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Mania Review: Big Eyes by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(December 25, 2014)
For better or worse, Big Eyes is resolutely a Tim Burton joint, surprising considering its relatively straightforward subject matter. It recounts the bizarre tale of Walter and Margaret Keane (Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams), who produced a series of kitsch

Mania Review: Into the Woods by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(December 25, 2014)
Rob Marshall is a weird director for me. By and large, I’ve hated his work – HATED it – but I love what he did with the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie (unlike most of the civilized world) and when he plays to his strengths, he’s not bad. Into

The Winter of '84: Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(December 22, 2014)
1984 was truly the year that Cannon Pictures came into its own, and nothing signifies its glorious awfulness more than the immortal Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. Not a single internet wag in the civilized world can resist stapling “Electric Boogaloo

Mania Review: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(December 19, 2014)
We get a Hugh Jackman cameo towards the end of the latest Night at the Museum movie. It’s awesome. So awesome, in fact, that it actually seems to snap the entire film into focus and delivers a surprisingly strong third act to what looked like another poi

The Winter of '84: 1984 by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(December 18, 2014)
I'm still a little shocked that Hollywood in its infinite wisdom chose to release two high-profile adaptations of science fiction classics on the same day. The bigger of the two was Dune, which laid a massive egg but did so in such spectacular and grandios

Mania Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(December 17, 2014)
We come to the finale at last, and the bill is past due. We saw it from the very first Hobbit film, and it remains the central, tragic flaw in the whole trilogy. Namely that it ever was a trilogy to begin with: stretching the source material well past the

The Winter of '84: Runaway by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(December 17, 2014)
Even very smart people can drop the ball every now and then. The late Michael Crichton scored his share of winners at the box office -- notably Jurassic Park and The Great Train Robbery -- but not all of his ideas translated well to the big screen. Case in

The Winter of '84: Starman by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(December 16, 2014)
How wonderful it can be to watch a noted director stretch his boundaries. Even if the results aren't entirely successful (say with Steven Spielberg and The Color Purple), such efforts signal a maturation in the director's vision and a willingness to push p

The Winter of '84: Dune by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(December 15, 2014)
I re-watched David Lynch’s Dune over a week before sitting down to write this review, and I’m still not certain what the hell to say about it. It’s a mess: the kind of glorious, overly-ambitious disaster that only comes when a brilliant maverick gain

Mania Review: Exodus: Gods and Kings by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(December 12, 2014)
I’m not a religious man and I’ve generally found that you don’t need to embrace a particular theological viewpoint to make a good religious picture. You do, however, need to be engaged in the subject: that is, you need to have an opinion regarding li

The Winter of '84: 2010: The Year We Make Contact by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(December 09, 2014)
I think critics condemned 2010 almost as a matter of principle rather than any specific problem with the film. Its predecessor still stands as a landmark of science fiction and the high water mark for one of cinema’s most vaunted directors. Naturally, th

The Winter of '84: Beverly Hills Cop by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(December 08, 2014)
Everything that’s right and wrong about the Hollywood formula can be found in Beverly Hills Cop: the movie that made Eddie Murphy a superstar, cemented the modus operandi of producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, and emerged as the highest grossing

Mania Review: The Pyramid by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(December 05, 2014)
Ah, found footage: my old nemesis. We meet again. The problem with the format – besides the chronic need for Dramamine – is that it facilitates all kinds of laziness in the rest of the production. You don’t need to worry about lighting or blocking o

Mania Review: The Babadook by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(November 26, 2014)
Say you’ve got a six-year-old who sees monsters in his closet. No big deal, right? But what if he won’t give up the notion? He scares other kids with his monster stories. He explains to adults how the monster will devour them in various gruesome ways.

Mania Review: The Penguins of Madagascar by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(November 26, 2014)
The Madagascar series has a way of surprising me, even when it doesn’t have the purest motivations in mind. They’ve always been corporate product at their core, and the persistence of that quartet of paranoid penguins speaks to a studio happy to milk t

The Fall of '84: Supergirl by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(November 24, 2014)
We’re all neck-deep in the debate over superheroines in the movies right now: why there aren’t more of them and how Hollywood continues to fumble the ball over what should be a simple equation. 1984’s Supergirl demonstrates how little things have cha

Mania Review: VHS: Viral by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(November 21, 2014)
I've struggled mightily with the VHS series before finally coming down on its side, finding enough worthwhile elements to overlook its scattershot format. Horror fans need to watch the series, if only because it makes a reliable Petri dish for some of the

Mania Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(November 21, 2014)
As movie franchises go, The Hunger Games stands as a leader, not a follower. Just as The Lord of the Rings spawned a series of inferior would-be fantasy epics, and our current superhero Shangri-La pretty much dances to the MCU’s tune, the tale of Katniss

The Wind Rises Blu-ray Review by Kimberly McCall, Critic
(November 19, 2014)


The Fall of '84: Night of the Comet by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(November 18, 2014)
The problem with reviewing cult films is similar to the problem with reviewing comedies: you’re attempting to apply objective criteria to what boils down to a subjective experience. The appeal of cult movies defies analysis to some extent. Beyond saying

The Fall of '84: Missing in Action by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(November 17, 2014)
I'll say this much for Chuck Norris: the man is consistent. He was just as insane thirty years ago as he is today, and listening to his thunderingly ignorant far-right xenophobia these days isn't nearly as fun as watching up there on the screen. Hence, Mis

THE VANISHING: Criterion Blu-ray Review by Robert T. Trate, Columnist and Critic
(November 16, 2014)


Mania Review: Dumb and Dumber To by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(November 14, 2014)
If you fancy a return to the mid 1990s, when Jim Carrey ruled the box office and comedies made copious use of bodily excretions, then Dumb and Dumber To is the Wayback Machine for you. It doesn’t do anything that the first Dumb and Dumber didn’t do, ju

The Fall of '84: Oh, God! You Devil by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(November 12, 2014)
Somewhere deep down, I think we all want God to be like George Burns: a sweet Borscht Belt guy who likes giving us a hard time, but really loves us and wants us to do well. Burns struck gold with the original Oh, God! and the trick was good enough to float

The Fall of '84: Silent Night, Deadly Night by Rob Vaux, Mania Critic
(November 11, 2014)
If you smear yourself in fecal matter and run screaming through the streets with lit firecrackers in your hand, you’re going to attract a crowd. In 2014, we call that “Tuesday on the Internet.” Back in 1984, we called it Silent Night, Deadly Night: a

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