‘Goosebumps’ is a ghastly good time


Theatrical release poster. Columbia Pictures.

Films based off of books rarely work as well as their source material, but every so often one comes along that pays perfect tribute to its written form. “Goosebumps” is a newly released Rob Letterman directed film based off of the classic 90’s book series of the same name by R.L. Stine. The film pays homage to the many ghoulish creatures Stine created, some so iconic they actually elicit a surge of nostalgic love when they’re doing their best to be scary. It’s a film that really harkens back to the original series and the youthful fright of excitement it provokes and to the writer Stine is. Not nearly a groundbreaking foray into film, “Goosebumps” is an odd example of that not mattering; the film is exciting fun throughout.

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‘Pan’ lacks Peter’s magic


Theatrical release poster. Warner Bros. Pictures.


Peter Pan is one of the more iconic characters within the children’s literature world, the work of J.M. Barrie providing his background. Pan’s story has been most notably made popular via Disney’s animated film, but a new Joe Wright directed live-action film, “Pan,” offers a reimagining of the original mythos, taking us back to a time before Peterbecame Peter Pan. It’s an origin story, giving us insight into the lovable and iconic characters of Peter Pan (Levi Miller), James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), and Mr. Smee (Adeel Akhtar). But the main charm of who Peter Pan is widely known as is lost in “Pan,” just a shred of his fun loving, adventure seeking personality remaining. The story of this reimagined origin takes everything away from the original themes that make Peter Pan the character and Peter Pan the story so beloved, which is a shame because there’s a major forlorn existence of Peter that is critical in making him the character he deserves to be.

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‘The Martian’ explores thought on Mars

The Martian
Theatrical release poster. 20th Century Fox.

The Martian” is a Ridley Scott science fiction directed film following the journey of Mark Watney (Matt Damon) as he fights to live in solitude on the planet Mars after being left behind during an exploration mission. Based on the novel of the same name by Andy Weir, it’s a book-to-film project that actually sustains the acclaim from its source material. It’s a film largely about solitude, science and exploration, and using knowledge to solve problem after problem. It’s a visual delight with storytelling that at times seems dauntingly laborious, but is whittled down to showcase the core themes presented throughout.

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‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’

Scorch Trials
Theatrical release poster. 20th Century Fox.

“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” is the follow up to 2014’s “The Maze Runner,” both directed by Wes Ball. Based upon the novel of the same name by James Dashner, “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” continues the adventures of Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and the rest of the Gladers as they traverse a barren wasteland in order to save their lives. Aside from that loose outline of the plot, the film manages to divert away from many of the main events of the novel, which is similar to the way the first installment was presented. And like the original “The Maze Runner,” this sequel loses a lot of the feeling and intrigue—feeling and intrigue that was critical in making the novel a page-turner—when translated from book to film.

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‘We Are Your Friends’ proves that music matters

We Are Your Friends
Theatrical release poster. Warner Bros. Pictures.

We Are Your Friends” marks Max Joseph’s feature length directorial debut and it manages to elicit some sense of feeling, confronting the harsh realities of life. Following the journey of four young, twenty-something friends living in the San Fernando Valley trying to make something of themselves, the film reads deeply into the trials and tribulations of the real world. Focusing on the electronic dance music scene (EDM), we see aspiring DJ Cole Carter (Zac Efron) working to create the right mix to become the next big thing. While highly focused on music, the film tends to forget about the meat and substance of what drives a plot forward, though it does still manage to elicit feeling by using the aforementioned EDM tracks throughout to coincide with the actual message and purpose of what is trying to be portrayed.

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‘Fantastic Four’ is nothing but abysmal

Fantastic Four
Theatrical release poster. 20th Century Fox.

There comes a time when something just isn’t done properly. With the slew of superhero movies churned out year after year, there was one that was bound to be interpreted in a less than stellar way. Such is the case for the newest super human reimagining, “Fantastic Four.” There are certain things a super hero movie needs in order to survive and earn critical acclaim, and there’s especially something very key to include in an origin story. “Fantastic Four” works as an extremely intensive, laborious origin of the super human team, and therein lies the main, glaring problem: it never strayed from telling the story, nor did it do anything to move it along.

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‘Ant-Man’ is a grand adventure

Ant Man
Theatrical release poster. Marvel Studios.

Marvel’s “Ant-Man” rounds out Phase Two, tying nicely into the universe the studio created. It follows the story of ex-con Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as he dons the Ant-Man suit created and used by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). When a new threat emerges in the form of Hank’s protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), Lang must work with Pym to steal Cross’ Yellow Jacket suit in order to prevent him from using it for evil. It’s a story that coalesces nicely with what “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” set up, living in the same world as, while also individualizing itself from, the super hero team.

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‘Paper Towns’ is headed for the shredder

Paper Towns
Theatrical release poster. 20th Century Fox.

Paper Towns” is a recent book-to-film adaptation, the novel of which was written byJohn Green (author of “The Fault in Our Stars”). Sitting idly in the teen romancedramedy genre, “Paper Towns” is not likely to achieve the same acclaim “The Fault in Our Stars” achieved due to the lack of depth and development to the characters or plot. What it does manage, however, is to inspire the start of something, to break free, and to expand horizons before it’s too late, but even that’s done almost halfheartedly, the substance of the message feeling as papery as the film’s title.

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‘Inside Out’ is the best emotional roller coaster you will ride


Inside Out
Theatrical release poster. Walt Disney Studios.


They’ve done it again. Nearly twenty years later, the studio that brought us “Toy Story” is still making hits that cause a wave of surging emotion to well up, touching you in ways you never understood possible. Pixar’s “Inside Out” is the fifteenth film delivered to us, and it’s filled mostly with joy with a tinge of wistful sadness added in. But it isn’t a bad sadness; instead, it’s one we welcome, that makes us happier for feeling because it brings us to a place of realizing why Pixar is so great. “Inside Out” plays on these emotions perfectly, personifying them into human-like entities inside the head of Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), making us imagine that’s what’s happening inside of us as we feel certain things. It’s a thoughtful film, an original one, one full of fun, laughs, and the aforementioned sadness and joy. And those are the things that make Pixar churn out hit after hit. It’s a trusted formula and one that “Inside Out” manages to reinvent and execute effortlessly, making it a top tier Pixar film.

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Ranking Pixar’s success

Pixar Animation film logos. Walt Disney Studios & Pixar Animation.

Pixar Animations Studios has been a beloved part of the animated film industry, providing inspiration, enjoyment, laughs and love through its fourteen feature films. On June 19, 2015, the studios fifteenth installment, “Inside Out,” hits theaters. It will likely join the ranks of Pixar’s greatest, raking in millions upon millions of dollars at the box office. But the question still lingers: where will it fall in Pixar’s repertoire? Will it top them all, becoming the best Pixar film made, or will it fall by the wayside and be a bump in the road, becoming the black sheep of the Pixar family? Pixar hasn’t had many of those according to the box office success all of their films claimed, though some do lack the touching charm that makes Pixar so iconic.

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