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
A+ 62% ANIARA (2019) Aniara watchers will be divided into exactly one of two camps: those who think that this bleak and mournful contemplation of life is nigh-perfect and those who are furious about having been tricked into watching a Swedish space orgy. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 16, 2019
B 80% Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) It uses modern special effects juju to make Stephen Gammell's illustrations from the 1980s come to life. Those raised on the books can now share the PTSD with their offspring, because nothing says family quite like "Oh God, get it away!" - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 9, 2019
D 79% Saving Mr. Banks (2013) Saving Mr. Banks is emotional manipulation intended to excuse the blackmail-based commodification of one woman's dream. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
B+ 94% Her (2013) Her wasn't as fantastically profound emotionally as the similarly toned Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It lopes a bit in the middle when you want it to run. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
D+ 55% Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) A good movie leaves you questioning previous notions. A series of cliches vaguely edited in the shape of a movie like Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit makes you question your previous decisions. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A- 91% The Great Beauty (2013) All things considered, you'd be hard pressed to find a more stunning, thoughtful, honest and stirring film than The Great Beauty. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
B+ 96% The LEGO Movie (2014) The Lego Movie is stupid fun to watch, hilarious in all the right ways and one of the most original animated blockbusters anyone has constructed in quite some time. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
C- 49% RoboCop (2014) Aside from the decision to relegate the insightful and challenging drone content to Jackson's sporadic monologues, the worst decision was to ixnay the satirical comedy of the original film. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
F 28% 3 Days To Kill (2014) My least favorite actor is back, and he's looking to make up for lost time in the "things that suck" department. And sweet tap-dancing Moses does 3 Days to Kill suck. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
B- 79% The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) Trim an hour of the repetitive smut and insert a cohesive thesis for DiCaprio's performance to rely on and maybe this would have earned all the praise it has received. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
B 44% 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) Elevated only by Green's gleefully demented performance, 300: Rise of an Empire, to its credit and its detriment, plays like a fun but needless extension of its predecessor. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
F 22% Need For Speed (2014) Presumably set in a world where humans never mentally evolved from an animal state, the movie features increasingly nonsensical behaviors by derpy morons whose ability to dress themselves is as impressive to us as their ability to defy physics with cars. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A 91% The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) To alter a phrase from Batman, who won't mind because he's not real, The Grand Budapest Hotel is the movie audiences deserve and the one Anderson needed. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A 76% Noah (2014) It takes all of five minutes for Noah to deliver a Dikembe Mutombo-like swat to expectations of Sunday school bible study. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A- 90% Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Actually, considering the character-based focus, reliance on a larger fictional world and jaw-dropping visuals, Winter Soldier feels like exactly what Marvel has made for generations: a truly great comic book. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
B+ 98% Ernest & Célestine (2014) Ernest & Celestine is pure childhood sweetness, with a visual motif that makes it feel like someone just finished sketching it in front of you. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
C 20% Transcendence (2014) At its best, Transcendence could have been the cyberpunk of William Gibson or the speculative fiction of Philip K Dick. Instead, it was like listening to someone who read Gibson and Dick try to seem smart by retelling their books to you. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A- 85% Under the Skin (2014) If a Supreme Court Justice can declare porn to be without definition but knowable on sight, so too can art fall into the same metric. I don't know why Under the Skin is exceptional art. I just know it is. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
D- 52% The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) Spider-man's new costume looks swell, and Emma Stone is charming. Those are the only two things about The Amazing Spider-man 2 I didn't hate with the fiery anger of a thousand exploding suns. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
B- 72% Neighbors (2014) The funniest part of watching Rogen play a man-child finally forced to grow up is realizing that he probably only has a few years left during which he can play an underachieving stoner before that character goes from comedic to tragic. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
B 76% Godzilla (2014) Repent! The end is nigh! For unto them shall come a lizard with a beer belly, barfing atomic breath and bringing despair and sadness to Heisenberg from "Breaking Bad!" - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A- 96% Ida (2014) Ida is permeated with such thick, dank sorrow that I began counting the number of times any character smiled. I had to open it up to "not explicitly frowning" before someone cracked the scoreboard. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
B 90% X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) X-Men: Days of Future Past sticks its fingers in its ears and yells "nananana I can't hear you" when it comes to preserving the continuity of a film series that has been drudging on for a mind-numbing 14 years now. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
D- 33% A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) It would be easier to shrug off writer/director/actor/egomaniac Seth McFarlane's blatant racism and misogyny if he was funny or had a point. Alas, he isn't and he doesn't. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A 90% Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow (2014) Edge of Tomorrow deserves praise and viewers. It is proof that calculated cynicism and recycled content aren't the only ways to deliver big-budget, mainstream entertainment. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A- 84% 22 Jump Street (2014) If there's a funnier comedy sequel than 22 Jump Street, it probably didn't suggest the studio should market an at-home children's shooting game with phalluses as the targets. So, 22 Jump Street wins. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A- 59% Ping Pong Summer (2014) There's no deeper meaning to be had here. Just a good time, plenty of laughs, tons of nostalgia for the 1980s and the birth of Radical Miracle, who is everything Napoleon Dynamite wishes he was. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A+ 60% The Signal (2014) The Signal isn't quirky, it's downright weird. Combining elements of Cronenbergian body horror, District 9's believable-ish setting and the feel of Chronicle, writer/director William Eubank leveraged a small budget to great effect (and effects). - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
B+ 91% Obvious Child (2014) Obvious Child is one of the most empathy-inducing, genuine films featuring a cast of women tackling a women's issue ever made. Period. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A- 95% Snowpiercer (2014) I'm not saying that the impoverished are going to grab axes and violently murder the wealthy elite. But I'm also not NOT saying that... - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A 96% We Are the Best! (2014) We Are the Best (Vi är bast) sports a cocksure swagger in its title alone, and rightfully so. It is a boisterous rejoinder to the usual simplistic, tame depiction of adolescent girls. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
B+ 91% Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014) The most important thing is this: although these Apes have ditched some of the trippier elements, they have retained the social awareness and have infused summer spectacle with humanistic moralizing. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A 91% Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) If Boyhood is a reminder of film's potential to be groundbreaking art, Guardians of the Galaxy is a testament to its capacity for inducing pure joy. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
D 35% The Giver (2014) This could have been an actual "young adult" film, letting preteens know that the conflicting waves of emotion they're about to receive are worth it. Instead, it's a movie where a holographic cameo by Taylor Swift isn't the worst part. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
C 43% Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014) Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is part entertaining cartoon noir, part violently fetishized relationship revenge fantasy. The first part is recommendable; the second part is vile. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A- 92% Frank (2014) However you find Frank, find him. He'll be the best weird friend you've met in a while. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
B 87% The Skeleton Twins (2014) Although wobbly in its construction, a character-centric dramedy with Wiig and Hader as said characters was never going to be anything other than pretty doggone good. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
B- 77% The Boxtrolls (2014) The Boxtrolls may be Laika's "worst" film so far, but it's still pretty good. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
C+ 76% Fury (2014) If you asked him, chances are Ayers would claim that the meat of the film, the last 40 minutes, was "set up" by the methodical pauses preceding it. He'd be wrong, but that's probably what he'd say. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A- 99% The Overnighters (2014) The big takeaway for me was how brutal the burden is for those who truly embrace the core conceits of the Christian faith and its insistence upon caring for any and all who need help, no matter the sins of their past. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
B+ 87% The Trip To Italy (2014) A movie this muted isn't designed to provoke a chair-throwing, exclamatory reaction so much as it is intended to be thoughtful and, for lack of a better term, "nice." And so it is. The Trip to Italy may well be the nicest movie of the year. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A+ 97% Boyhood (2014) Boyhood isn't a masterpiece because of its approach. It's a masterpiece because, in the space of one viewing, it redeemed an entire genre for me and made me feel specific emotions I haven't had since I was just a teenager. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
B- 100% The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2014) The result is a pleasing, if bloated and simplistic, experience destined to be overpraised because of its lauded creative team. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
A 98% The Babadook (2014) Filled with layers of rich meaning, two spectacular performances and whizz-inducing frights, Kent's The Babadook isn't a good horror movie; it's a great film. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
C 67% Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) "You're big and dumb!" shouts one. "You're small and dumb!" shouts the other. "Tiny penis!" they both shout! What fun we have! We're having fun, right?! - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 2, 2019
A 87% Gone Girl (2014) Warning to newly engaged couples: Do not see Gone Girl, a movie that makes marriage look like The Hunger Games with slightly more alleged sodomy. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 30, 2019
C+ 67% Lucy (2014) It is confidently dumb, defiantly moronic and a fine way to spend 90 minutes of time before doing something of value. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 30, 2019
B 87% John Wick (2014) Directed by long-time stuntmen David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, it is exactly the sort of movie you would expect from long-time stuntmen: brutal, close-up fighting, nearly nonstop gunplay and the slightest story legally allowed. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 30, 2019
C 24% Dracula Untold (2014) Like a mix between Braveheart and a literal bat-man, Transylvania's favorite son has been reformatted and given a plot full of the worst moments from The Lord of the Rings series. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 30, 2019
A 91% Dear White People (2014) Dear White People deploys a full arsenal of intellectual weaponry to talk about race and much more in a way most can't or won't. It is hilarious. It is brilliant. It is vital. And it's Simien's first outing. More please. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 30, 2019