Alone (2020) [Fantasia Fest 2020]

John Hyams’ “Alone” begins kind of sketchy. In fact I spent the first fifteen minutes not quite sure where the screenplay was going, if anywhere. But sticking with it, I’m glad to discover that “Alone” is one of the best and most exciting thrillers of the year. While it does get off to kind of a sputter, it transforms in to a journey of self discovery and evolution for a woman who is shambles when we first meet her. By the end, she has to figure out if she can keep charging head first in to the world, or if she wants to recede back in to the night.

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Impractical Jokers: The Movie (2020)

The problem with big screen adaptations of big television shows is that the commercials can sometimes save a tanking episode. Commercials can break the monotony and sometimes give the audience a chance to regroup. While “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” can benefit from an ad break or two, struggling to keep the energy well in to the hour mark, it’s a very good extension of the hit TV show.

Even if it’s niche cinematic affair for the fans like me that watch the series religiously.

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The Jesus Rolls (2020)

As a hardcore fan of “The Big Lebowski” I felt it was my duty to check out “The Jesus Rolls,” one of the most inexplicable movies of 2020 so far. For fans of the original 1998 Coen Brothers masterpiece, Jesus Quintana is a familiar name, an adversary of The Dude who is also a very small supporting player in “The Big Lebowski.” For reasons never quite clarified (or even justified), John Turturro who portrayed Jesus, brings the character back for a pseudo-sequel that is kind of a follow up to “The Big Lebowski,” but not quite. It’s a surprisingly saccharine and dramatic film and a pretty dull one at that.

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Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

After some um—rather interesting internet ballyhoo, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is finally brought to the big screen in what is a shockingly good adaptation. Although I’d argue that the “video game movie curse” ended in 2018 (ahem–“Tomb Raider”), “Sonic the Hedgehog” does open the door for more, higher quality video game movies down the road. While I’d be hard pressed to say that “Sonic” re-invents the wheel, it also dodges a lot of video game movie pitfalls by side stepping cloying pop culture references, and paying homage to the source material.

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Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019)

No one loves Kevin Smith more than Kevin Smith. He’s a fan of not just building this façade of an extended universe with his films, but the smug idea that he ultimately rejected Hollywood when all is said and done. After endless efforts to hit the mainstream vein, and re-invent himself as a horror director, Smith has come back to doing what he does best: Repeating himself, repeating the same old jokes, and giving his hardcore fans a ton of weed jokes, and near endless pop culture references about “Star Wars” and “Batman.”

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Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

So far we’re about ten alternate time lines deep in to the “Terminator” series, a movie franchise that continues to chug on thanks to the good word from James Cameron. Methinks without Cameron, “Terminator” would and should be put to sleep as a limp IP that loses more and more fans every single year. The convoluted timeline doesn’t even want to try to explain its own concept and logic (and lack thereof) anymore. It’s now basically rebooted itself (once again), and takes off limping to the finish line. From a confusing (bold?) retcon, to an over arching theme with heavy social commentary, “Terminator: Dark Fate” incidentally makes an argument against its existence.

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Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

2009’s action horror comedy “Zombieland” is something of a cult classic, and while not exactly a masterpiece, it’s been admired in its own right for a decade. After many, many years, Columbia brings us a sequel that’s probably way too late. After fans demanded a sequel shortly after the release of the 2009 film, “Zombieland: Double Tap” finally graces us with the characters we love—and it does absolutely nothing new with them. It also doesn’t take us in to any kind of new area of Zombieland that we haven’t seen before, which ends in disappointing returns in a follow up with occasional bright spots.

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