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More entertaining than it has any right to be, this movie has the “nerve” to still fall short.

Is it worth $10? Yes

“What did I just watch?” My friend asked as the house lights came up at our screening of “Nerve,” the new teen friendly, um, thriller? Comedy? Romance? Social Commentary? I don’t know what to call it, so his is a fair question. Truth is, “Nerve” is all of those things, so maybe a better title would have been “etc.” Bad news is that it bites off more than it can chew and doesn’t fulfill the demands of the genres it tackles. Good news is that the movie still manages to be a fun ride, for its first two acts, at least.

Emma Roberts stars as Vee, a senior in high school and a bit of a wallflower until she’s introduced to an online game called “NERVE.” It’s basically an escalated version of “Truth or Dare” that involves players and watchers. Players film themselves as they perform escalating dares devised by the watchers for a cash amount. Vee, in an attempt to break out of her shell, becomes a player and finds herself on an initially fun but increasingly dangerous adventure with another mysterious player and potential love interest, Ian (Dave Franco). 

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“Hardcore Henry” and “Criminal” are also new to Blu-Ray this week.

Perhaps my liking of “The Boss” comes from low expectations. I hated “Tammy,” the last foray into comedy from director Ben Falcone and star Melissa McCarthy--who co-wrote the script together--and by that I mean both the movie and the title character. I found her to be a mean, spiteful, vindictive, vile monster of a human being with pretty much no redeeming qualities. What’s worse, others around her put up with her horrible behavior or did very little to counteract it. If ever a character was in need of some comeuppance, it was Tammy, and it left me extremely dissatisfied that she never got it.

The trailers for “The Boss” looked like it was going to be more of the same. Ben Falcone would direct as his wife Melissa McCarthy once again plays a horrific she-devil of a woman who walks all over people and never gets the pushback she deserves. I’m not sure if, as writers, McCarthy and Falcone learned from the mistakes of “Tammy,” (did they perhaps actually listen to the critics and understand why it was bad?), or if the addition of screenwriter Steve Mallory made a difference, but “The Boss” is a much, much better movie than “Tammy.”

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With J.J. Abrams out of the director’s chair the film lacks familiarity, but there’s enough good stuff here to make it worth seeing.

Is it worth $10? Yes

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Gene Roddenberry-created “Star Trek” television series, so it’s eerily apropos that, much like this storied franchise itself through the decades, “Star Trek: Beyond” has some clear ups and downs. It’s easily the weakest of the three new “reboot” movies, and lacks the urgency and familiarity that made the first two so memorable. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its moments, and when it does, it really delivers.

At the start of “Beyond,” the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise is bored beyond belief. It’s year three of its five-year mission to seek out new life and new civilizations, and all is peaceful in the galaxy. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) yearns for some action. Be careful what you wish for, James T.

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Your enjoyment is going to be pretty frozen with this less than fantastic sequel.

Is it worth $10? No  



It’s time for your weekly tour of the macabre with your horror guide… oh wait, this is a kid’s movie? OK, sorry let me put my youthful reviewer hat on...

Travel back for the fifth time. As you enter the prehistoric world of "Ice Age: Collision Course," more than just the end of this frozen land is at stake – the end of the franchise appears to be looming very heavily as well.

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Horror pic with great buzz delivers with legit scares and serious thrills.

Is it worth $10? Yes

For all the bad horror movies with predictable scares and schlocky effects, “Lights Out” is a breath of fresh air, a real seat-jumper full of “oh no” moments and legitimate fright. It’s everything you want a horror movie to be, but rarely is.

The story centers on Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) and her little step brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman), who can’t sleep because he’s afraid of the dark. He has good reason. Rebecca sympathizes because when she was his age (about 10 years old) she too was tormented by a demon named Diana (Alicia Vela-Bailey) when the lights were off. She escaped Diana by moving out of the house, but that solution doesn’t work for Martin. With their mother Sophie (Maria Bello) no help at all, but Rebecca’s doting boyfriend Bret (Alexander DiPersia) doing everything he can to protect them, Rebecca and Martin try to figure out how to get rid of the demon once and for all.

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“Batman v. Superman: Dawn Justice” also explodes onto Blu-Ray this week.

There’s a scene mid-way through “Elvis and Nixon” that perfectly encapsulates how well the movie is made. It involves Elvis (Michael Shannon) presenting Nixon (Kevin Spacey) with the gift of a World War II era service revolver. The gun is clear—i.e., no bullets in it. The Secret Service made sure of that. But the way that Elvis is holding the gun, he’s casually pointing it at Nixon’s chest. Nixon is unphased, as he should be—he knows he has nothing to worry about. But watching the scene, I couldn’t help feel an incredible amount of dread and tension that the gun would accidentally discharge a bullet right into Nixon’s chest.

Of course, Elvis Presley did not shoot Richard Nixon. I know this. Had things gone down like that, it would have been a major historical event and one we still talk about today. But the performances by Shannon and Spacey are so electrifying and convincing. I was so invested in the characters and their meeting that I was genuinely worried about something that did not and could not happen. Preposterous, I know, but there we are. That’s the power of great performances.

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Reboot falls well short of the beloved original on laughs and action.

Is it worth $10? No



There’s something strange in the neighborhood, and it happens to be the reboot/retread known as "Ghostbusters." While there is a good amount of nostalgia, it's scary how much about this film misses the mark. 



Physicist Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Paranormal Researcher Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) reunite after years of being estranged to prove that ghosts are real. Along with engineer and scientist Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), and New York transit worker and self-taught historian, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), they form a paranormal investigation team that runs into an army of malevolent spirits being led with a sinister purpose. Of course they have the tools and the talent to take care of these specters. Hell, you know they also plan to save New York from certain doom. After all, a "real" ghost hunter would always be prepared for such an amazing feat. Ehemmm. Yeah right.

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A unique mixture of genres yields a crowd-pleasing adventure film.

Is it worth $10? Yes

“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is an odd movie. That’s not a dismissal, just an observation. It’s a strange amalgamation of genres and tones that mixes high drama with deadpan humor and adventure with a dose of unexpected action. That by itself makes the movie stand out, especially as it’s released in the middle of the summer movie season, which tends to favor safe movies with their edges shorn down in order to appeal to the masses. “Wilderpeople’s” edges stick out, and sometimes precipitously, but for the most part it mixes its genres well and presents a good story, well told. What else could you ask for?

Twelve year-old Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is an abandoned, rebellious child from the city who fancies himself a “gangster.” Shifted from one home to another, he ends up at a farm on the outskirts of New Zealand’s bush (jungle/rainforest) where he’s been adopted by the warm Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and the gruff Uncle Hec (Sam Neill). With Bella’s kind but firm guidance, Ricky begins to acclimate to life on a farm. Sadly, tragedy strikes and Ricky has to go back to the city. He runs off into the jungle instead with Uncle Hec in hot pursuit. Looking as though Hec has kidnapped Ricky, a manhunt ensues and an adventure begins for Ricky and Hec.

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Bryan Cranston leads a strong cast in this tense drama about undercover agents, drug lords, and constant danger.

Is it worth $10? Yes

Fresh off an Oscar nomination for “Trumbo” and a great turn as President Lyndon Johnson on HBO’s “All The Way,” not to mention his four Emmy awards for playing Walter White on AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” Bryan Cranston is among the most respected and sought after actors working today. But there’s a downside to this: It puts him in a highly perilous position to choose the right roles to keep his stardom soaring. Turns out “The Infiltrator” was a darn good choice.

It’s 1985, and the Medellin drug cartel is smuggling 15 tons of cocaine worth $400 million into the United States every week. Enter U.S. Customs Agent Bob Mazur (Cranston), a pro’s pro whose new partner Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo) has an “in” with a drug dealer linked to Colombian kingpin Pablo Escobar. Working undercover in Tampa, Mazur, using the pseudonym Bob Musella, presents himself as a businessman who can launder drug money back to Colombia through his legitimate companies. Bob earns the trust of drug dealers Gonzalo Mora (Simon Andreu), his son (Ruben Ochandiano), and Javier Ospina (Yul Vazquez), and later Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt).

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“Allegiant” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.

There are these events on Youtube called “hangouts.” They are exactly what they sound like: a bunch of creators get together and shoot the breeze over a variety of topics that interest them while all the while cracking jokes, waxing philosophical, and debating each other. Writer-director Richard Linklater’s latest comedy, “Everybody Wants Some!!,” feels like a hangout.

Doing what he did with the trials and tribulations of a group of 1970s high school students in “Dazed and Confused,” Linklater moves the action in “Everybody Wants Some!!” to the trials and tribulations of college students in 1980. But these aren’t just regular college students. Jake (Blake Jenner), Finnegan (Glen Powell), McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), Dale (J. Quinton Johnson) and the rest of the crew, who live in two houses on campus, are all on the baseball team.

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Recent Articles

Nerve **1/2
More entertaining than it has any right to ...
Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: The Boss
“Hardcore Henry” and “Criminal” are also ...
Star Trek: Beyond ***
With J.J. Abrams out of the director’s chair ...
Ice Age: Collision Course *1/2

Your enjoyment is going to be pretty frozen ...
Lights Out ***
Horror pic with great buzz delivers with legit ...
Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Elvis and Nixon
“Batman v. Superman: Dawn Justice” also explodes ...
Ghostbusters **
Reboot falls well short of the beloved ...

Best Movie In Theaters Now: The Conjuring 2

This is the best horror movie in a long, long time.

Is it worth $10? Yes



You might think horror movies just aren't scary anymore. Predictable and tired retreads of a genre once lively with innovation keep spitting out garbage every year. But there’s redemption: A shining beacon named "The Conjuring 2" has emerged from that darkness and is truly the scariest film since “The Exorcist.”



Taking place six years after the first film’s events, we find our paranormal couple Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren having gained worldwide notice from the Amityville Haunting. They have taken a self-imposed break from the spiritual world, which has begun to take a toll on them with haunting visions. They are also mired with skeptics questioning their credibility as legit paranormal investigators.

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