULY 28, 2013 Expertly displayed as almost a stand-alone Wolverine film, I compare “The Wolverine” to a franchise film like “Skyfall” that gives us a more in-depth, emotional perspective on a character that we think we know inside and out. Bringing Logan (Hugh Jackman) to the Yakuza and ninjas world in Japan, not only does the story feel different from … Read More Movie Review: The Wolverine (2013)

Movie Review: Pacific Rim (2013)

PACIFIC RIM BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJULY 13, 2013 Guillermo del Toro triumphantly steps back into the director’s chair with his version of an epic hero versus monster movie, “Pacific Rim.” What sets “Rim” apart from the onslaught of science fiction action films like the comparable “Transformers” is that del Toro takes a cast of lower-level familiar faces like Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, and Charlie Day, … Read More Movie Review: Pacific Rim (2013)

Movie Review: The Way Way Back (2013)

THE WAY WAY BACK BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJULY 13, 2013 If there’s one thing we’ve learned from both “The Descendants” and now “The Way Way Back,” it’s that Nat Faxon and Jim Rash know their shit. This time writing, directing, and acting, both Nat and Jim are already at the top of their game, and we’re only on film number two. Diving into the world … Read More Movie Review: The Way Way Back (2013)

Quick Review: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

STAR WARS: EPISODE V — THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJULY 13, 2013 “The Empire Strike Backs” one of the best “middle” films in a trilogy to date. The second film in a trilogy is often a throwaway, carrying on what the first film started but ultimately only leading into the third and final film. “The Empire Strikes Back” builds off of the … Read More Quick Review: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Quick Review: Independence Day (1996)

INDEPENDENCE DAY BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJULY 6, 2013 Still visually impressive, even by today’s standards, “Independence Day” is and always has been one of my all-time favorite science fiction films. At the height of the earth ending trend in film making, Roland Emmerich led the charge. He never stopped, with the forethought to use practical effects with events like blowing up the White House that … Read More Quick Review: Independence Day (1996)

Quick Review: End Of Watch (2012)

END OF WATCH BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJULY 5, 2013 Relying slightly too heavily on the “found footage” concept of the film, “End Of Watch” overcomes this major downfall by remaining relevant and sincere throughout the film. Director David Ayer relies heavily on the natural chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña as they play partners in the LAPD, specializing in the gangland that is South … Read More Quick Review: End Of Watch (2012)

Movie Review: Byzantium (2013)

BYZANTIUM BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJUNE 29, 2013 “Byzantium” is a gorgeous vampire film in recent memory, starring a small niche of talented actors and actresses with bright and successful futures ahead of them. By far, Saoirse Ronan is the most skilled actress of her generation, with each performance, delivered bringing her closer and closer to that showstopping performance of her career. As a young vampire, … Read More Movie Review: Byzantium (2013)

Quick Review: Gladiator (2000)

GLADIATOR BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJUNE 23, 2013 Ridley Scott directs this Academy Award-winning period piece starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix that comes straight out of a Shakespearean story, with passion and betrayal, fathers and sons fighting, and political agendas and uprisings. As Maximus, Crowe is the star of the show and brings action and stylized, historical drama in full force in every scene that … Read More Quick Review: Gladiator (2000)

Quick Review: This Is The End (2013)

THIS IS THE END BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJUNE 15, 2013 By far one of the purest forms of comedy in recent memory, “This Is The End” takes a large concept like the Apocalypse and delves into the hilarious relationship between celebrity friends who are just trying to survive under one roof during the end times. Having all the actors play themselves is genius, creating a … Read More Quick Review: This Is The End (2013)

Movie Review: The Book Of Eli (2010)

THE BOOK OF ELI BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJUNE 22, 2010 Where do I begin? Being a video game aficionado, “The Book Of Eli” creates a world that every gamer would love to explore. Guns, knives, bows and arrows. The great workings of an action adventure game, along the lines of the “Borderlands” and “Fallout 3” franchises. I wanted to wander in Eli’s shoes; wanted to … Read More Movie Review: The Book Of Eli (2010)

Movie Review: (500) Days Of Summer (2009)

(500) DAYS OF SUMMER BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELLJUNE 21, 2010 “Just because she likes the same bizzaro crap you do doesn’t mean she’s your soul mate.” — Rachel Hansen (Chloë Grace Moretz) A gripping relationship drama that tugs at your insides better than any before its time. Hands down, this film is art. You can both literally and figuratively see the brush strokes in this … Read More Movie Review: (500) Days Of Summer (2009)