Home Again #review

Single mothers already have a lot on their plates when it comes to raising their kids and providing financially for them. Now, add the city of Los Angeles, turning 40, an emotionally manipulative ex-husband, a supportive and loving mother and three charming young filmmakers from New York and we’ve got a story. So, was “Home Again” the feel good comedy it appeared to be or will we need to divorce ourselves away from this film? Let’s dive and take a look in this review.

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The overall movie examines life through the eyes of the main character Alice (played by Reese Witherspoon). We meet her on her 40th birthday and we get a glimpse into her life, as she perceives it. There are moments that depart from that as she is not in all the scenes and I’m happy to report the supporting cast of characters are each delightful on screen. This felt similar to films like, “Music and Lyrics,” “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” It’s light hearted, humorous, sincere and character driven in how it tells its story.

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Some of the moments in this film felt very real however it tends to shy away from really digging into the issues they present on screen. We get a lot of surface level dialogue about relationships, family, friendship and achieving goals. Typically, we could say that’s a negative but not in this particular instance. The writing and the actors deliver genuine moments that, while they feel thin, still feel true.

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The character struggle that Alice goes through resonated with the (primarily older) female audience I was surround by. In fact, I found myself seated in the midst of women providing real time commentary on the behaviors and actions of the men in the movie as well as Alice’s reaction. This was not a quiet moviegoing experience as the theater, almost in chorus, had an opinion about the men on screen. So, because the film seemed to elicit real emotional responses from the female viewership I enjoyed the film all the more.

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Home Again” is in theaters now! I will recommend you get out and see this film on the big screen. As I mentioned, it doesn’t dig deeply into the characters but as I discovered from the audience response, it did well enough to communicate realism that would evoke true responses from my fellow movie watchers. I laughed and I also could relate to some of the characters in the film at different points in the story which is more than I thought I would get walking into the theater. It’s a heartfelt story that looks at family, friends and being human in todays modern society. Check it out!

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The House #review

I can see a cast listing and know immediately if I’ll have any interest in seeing a film or not. Certain actors I prefer over others for particular movies and I think everyone has that. You’ll see a comedian you love in a movie and you get excited. Perhaps it’s your favorite action star in a new summer blockbuster and now you’re cancelling plans and calling the babysitter for opening night. Certain films you can’t wait to see. Unfortunately, this was not one of those films for me but I do enjoy the actors in this particular movie. So, did “The House” hit a jackpot or go bust? Let’s dive in a take a look in this box office review…

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I need Will Ferrell to start making great comedies again. He has had a string of lackluster films in my opinion and this is the latest addition. This movie almost felt like they took the best part of the actors personalities and said, “we’re just gonna run with this.” At times, it didn’t even feel like the same film. (i.e. Jason Mantzoukas was in his own movie even while sharing screen time with the other actors.) To be fair, some of my issue could be that Jason’s played to perfection an entirely insane character named “Rafi” on the TV show “The League” for a few years. I enjoy that character so much because he’s so over the top that anything goes which is occasionally fun to see. He didn’t break from that character at all for this film. It was like Rafi on Adderall, but only sometimes. The same issue goes for the other two actors from “The League,” Nick Kroll and Rob Huebel. It felt like “The League” meets Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler.

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The plot of the film is that two parents have to get enough money together to send their daughter to college and decide to open up a casino, in a foreclosed house, with their friend who is going through a divorce. The plot is zany enough to provide a few laughs. The characters also provide plenty of laughs despite the previously mentioned issues in the above paragraph. I didn’t have high expectations for this film. In fact, I almost didn’t see it at all. However, I did have a free ticket to see it and so I ventured into the theater. Surprisingly, I laughed more than I thought I would and there’s one or two cameo’s in this film that were enjoyable. My favorite cameo was stand up comedian Sebastian Maniscalco. I’ve seen him live and I enjoy his Netflix specials. When he popped up on screen, performing a stand up routine in a basement that was made to look like an comedy club, I smiled and laughed. There’s so much nonsense in this film it will provide some chuckles.

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“The House” is in theaters now. Skip this movie if you’re looking for films to see this weekend. This is a perfect VOD or Redbox movie for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon on the couch. It doesn’t require any brain power and it will make you laugh. It’s a nonsensical comedy that goes further and further into absurdity with humorous moments and some eye roll, groan in disbelief, moments. Again, my expectations were pretty low and I still walked out of the theater surprised at how much I laughed but that alone is not enough to spend your hard earned money. Save your bucks for “Baby Driver” or “Spiderman Homecoming.”

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[Non Spoiler] Baby Driver #Review

This was the most anticipated film of the year for me. The initial trailer immediately set lofty expectations and the positive news about the movie only helped increase the excitement. The original story, characters and even music were all ingredients that looked to build this film into something fun for the summer time. So, did “Baby Driver” live up to expectations or did it stall out? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review…

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Writer and Director Edgar Wright has made some fun movies that I have enjoyed, and still enjoy to this day. “Baby Driver” is different in style but not story telling. In his films we typically see a film where the world is brighter and more care free, but, by the third act reality has set in and we’re in a dire situation that is dark and dangerous. He follows this trope once again and it continues to work for me. The opening of the film we meet “Baby” (played by Ansel Elgort) who is waiting patiently in his car while playfully dancing to the songs on his iPod while a bank is being robbed immediately left of him. From there, the film gets more and more intense as new villains are added and subtracted.

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Everything about this film felt fresh and unique. This might be the first movie I’ve seen that uses music to help deliver action, dialogue and scene changes. Now, there are plenty of musicals that have been released that do exactly that and I’m not including those films in my previous statement. Musicals tell the story with song as well as dialogue because that’s the appropriate manner for those stories. Since “Baby Driver” is not a musical we must exclude those sing/song films. This is a live action film that has music engrained into the characters and story so well their movements (and the story) feel like dancing. In one scene the gun fire is set off to the music playing. In another, Baby is walking with coffee to the rhythm of the song playing on his iPod. He even drives to the rhythm and timing of the song he choses for each escape route he’s on! There are plenty of charming moments throughout this film before it gets completely dark towards the end of the second act.

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The actors in this film must also be mentioned. The characters are performed so well that each stands out in the scenes they’re in. At no time, does a character feel useless and if you think they might be… there’s a good chance they won’t last much longer. That’s not a spoiler! That’s fair warning. I think this might be Jon Hamm at his best. I say this because of the transformation his character goes through from introduction to finale. Kevin Spacey gives us Kevin Spacey. Jamie Foxx, Jaime Foxx. Even Flea and Lanny Joon offer some levity for the time we spend with them. If DC/Warner Brothers needs any talented and beautiful female actors for their upcoming slate of films, they need to consider Eiza Gonzalez. She played the role of crazy quite well in this movie. She could add quality to a film like “Gotham City Sirens” as a lead female baddie who has a penchant for wearing black leather, snapping a whip and hanging out with cats. I’m just saying, black leather. Consider it Warner/DC.

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In all, this movie works because of the hero story we see Baby go through. He’s a good guy who got a rough turn in life and hung out with the wrong people. In his heart, he’s not a villain despite his actions. This movie is about heart, him trying to move on from his past and the budding relationship we see between him and Debora (Lily James). These two were adorable on screen together. It’s a surprisingly innocent love affair that puts on display who the character of Baby is at his core. In story telling, we often see the protagonist (in this case Baby) called to action for those he loves or the ideals he believes in. This occurs because of his love for Debora (and in part the memory of his mother) and the realization that his life isn’t just about driving anymore. He’s forced to make several decisions and those decisions drive the remainder of the 2nd and 3rd act.

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Baby Driver” is in theaters now! I posted on social media that this might be the very first film this year that, after watching it, I wanted to walk right back into the theater to enjoy it again. I enjoyed this movie immensely! The action, the comedy, the characters, the music and the acting of Ansel as “Baby” was delightful. I had one or two minor moments of confusion or disbelief but overall the film surpassed my already lofty expectations and I can’t wait to see this film again, and then again, again. Get out of the house and go see this film! It’s definitely worth your hard earned dollars and you’ll have a great time at the theater, by yourself, with your friends or on a date. It’s a high paced, heart racing good time at the movies. Go now!

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Inferno – Box Office Review

Ron Howard and Tom Hanks step back into the world of Dan Brown novels as we get the third film in the franchise, Inferno. If you’ve been enjoying the first two films this won’t seem like much of a departure however there are some distinct differences in how the story is told. So let’s dive in and take a look at my thoughts of “Inferno” in this box office review…

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First we’ll start with how the visuals in this story had their own unique look to the trilogy. This film had an almost horror vibe to it in the depiction of apocalyptic events and plagues. However, by the end of the film it falls back in line with how the first two films in the franchise appear. This felt like two different movies. Once we get past the distorted reality that our main character Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) passes through the movie looks like a well shot crime/mystery tale that we’re familiar with from “Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons.” The color choices used in this film elevate the third act as we see the team searching through a cavern, filled with an orchestra performing a concert, where the waters are almost blood red. This is a visually delightful movie.

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Next, the casting in this film is top notch. When I saw Ben Foster was cast I became immediately intrigued. This guy takes every role he accepts and elevates my enjoyment of the film by his talented portrayal of whomever he is representing. In the trailer we see that he jumps off a building to his death but I’m happy to report that he is prevalent throughout the film. Ben Foster fans need not worry about his screen time being minimal. Next, Felicity Jones, Omar Sy and Irrfan Khan add depth to the casting. I wasn’t aware walking in how much I would enjoy this film but the casting has plenty of talent that make each character more believable than was probably needed and that’s ok.

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Inferno” is in theaters now! I’m not sure I’d recommend this film as a big screen viewing. The beginning uses a lot of jump cut scenes that made me feel disoriented. I understand the main character was feeling that but I didn’t need to be taken on the journey that intimate. I found the story not written, necessarily, as a 3 part play but two separate stories and the visuals also feel the same. It’s my favorite of the three only because of the originality used in the visuals and complex twist the film takes in what I’m assuming is the third act. However, at best this film is only mediocre and I’m not comfortable recommending you spend your hard earned dollars on box office ticket prices.

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The Accountant – Box Office Review

One complaint I hear from people that talk movies with me is that the theaters are filled with sequels or reboots. I am led to believe that when original films come out people will rush to the movies because they’re finally getting what they ask for. This isn’t always the case and occasionally an original story that comes out that can both entertain and surprise the audience. So let’s dive in and take a look at my thoughts of “The Accountant” in this box office review…

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Ben Affleck plays a grown man who has a form of autism that turns him into a super math genius. He’s able to calculate equations at incredible speeds and with ease however he has to finish the equation or he falls into a bit of panic and stress. His father, retired military, raised him to overcome his autism and to face life in the manner that life would face him. He’s hyper-intelligent, focused and calculating and a definite threat to anyone who wishes him harm, or worse.

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I was pleased with the story however the characters felt a bit one dimensional. This didn’t bother me much considering all but John Lithgow and John Bernthal’s characters felt one dimensional. So, if everyone is a bit flat it stands to reason that they were directed to feel flat. That being said, the subtle nuisances of the characters were powerful. The flatness of the characters really made the subtle gestures, looks and reactions feel more pronounced and that was a great decision by the director. I enjoyed all the performances in this film and the action sequences did not disappoint.

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The overall story is what one would expect from an accountant for the worlds worst. Eventually, someone is going to want him dead and so the story progresses. What’s great about this particular story though is how everything eventually makes sense by the end of the film and the surprises were refreshing. The overall story isn’t complicated but the way the story is told is creative. I walked out of the theater saying, “oh that’s why…” and “that twist was perfect.” I had some reservations walking into the theater but walked out feeling satisfied and entertained.

The Accountant” is in theaters now! I definitely recommend you see this in theaters. This is the film people ask for when they express their frustrations about reboots and sequels taking up all the theaters. This is a movie for those who enjoy action. This is a movie for those of us who enjoy plot twists and surprises. This is a movie for those of us who enjoy a well written story. Go see this film!

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Keeping Up With the Joneses – Box Office Review

The cast looks good. The trailers looked amusing at best. So we make the decision to either take a chance in the theater hoping for a comedy that over performs OR risk the feeling that we’ve been duped by Hollywood once again. So where does “Keeping Up with the Joneses” fall? Let’s dive in and take a look at my thoughts in this box office review…

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This movie was a snooze fest. I was so bored during the entire film. I did something I never do and because I’m always honest in my reviews I’ll continue that honesty in this review. I was playing on my phone during this movie. That is completely terrible of me I know. I was one of two people in the row and the theater I was in had a wall behind me shielding the people behind me from seeing the glow of my iPhone. I can’t recall a film this year that had me so bored I found google more interesting. I could’ve fallen asleep if I would’ve been tired on any level. This movie did nothing to keep my attention at all. They tried to catch me with Gal Gadot in lingerie but after seeing the trailer so many times it wasn’t enough to grab me. If anything, this movie was Jon Hamm’s audition for any future live action “Archer” film. It’s like his direction was, “just act like Archer”. I kept waiting for him to shout, “LANA!” throughout the entire film but he did not. Color me disappointed.

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Keeping Up With the Joneses” is in theaters now! Skip it. This was beyond boring and barely humorous at all. I won’t waste anymore words on a film this boring because I’m getting bored writing about it. Miss it entirely. Don’t even Redbox it. Just… Don’t.

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Birth of a Nation – Box Office Review

Slavery in American history is not an easy topic to tackle when making a movie. The tone, the mood, the characters, the story and dialogue all amount to what could be considered a herculean task to undertake. So what does Nate Parker decide to do for his directorial debut? He made “Birth of a Nation” and we’re now gonna dive in a take a look at my thoughts about this film…

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First, I’m always honest in my reviews so I’ll continue to be honest, I was not aware this was based on a true story going into the theater. I consider myself a bit of a history fan and that reveal was surprising which caught me off guard. So I was glad I wasn’t just watching a story about history but a story about actual history. That elevated my enjoyment of the film up a few notches.

The story revolves around “Nat Turner” (played by Nate Parker) who is a slave that was taught how to read the Bible and slowly becomes a preacher on the plantation he was sold to. Over time, word spreads to other plantations that the slaves on his particular plantation are more well behaved and his master is propositioned to take Nat on a plantation tour to help other slaves become more obedient and docile by his use of the scriptures in the Bible. Over time, and a very personal abuse, he realizes that subservient behavior is not the path he was destined for and he leads a resistance that ends in bloodshed and gun smoke.

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I loved this movie. Nate Parker captured so much emotion and, also as the director, got so much emotion out of the cast I was mesmerized. This film took me on an emotional journey that was not expected. Being unfamiliar with the actual story I wasn’t disappointed in certain creative liberties he and the writers took with this movie. I was completely entranced by every performance. I hated certain characters, was repulsed by others, saddened for some and felt incredible pride for a few. I was sickened. I was delighted. I was offended. I was inspired. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen and I couldn’t help but let all the feelings rush through me.

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Now that I’ve gushed about all the wonderfulness this movie had, this is not a movie for the faint of heart. This movie is brutal and vicious in its portrayal of slave treatment. Nate Parker pulls zero punches when it comes the mistreatment of slaves and it will force you to examine your understanding of early, Pre to During Civil War America. One scene in particular, we see a slave who refuses to eat while chained up in a small wooden shed and the insane method of force feeding that takes place. You see it all. The audience is not spared the visual disturbances because Parker made the decision to give you realism that was necessary, in my opinion. My stomach turned and I’m sure yours will as well.

Birth of a Nation” is in theaters now! If you enjoy movies about America during the civil war times, or historical movies, this is a movie for you. If you want an oscar worthy film, this is also the film for you. I walked out of the theater talking about this film with the older black couple I sat next to in theater. We couldn’t help but continue discussing this film because it’s that good and that powerful. Be prepared to feel all the emotions and don’t be surprised if you find yourself talking with strangers walking out of the theater about your thoughts and feelings about this incredible film.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Box Office Review

It’s no secret to people I discuss movies with, or to listeners of the Maskerpiece Theatre podcast, that I’m a fan of Tim Burton movies. The visual style he has is unique to him and his vision for how characters and stories should look is something I look forward to when I hear he’s making a new film or I’m revisiting a film he’s already made that I probably own. So let’s dive in and take a look at my thoughts on “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” in this box office review…

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First, this film was everything I wanted from a story about kids with powers who live in a creepy home that’s stuck in time, forever repeating the same day. Every day, when the bombers are flying over the house about to destroy it with bombs Miss Peregrine stops time and rewinds it back to the morning of that day. The children all have chores they complete on a very strict schedule because any deviation from that schedule could result in the clock not being reset and the bombs landing on the home destroying everything and everyone. This is of course jumping ahead in the story quite a bit because the main character, portrayed by Asa Butterfield, is a loner who is trying to figure out the mysterious death of his grandfather who everyone believes was crazy or had dimensia. It is in fact the monster he sees after finding his dead grandfather that drives him to investigate his grandfathers life, while his parents believe him to be just as mad as his late grandfather.

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The characters in this story all felt mostly natural, assuming they had the “gifts” they possessed in the film. The only stand out character was “Franklin” the father of Jake, played by Chris O’Dowd. His character didn’t feel natural at all and the American accent he attempted to have was poorly delivered. Considering most of the movie takes place outside of America, I would’ve been fine with his character having a British accent. If he, perhaps, didn’t have to focus on sounding American, he might’ve been able to portray a worried but not overly concerned father who’s into photographing birds.

The action sequences where the special powers are all displayed were entertaining and the villain, portrayed by Samuel Jackson, was also believable however campy. This would be the second film where I felt Sam Jackson was playing a caricature and not an actual villain, the first being his role in “Kingsman”. His performance didn’t bother me, in fact I found him to be a nice adjustment from the more intense characters the children portrayed and the reasons they hid from him. His over-the-top performance felt like a mustache twirling bad guy and considering he eats a bowl of eye balls and is caught fighting a rogue band of skeletons, I was perfectly fine with his performance. It fit in this film and that’s what matters.

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Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children” is in theaters now! If you enjoy Tim Burton films or just a fresh story that is like nothing you’ll see this year, go see this on the big screen. It’s definitely worth it and you won’t be disappointed. It’s fun but not fun for the whole family if you have kids under the age of 13. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and I might even see it a second time while I wait for “Doctor Strange” to arrive in theaters next week.

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Deepwater Horizon – Box Office Review

In April of 2010, an offshore drilling rig exploded. This story was captured on all news networks and talked about nonstop because of the lasting impact it had on the families of the workers, the oil industry and the environment of the gulf coast. So, why not make a movie about the event? Let’s dive in and take a look at my thoughts of “Deepwater Horizon” in this box office review…

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Mark Wahlberg continues to be the champion performer celebrating the life of the blue collar worker. We’ve seen a few movies where he’s portrayed either a body builder, a gambler, a member of the US Armed Forces, a Fisherman or a Boston cop. In this next performance he’s a career oil worker with a wife and kid who both adore him. He gives a great performance in this film as well. The beginning of the film he’s charming and by the end he’s a man who must act to save those he cares about and then the after math of the explosion.

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This film is stacked with talent. I was happy to see Kurt Russell and Kate Hudson back on the big screen. Kurt Russell plays his role to excellence and considering the tragedy that occurs to him personally and how well he portrays that pain and agony, just wow. Kate Hudson plays the loving and determined wife but in all honesty, I would’ve enjoyed a bit more believability during the crying scene where she finds out about what’s happening on the oil rig. It didn’t look like crying to me personally as much as the tears we get from onions being cut. Other than that, I enjoyed her performance.

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Deepwater Horizon” is in theaters now! If you enjoy biopics this is a movie for you. This film is dialogue city and it’s a story of people. The film itself isn’t surprising if you remember the events that occurred 6 years ago but if you don’t know about it, then you might find yourself feeling a bit more stress up into the ending of this movie. The characters are all acted well and the talent in this film is top notch. It’s worth the big screen ticket price or the matinee $5 price.

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Magnificent 7 – Box Office Review

There’s plenty of films being remade or rebooted currently in theaters. Some of these retellings are done well, as we’d hope. Some leave us wondering why film studios would even bother remaking the movie at all (cough, Ben Hur, cough, cough). The fact is, films are getting a fresh look by modern story tellers and because of that I bring my thoughts on the remake, “Magnificent 7’ in this box office review…

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Director Antoine Fuqua continues to make entertaining action films along with his muse Denzel Washington. The director/actor relationship between these two seem to work and fortunately for us they continue to make movies together. After seeing of few of his movies, I now know what to expect before walking into the theater. I wasn’t disappointed at all by the grittiness, violence or tone of this movie. I anticipate this style of story telling from him and, for the most part, I enjoy his approach to movie making. I was a bit put off by the initial monologue of the villain, played by Peter Sarsgaard. I enjoy westerns and period pieces when told well. I doubt highly though, in a wild west town the main villain would give a speech about “capitalism” and refer to it by such a name. I felt that this aspect of the monologue was a bit too on the nose with recent events for a period piece set in the wild wild west.

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The violence in this film was everything I wanted from a western. Gun play, knife throwing, arrows being shot into people, fists to faces, horse riding tricks and even a gatling gun are part of this action packed onscreen adventure. I was not in the slightest disappointed with this aspect of the movie. I loved all the fighting, explosions and casualties. It was great fun and one of the most entertaining westerns I’ve seen in awhile.

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Magnificent 7” is in theaters now! If you’re a fan of the original, which I just re-watched before writing this review, you’ll appreciate the similarities but could be put off by some of the differences. Probably the most altering difference was the ending. The original lends itself to a more touching conclusion. The remake is pretty straight forward in that it’s action, action, action, and now it’s over. If you’ve never seen the original, check it out one Sunday afternoon while sitting at home on the couch. Another difference was the language used in each film. The original is bit cleaner and less racist. However, both are entertaining films and I recommend you get off the couch and get into the theater to see this remake.

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