Ryan Syrek

Ryan Syrek
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
Ryan Syrek has served as a film critic for The Reader in Omaha since 2002. He is now the contributing editor for the film section at that publication, and his reviews are also syndicated in the Boulder Weekly. Ryan has a weekly segment on KVNO 90.7 at 8:30 am on Wednesdays. He also participates in an annual "Movies vs Books" fundraising event for public libraries, serves on numerous academic panels about popular culture, and cowrote a chapter in African American Children in Early Childhood Education.

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
C 67% Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) The odds against replicating the chemistry-enhanced breeziness and clever nuggets of the first film kept them from attempting a follow-up for around a decade. But the bible says even Jesus will get a sequel, so here we are. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 18, 2019
D- 25% Gemini Man (2019) It cannot be stressed enough how much of this alleged action movie involves plane rides between locations and the phrase "I just need to talk to him." - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 11, 2019
F 68% Joker (2019) Watching an emaciated creeper do several "kooky underpants dances" is definitely somebody's idea of a good time. It is just not mine. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 4, 2019
A+ 97% Tigers Are Not Afraid (Vuelven) (2019) A Walt Disney fairy tale about El Chapo told through the language of Gabriel García Márquez and visually painted as if guided by Frida Kahlo's hand, Tigers Are Not Afraid is some kind of special. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 27, 2019
A- 84% Ad Astra (2019) Not quite as sophisticated as it thinks itself, the film is still a lurid, pensive argument that the only meaningful thing in the entire universe is our connection with each other. Also: rabid space monkeys! - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 20, 2019
B- 88% Hustlers (2019) In the spirit of Hustlers, please imagine a montage of a movie reviewer typing away, tormented by a thwarted masterpiece. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 13, 2019
A+ No Score Yet Out of Omaha (2019) Out of Omaha doesn't put a bow on things, mince words, or offer concrete solutions. It just dares everyone to look where most choose not to peek. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 9, 2019
D 63% It Chapter Two (2019) "It 2: At Least There's No Sewer Orgy" is a start-to-finish misfire, from its insensitive opening to an ending that would make Peter Jackson give the "wrap it up" signal. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 6, 2019
A 97% Before Midnight (2013) Before Midnight is quiet, shrewd and sparse. It is unassuming and unafraid to poke fun at its own sporadic pretentiousness. It is funny. It is heartwarming. It is heartbreaking. It is inspired. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B- 77% The Source Family (2013) It's hard not to be somewhat engrossed by Father Yod, even if the package presented is less enjoyable than it is textbook-designed, which is kind of funny given the bizarre and rebellious nature of the subject. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
A- 56% Man of Steel (2013) Man of Steel is admittedly missing humor and fun, consumed by the seriousness of producer Christopher Nolan's dark overtones and grey color palate. But the tone was a course correction, and the payoff is great. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
C- 66% World War Z (2013) World War Z is not the complete, absolute disaster tales of its production suggested may come to pass (what with an entirely reshot third act). But that's the limpest compliment that can be given. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B 86% Much Ado About Nothing (2013) The take-home message to this retold tale of social grace is this: talented wealthy people apparently stage fairly adorable Shakespearean recreations as a way to blow off steam. Not exactly a beer after a hard day's work, huh? - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
C 59% The Bling Ring (2013) Playing like the slow, dull sister of Spring Breakers, The Bling Ring exchanges neon decadence and teen sinning for vacant crimes of boredom. The take home message here isn't an indictment of modern celebu-worship so much as it is "eh, whatever." - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B+ 75% The East (2013) There are only two choices: either you love Brit Marling or you will love Brit Marling. The proof is The East. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
D- 51% White House Down (2013) The nicest thing that can be said about director Roland Emmerich's White House Down is that it is the second best Die Hard rip-off set in the Presidential estate released in the last four months. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
F 31% The Lone Ranger (2013) Good news, Washington Redskins! For one glorious weekend in the summer of 2013, your unapologetically racist franchise is not the most grotesque pop culture representation of Native Americans! - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B 75% Despicable Me 2 (2013) The best compliment you can give to Despicable Me 2 may also explain why it doesn't get a higher grade here: it's slight, mass-appealing fun. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
C+ 94% Stories We Tell (2013) Stories We Tell ditches the burger and fries and delivers nothing but vegetables. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B+ 72% Pacific Rim (2013) Does the thought of nearly mountain-sized Transformers wailing away on Godzilla's uglier stepsisters with rocket punches and wrist swords excite you or do you have no idea what most of the words in the first half of this question mean? - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
C+ 99% 20 Feet From Stardom (2013) It is a bit ironic that the film we could have seen is somewhere to the side of this one, probably no more than 20 feet away. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
D 13% R.I.P.D. (2013) Based on a comic book that literally had to be better, writers Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi and David Dobkin did director Robert Schwentke no favors, but Schwentke directed The Time Traveler's Wife, so he had it coming. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B- 44% Red 2 (2013) Watching talented folks like this have a genuinely good time is contagious, and given the late-summer tsunami of mediocrity we're swimming in, simply having reason to smile a bit feels like a decent victory. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B 50% Between Us (2013) Between Us is Edward Albee's classic play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" regifted in new wrapping paper. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
A 41% Only God Forgives (2013) Only God Forgives crackles with dense subtext. Even the karaoke, which seems like a joke at first, winds up playing like a prayer for absolution. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
C- 83% The Way Way Back (2013) The Way Way Back is way way unnecessary more than anything else. You could overflow every landfill in New Jersey, a state known for its connection to trash, with the number of literary and cinematic tributes to this particular brand of "coming of age." - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B- 71% The Wolverine (2013) The Wolverine being "pretty good" seems like a miracle. It isn't. But it's watchable, satisfying and a less harmful way to scratch your Jackman itch than his last few offerings. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
C+ 53% The To Do List (2013) The To Do List feels like the first draft of a classic comedy. But plot strands get away, situations are redundant, and the end result is a mixed bag of sexual empowerment and stupidity. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B 66% Elysium (2013) First things first: Jodie Foster is officially no longer a two-time Oscar winner. There's no way anyone can do what she just did in Elysium and get to keep golden bookends. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
C 47% We're The Millers (2013) If you've seen the trailers, you've seen a highlight reel of all We're the Millers has to offer, save for swollen prosthetic genitalia worn by a teenage actor from Chronicles of Narnia. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B 98% Blackfish (2013) Nothing says "family fun" like aquatic murder and animal mistreatment, right SeaWorld? - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
C 32% Kick-Ass 2 (2013) Kick-Ass was a clever sneer at "grim and gritty" superhero movies; Kick-Ass 2 really isn't much of anything. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
C- 91% The Spectacular Now (2013) The most startling thing about The Spectacular Now is that people seem to like it. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
A- 96% A Hijacking (2013) A Hijacking is one of those movies that must be recommended even if it's in a way that doesn't suggest that watching it will be much fun at all. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B+ 92% The Hunt (Jagten) (2013) The Hunt is not exactly date movie. In fact, unless you enjoy the feeling of simmering in a warm tub smothered with guilt gravy and stewing in awkward juice, things are going to get uncomfortable. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
A 89% The World's End (2013) Shaun of the Dead mocks zombie movies and is a hell of a zombie movie. Hot Fuzz picks on buddy cop movies and is a great buddy cop movie. The World's End ridicules apocalyptic invasion movies and serves as a great apocalyptic invasion movie. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
A 95% The Act Of Killing (2013) The Act of Killing is a brutal, unrelenting cinematic experience. It can't be reduced to one simple trope or theme and really can't even evoke one overriding, overarching emotion. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
A 78% Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013) Ain't Them Bodies Saints is sparse and slow. It's dusky palate and hazy, starcrossed-outlaw-fairy-tale mannerisms will come off as pretentious affectations to those not gripped by paralyzing emotional attachment. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B- 31% Austenland (2013) If Austenland is supposed to criticize obsessive fandom, the ending makes no sense. If it isn't, the rest of the film makes no sense. And yet, the light, airy, innocent nature of it all is somehow pleasing enough - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
F- 97% Mud (2013) This ain't the "magically tingly" kind of fairy tale. It's the "fundamentally flawed indication of where a culture is at" kind of fairy tale. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B 80% Prisoners (2013) Stuffed to the gills with child abduction, overmedicated depression and familial implosions, director Denis Villeneuve's bloated whodunit is a puppy suicide away from the most joyless way to spend well over two hours. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
A 96% Gravity (2013) Bullock's dizzyingly complex performance in a film that is as thrilling as it is culturally resonant makes Gravity something hella special. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
D 30% Machete Kills (2013) I "get" grind-schlock. This isn't that, this is someone doing a bad impression of that. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
C 93% Captain Phillips (2013) Sadly, thanks to the Dutch film A Hijacking, which "coincidentally" hit DVD this week, Captain Phillips isn't even the best "hijacked by Somali pirates" movie in the last 6 months. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
C- 36% The Fifth Estate (2013) You can't make a character study of a man with this many secrets and you can't make a thriller out of people typing. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
F 34% The Counselor (2013) The Counselor is a horrifying reminder that even the best of us are capable of bad, bad things. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
C 89% Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013) Kechiche totally dirts the whole thing through the objectifying male gaze he shoots through and in the bloated, completely indulgent three hour running time. Had he used the time to further unpack these complex characters, maybe it could be justified. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B 72% American Promise (2013) Unlike Waiting for Superman, the documentary isn't pointing fingers or offering solutions, which can feel frustrating. But it stands as the most heavily researched, thorough example of the education of black males by caring parents. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
C 61% Ender's Game (2013) Nothing much comes of any of this really, save for Card getting another chance to cling to relevance and advance his agenda of hate. So, maybe this was a bad idea. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
B+ 67% Thor: The Dark World (2013) Overall, the script may be sloppy and the tone may fluctuate but darn if Thor: The Dark World ain't the fantasy/sci-fi, slapstick, action-packed, bizarre romp you never knew you kinda wanted. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019