Jim Erickson

Movie reviewer

Jim Erickson has been KMUW's film reviewer since 1974. He came to Wichita State University in 1964 from the University of Texas in Austin. He taught narrative in literature and film from 1966 until his retirement in 1997. His favorite film is Citizen Kane.

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The classic Charlton Heston movie Ben-Hur won eleven Academy Awards, and it might seem that a new version is little in demand. But the 1959 version was about four hours long, and the new Ben-Hur is about half that and, if not Oscar caliber, is a pretty good movie in its own right. And it cost $100 million to make. So even though it's somewhat faith-based in its story, it's well worth a look.

Florence Foster Jenkins is a couple of hours with people you like who are doing things that make you cheer them on.

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If all you want is a couple of hours of steady boom crash wham bam, "Suicide Squad" is the movie for you. However, boom crash wham bam is all you're going to get.

The plot is the same old Dirty Dozen schtick about the squad of death row criminals let loose to do a dirty job for the government, combined with the old bit about rescuing the hostages that are being held by the REALLY bad guys.

Nerve is a consistently entertaining thriller and a typical example of some of the dominant trends of current movie making.

Lights Out is an example of that rare and beautiful thing, a superior low-budget movie that depends for its effects on suggestions of things that lurk in the shadows and baffle the understanding, but never become clear enough to be understandable.

"The Infiltrator" ​shook me up enough that I dreamed that night about an undercover man who turns into a positive monster. Which is ironic, because Bryan Cranston is not personally corrupted by his years as an undercover man pursuing a Colombian drug cartel. 

It's hard to say much about Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates because it's basically just a number of funny scenes about a quartet of likeable frauds in a predictable story of social romantic intrigue that has nothing in mind but keeping you amused, at which it is very successful. Delicate people may be disturbed by its comic amorality and especially its language, but the whole thing is so silly and unbelievable that it pretty much wins you over.

Alexander Skarsgard's Tarzan in the new Legend of Tarzan has been living in London as a prominent citizen for along time, and even when he is sent to Africa on a government mission, he dresses and looks more like Stewart Granger than Johnny Weismuller.

Writer-director Gary Ross says the important part of his Free State of Jones, which takes place during the Civil War and Reconstruction, is about trying to restore the conditions of slavery. Ross says Hollywood never covers this, unless you count things like Gone with the Wind. Free State of Jones doesn't cover it either: Only about the last half hour is about it, and it's pretty sketchy coverage, with too many key events left out and only described in titles printed on the screen.

 Central Intelligence is less a story that it is a mere jumbling together of a bag of routines and conventions and cliches from other buddy thrillers, linked loosely together by little shreds and patches of dialogue scenes that suggest a central plot that may or may not hold together into a coherent story. But it has an irresistible spirit of Let's Have Fun and a delightfully charming star in Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, a magnificent giant of a man with a real gift for using his physique for comedy.

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