Ben's Blurbs

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Inspiring, and occasionally ambitious, but at times it feels like it's been done before—not unlike a lot of Springsteen songs.

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT

GRADE: B+

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THE KITCHEN

It's as if the filmmakers put every mediocre crime movie into a blender and hit "purée" until the motor overheated.

GRADE: D

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Hugely entertaining and well-crafted, but I left the theater wondering what the point of it all was. The whole is less than the sum of its parts, but, brother, the parts are good.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

GRADE: B+

Weird in all the right ways. It's basically Fight Club for millennials, and I mean that as a compliment to the movie and millennials.

THE ART OF SELF DEFENSE

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GRADE: B+

STUBER

GRADE: C-

A script so uninspired that even the charisma of Bautista and Nanjiani couldn't make it work. The movie is as forgettable as this blurb.

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THE LION KING

It flashes once or twice, and Eichner and Ejiofor are great. but the editing is odd, the direction sterile. The scenes all feel disconnected from one another, floating in a sea of easy money.

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GRADE: C-

"Do we really need these Disney remakes?" No, but at least this one has some charm. Will Smith is actually great, but Naomi Scott is the standout. Harmless nostalgia isn't always bad.

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ALADDIN

GRADE: B

They took Mysterio—an objectively silly character—and made him work in live-action, without actually changing him much. Some scenes feel like the '90s cartoon, remade with a massive budget, and that's awesome.

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME

GRADE: B

GRADE: B

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Every interesting idea in this movie is quickly discarded in favor of by-the-numbers rom-com schlock. I want to wake up in a world where it doesn't exist so someone can re-make it.

YESTERDAY

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GRADE: C-

It's well-made, but the themes contradict themselves and the prior movies in the series. Should be called Woody's Nonsensical Mid-Life Crisis.

TOY STORY 4

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GRADE: C-

Creative and inspired. It's a complete film: funny, heartbreaking, moving, and just plain entertaining. And no one has ever played a supportive introvert better than Jamie Bell.

ROCKETMAN

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GRADE: A

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3

A series with top-notch fight choreography—combining the realistic with the ridiculous—takes it to a new level in the first twenty minutes when John basically shoots a horse at a guy.

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GRADE: B

A thought-provoking look at the Satanic Temple. Arguably the most fun-to-say movie title of the year.

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HAIL SATAN?

GRADE: B

This is a traditional superhero movie that's been turned into a delightful family flick. I would probably grade it higher if I was delightful and/or a family man.

SHAZAM!

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GRADE: B-