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The painful celeb deaths of 2016 and why we should move on quickly…

The painful celeb deaths of 2016 and why we should move on quickly…

Posted on December 30th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

Every year during the Oscars telecast, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honors the important actors and filmmakers who have passed on in the previous year in a segment titled ‘In Memoriam”. The segment usually only lasts about five minutes, but it would seem that this year, they could dedicate an entire show to it.

2016 has been an unusually painful year for celebrity deaths in all aspects of entertainment, culminating in the one-two punch of losing “Star Wars” royalty Carrie Fisher and her Oscar-winning mother Debbie Reynolds just days apart during the final five days of the calendar year. Along with them, 2016 has claimed famous sports figures like Muhammed Ali and Arnold Palmer, as well as music legends such as David Bowie, Prince and George Michael. As a result, the internet has been ablaze about how horrible 2016 has been due to all of these deaths with the public holding its collective breath until 2017 when the slate will be wiped clean – metaphorically, at least…

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NOCTURNAL ANIMALS and TRAVELERS…  One overrated Oscar contender and one great Netflix series…

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS and TRAVELERS… One overrated Oscar contender and one great Netflix series…

Posted on December 26th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

“Nocturnal Animals” (feature film in theaters) – Susan (Amy Adams), a pampered socialite and art gallery owner trudges through her loveless second marriage with her wealthy, yet uninterested husband (Armie Hammer). When her writer/teacher first husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) sends her a manuscript for his new novel, she takes it as a peace offering. Their bitter divorce left them estranged for nineteen years and she reminisces fondly and with regret as the words in his book move her. Eager to reconnect, she reaches out to him, but the story in the book hides an allegory for their failed relationship that could dig the knife in even further.

If “Gone Girl” is widely considered a masterful achievement in storytelling, then “Nocturnal Animals” merely feels like a moderately successful writing experiment. While it starts out like a tense Hitchcockian thriller, it loses momentum and becomes merely an ironic relationship drama…

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ROGUE ONE…  Good but no better than THE FORCE AWAKENS

ROGUE ONE… Good but no better than THE FORCE AWAKENS

Posted on December 19th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

When Disney announced the development of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, I felt it had even more potential than “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, which didn’t fully live up to my expectations. Being the first “Star Wars” spinoff film also meant that it would usher in a new kind of “Star Wars” movie, connected to the originals, yet divorced from the linear ‘Luke Skywalker’ storyline. While “Rogue One” helped expand the mythology, offered some thrilling scenes and added valuably to the franchise, it was still no better than “The Force Awakens” due to glaring flaws in plot, pacing and character development.

Taking place mere days before “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” (the original 1977 film), the story follows a ragtag band of Rebel spies trying to steal the plans for the original Death Star which will eventually lead to Luke Skywalker destroying it…

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SPECTRAL and SIEGE OF JADOTVILLE, 2 Netlix movies worth checking out…

SPECTRAL and SIEGE OF JADOTVILLE, 2 Netlix movies worth checking out…

Posted on December 5th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

Netflix continues its domination of media by declaring it will now focus primarily on producing original material. Its selection of originals is already impressively large, but two new films have set the bar even higher with their attention to quality and entertainment value. These two films alone may be signaling the platform’s transition to fully competing with Hollywood. If you still don’t have Netflix, “The Siege of Jadotville” and “Spectral” are two compelling reasons to consider it…

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ARRIVAL foolishly sidesteps a plot resolution for a vague emotional one…

ARRIVAL foolishly sidesteps a plot resolution for a vague emotional one…

Posted on November 15th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

I’ve seen so many alien invasion movies, I often feel like there are few original storylines to explore. I can often anticipate the twists based on the limited amount of alien invasion scenarios that already exist in fiction and theoretical science. If aliens do visit Earth, there are only a few possibilities as to their intent… 1. Conquest/destruction 2. Aid 3. Passive exploration. Some of the best scientists and science fiction authors agree that if aliens actually make ‘first contact’ with humans, there would be no positive long-term outcome for us, even if they offer to help us. While “Arrival” offers A-list acting, outstanding special effects, and brings some interesting new ideas to the table, it completely fails to address the full consequence of this contact…

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DOCTOR STRANGE is another Marvel winner that breaks barriers…

DOCTOR STRANGE is another Marvel winner that breaks barriers…

Posted on November 8th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

Based off of the Marvel comic book from the 1970’s, Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is an arrogant, yet brilliant New York neurosurgeon, considered the top in his field. After a terrible car crash causes severe nerve damage to both of his hands, he searches for a miracle cure that will restore his steady-handed surgical abilities. A last-ditch effort sends him to Nepal where he meets a mystical guru known as The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who offers him a chance to heal himself through the mastery of magic. Strange reluctantly begins training in the mystic arts and finds that his photographic memory, strong will and precise reflexes make him a prodigious student. As his skills with magic begin to quickly reach the highest levels, he learns that his mentors are involved in a war with a dark magician named Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) who intends to achieve immortality by sacrificing Earth to the evil god ‘Dormammu’. Strange’s quick mastery of magic puts him in the middle of this fight which he has had little time to prepare for…

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Top scary movies for kids growing up in the 80’s…

Top scary movies for kids growing up in the 80’s…

Posted on November 8th, 2016

by Coop Cooper The 80’s was a cinematic golden era for scary PG films, especially before the PG-13 rating changed the landscape of kid/teen-friendly horror movies. Here are a few of the greatest, scary PG movies of that decade: “The Watcher in the Woods” (1980) – One of Bette Davis’ last films, this Disney-produced movie […]

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Did THE WALKING DEAD season 7 premiere go too far?…

Did THE WALKING DEAD season 7 premiere go too far?…

Posted on October 24th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

Sometimes coming up with an article topic or weekly review becomes a difficult process. I watched the Tom Cruise sequel “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” with the full intention of reviewing it, but here is the short version: It’s a mediocre action movie only for fans of either Tom Cruise or the Jack Reacher novel series (2 and ½ out of 5 stars). I also wanted to review the newly released third season of the Netflix sci-fi anthology series of “Black Mirror” which focuses on stories about how technology could make our world a living nightmare. Here’s my quick assessment on that: Ep. 1 “Nosedive”, Ep. 3 “Shut Up and Dance” and Ep. 6 “Hated in the Nation” were brilliantly frightening while the other three episodes were derivative misfires… although Ep. 5 “Men Against Fire” showed potential in concept.

Instead of going in depth with either of these items, I need to address the event on Sunday which has caused a frenzy of heated discussion on the internet. “The Walking Dead” ended its previous season with one of the most infuriating cliffhangers imaginable…

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THE ACCOUNTANT is much better than the title suggests…

THE ACCOUNTANT is much better than the title suggests…

Posted on October 17th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

Ben Affleck stars as Christian Wolff, an autistic savant and accountant, who cooks the books for some of the most notorious criminals on the planet. Meticulous about his every move, he decides to take an assignment at a legitimate prosthetic limb corporation after one too many risky jobs. He finds a kindred spirit in Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), a low-level employee who found the accounting discrepancy which let to his hiring by the company founder, Lamar Black (John Lithgow). When Wolff finds the source of the leaked funds, a couple of company executives end up dead and Wolff discovers that he and Dana have been targeted for assassination. Luckily, Wolff has been trained to deal with dangerous situations and his skill and attention to detail make him a deadly adversary to the assassins lead by the intimidating Brax (John Bernthal).

While this plot line sounds corny, “The Accountant” might be the best action thriller of the year. It feels like a cross between the action/intrigue of the “Bourne” movies mixed with the character complexity of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”.

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WESTWORLD HBO series has more in common with BLADE RUNNER than the original…

WESTWORLD HBO series has more in common with BLADE RUNNER than the original…

Posted on October 10th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

The original 1973 “Westworld” film written/directed by Michael Crichton starred Richard Benjamin and James Brolin as two yuppies who spend a small fortune to visit the adult theme park of the future where humans can experience the old ‘Wild West’ of the late 1800’s. Since the characters in the theme park are played by emotionless robots, the guests can visit brothels and shoot any robot they want without consequence. However, when a glitch in programming causes a robot uprising, they must fight for their lives as they are relentlessly pursued by a villainous gunslinger robot (Yul Brynner) who won’t stop until they are dead.

That simple setup inspired an entire genre of ‘evil robot’ sci-fi movies, made most famous by “The Terminator” film franchise. The new HBO series “Westworld” takes a completely different and more complex approach to the idea by telling the story mostly from the perspective of the robots and the behind-the-scenes employees…

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LUKE CAGE continues Netflix’s Marvel superhero winning streak…

LUKE CAGE continues Netflix’s Marvel superhero winning streak…

Posted on October 10th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

Since the second season of “Daredevil” premiered earlier this year, Marvel Comics fans have been anticipating the release of the African American-themed “Luke Cage” superhero series on Netflix on September 30th. That wait is over and although I think the show has more problems than the brilliant “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones” efforts, its style is more refined and should earn many new fans of this iconic – yet underrated – Marvel superhero. Although he was initially called ‘Power Man’, the moniker didn’t stick. Eventually, the writers of the comics wised-up and realized the name ‘Luke Cage’ was way cooler than ‘Power Man’ could ever be…

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THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016) is a remake I can actually get behind…

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016) is a remake I can actually get behind…

Posted on September 28th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

In a Hollywood bloated with remakes, only a few seem like a good idea. Take the recent remake of “The Magnificent Seven” for example. The original 1960 western was actually a remake itself. “Seven Samurai” (1954) was the true original film which has been remade many times, even into a space opera – “Battle Beyond the Stars” (1980). For a classic property that has been remade so many times, it’s hard to blame a studio for attempting to update the western version of it again, especially when it looks as good as this one…

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THE GOOD PLACE might be NBC’s best new show if it can avoid being the next “Lucifer”…

THE GOOD PLACE might be NBC’s best new show if it can avoid being the next “Lucifer”…

Posted on September 20th, 2016

With the majority of new and returning shows coming to TV this month, critics have singled out “The Good Place” as the best new 30-minute comedy of the season.

Kristen Bell plays Eleanor Shellstrop who awakens to suddenly find herself in the afterlife. Eleanor is greeted by Michael (Ted Danson), the afterlife community administrator, who explains to her that she has been accepted into the very exclusive part of eternity reserved for only the best people on Earth… as opposed to being exiled to ‘the bad place’ with everyone else. She is admitted into a tailor-made utopian community of 300 people and introduced to her assigned soulmate, Chidi (William Jackson Harper), a Sudanese humanitarian. All of this would be perfect except a clerical error has been made and the self-absorbed Eleanor knows she is not the saint everyone expected. Fearing exile to hell, Eleanor tells Chidi the truth and appeals to his generous nature to help her earn a place in heaven before she is found out. As Chidi tries to find some redeeming qualities in Eleanor, the fabric of heaven begins to break down, showing that it is not as perfect as everyone suspects…

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QUARRY perpetuates stereotypes on TV, ATLANTA breaks them…

QUARRY perpetuates stereotypes on TV, ATLANTA breaks them…

Posted on September 15th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

Here are two brand new cable TV series, both taking place in the South, but with very different philosophies when it comes to dealing with stereotypes.. (Disclaimer… I’m not big on “Quarry”)

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Top 10 movies of 2016 so far…

Top 10 movies of 2016 so far…

Posted on September 5th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

My mid-year top 10 list is usually populated with the biggest genre films of the summer and a few wild cards from the beginning of the year. Expect this list to change drastically by the first of January when the rest of the indie films and studio prestige pictures for 2016 finally become available…

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BLOOD FATHER review:  Mel Gibson may not be on the A-List but he’s still got it…

BLOOD FATHER review: Mel Gibson may not be on the A-List but he’s still got it…

Posted on August 29th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

More films with big stars and modest budgets have opted to premiere on Pay Per View or online than ever. Some opt for a limited theater run, with a simultaneous release on services like DirectTV (for rent) or, more often, they bypass the theater release altogether. For example, “Blood Father” starring Mel Gibson, had its premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and is now available to rent on online streaming services like YouTube, Amazon, Vudu and Google Play.

Mel Gibson plays Link, an aging ex-con recently out of the joint and sober. He barely makes ends meet running a tattoo shop out of his trailer when he suddenly gets a desperate call from his runaway addict daughter, Lydia (Erin Moriarty). Lydia has become a target of termination by a drug syndicate after shooting her dealer boyfriend (Diego Luna) during a job gone wrong…

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SUICIDE SQUAD isn’t that bad, but what does it mean for D.C. superhero movies?

SUICIDE SQUAD isn’t that bad, but what does it mean for D.C. superhero movies?

Posted on August 23rd, 2016

by Coop Cooper

I thought too much time had passed for me to review “Suicide Squad” but since the film is still #1 at the box office despite abysmal reviews, the projected bomb has become something of an anomaly.
With Superman temporarily dead, a shadowy government agency lead by the uncompromising Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) decides that the villainous rogues and ‘meta-humans’ they already have in custody might make an effective offensive team against a super-powered threat. When Waller’s most powerful convert, the omnipotent witch known as Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), turns against her and threatens to destroy the world, Waller must activate ‘Task Force X’ and bend the captive supervillains to her whim…

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JASON BOURNE…  Please let this franchise die.

JASON BOURNE… Please let this franchise die.

Posted on August 1st, 2016

by Coop Cooper

Fighting cage matches for cash on the Albanian/Grecian border, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) survives aimlessly off the grid, although seems somewhat bent on self-destruction despite the fact he is still in hiding from the CIA. His old ally, hacker Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), approaches him with a jump drive containing classified information which might lead to him discovering his identity. After a few narrow escapes, Bourne learns that he has a new potential ally in an upstart CIA agent, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), who somehow feels compelled to expose illegal practices of CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones). As Bourne gets closer to the truth, a CIA assassin (Vincent Cassel) doggedly pursues him, blaming Bourne’s previous whistleblowing effort for his own capture and torture in Syria…

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STAR TREK: BEYOND finally goes beyond the source material of the original Trek canon…

STAR TREK: BEYOND finally goes beyond the source material of the original Trek canon…

Posted on July 26th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

As a lifelong ‘Trekkie’ I haven’t been the biggest cheerleader for the J. J. Abrams “Star Trek” motion picture reboot. I gave the first film lukewarm reviews. I like the second one better but upon repeated viewings, I’m seeing a great many flaws. I like the casting and I think the actors have chemistry. I appreciate the production design and I don’t mind the high-concept idea behind the rebooting. The issue has been with Abrams trying to recycle Trek history into an original script that doesn’t insult the intelligence of both lifelong fans and casual viewers. “Star Trek: Beyond” thankfully moves beyond that problem to deliver an original and exciting story the previous two films were lacking…

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THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR proves the franchise is a winner…

THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR proves the franchise is a winner…

Posted on July 7th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

‘The Purge’: A fictional U.S. holiday in which one day out of the year for twelve hours, all crime – including murder – becomes legal. The first film from “The Purge” franchise set up an intriguing dystopian idea and merely touched on its implications, but resulted in little more than a slightly above-par home invasion horror flick. The sequel, “The Purge: Anarchy” took the mythology and ran with it, showing the scope of this brutal holiday from a city-wide perspective. “The Purge: Election Year” further expands the franchise to include some fascinating ideas behind the politics of “The Purge” on a nationwide and global scale…

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