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Featuring Nick's film reviews, Flickreel is an online movie magazine specializing in video-based articles. It covers all the latest film news, reviews, previews and trailers, alongside features which take a deeper look into the world of film.

All the top 10 lists Nick has scripted for WatchMojo.com, the 7th largest YouTube channel in the world throughout 2014.

Story Monsters Ink is a free, subscription-based magazine that gives parents and educators the latest news about award-winning and debut books, profiles on both renowned and newly published authors, upcoming book events, author presentations and more.
The Nerd Repository: providing the latest movie, TV and pop culture news and reviews.
Featuring Nick's film reviews, the East Valley Tribune serves the east suburbs of Phoenix, Ariz.
Phoenix Film Critics Society: Representing Arizona's Premier Film Critics

Nick's film review column at Filmfestivaltoday.com.

A comic strip sadly inspired by the real life of Nick Spake.

Phoenix Children's Hospital's Camp Rainbow is for children who have, or have had cancer or a chronic blood disorder. Nick has acted as the camp's social media coordinator since 2014.
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About Nick Spake

At the age of fifteen, I launched NickPicksFlicks.com, a website dedicated to the art of film. Since then, I have worked as a published film critic for Arizona State Press, Ahwatukee Foothills News, Nerd Repository, Film Festival Today, Arizona Filmmaker Magazine, and East Valley Tribune. Entertainment writing has also given me the opportunity to interview several big name celebrities, including Emma Stone, Chris Evans, J.J. Abrams, Emma Roberts, and various others. My life hit a roadblock in 2013 when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, but I refused to let having cancer prevent me from writing film reviews and finishing college with a 4.0 GPA. In May 2013, I graduated from Arizona State University, achieving a BA in Theatre and a minor in communications. Teaching me just how precious life is, my disease further influenced me to reach out to others through my writing. Today, I'm happy to say that I am currently cancer free. As of September 2014, I have worked as a freelancer writer for WatchMojo.com, which recently surpassed 6 million subscribers on YouTube. This video content site has acted as a creative outlet for me to write top ten lists about movies, television, video games, and pretty much everything else. Out of the hundred scripts I've contributed to them so far, I'm primarily proud of the Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time, Another Top 10 Super Bowl Commercials, and Top 10 Worst Movies of 2014. In 2015, I joined the Flickreel family as a a critic and columnist. I'm overjoyed to be on the team and can't wait to bring you all more movie reviews.

Rating Scale

5 Stars= It's Simply the Best

4 Stars= Totally Rocks

3 Stars= Rad

2 Stars= Bad

1 Star= Terrible 

Zero= Totally Sucks

Recent Blog Entries

Last Flag Flying

Let's get the old unit back together ****

“Last Flag Flying” is kind of like “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” meets “The Best Years of Our Lives.” That’s definitely an odd combination and there are times when Richard Linklater’s film runs the risk of being uneven. Thanks to his capable direction, a sharp script co-written by author Darryl Ponicsan, and three strong leads, though, everything balances out. Well, maybe not everything. We do get a few scenes that drag on for too long. Given how this movie could’ve misfired in so many different ways, however, it’s impressive that it manages to juggle comedy, drama, and patriotism at all.


The film is actually based on a novel by Ponicsan, which was actually a sequel to “The Last Detail,” which was actually adapted to the screen in 1973 with Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, and Otis Young. The aforementioned trio of actors is nowhere to be in this unofficial follow-up of sorts, but their replacements light up the screen with chemistry. Steve Carell gives his most subdued performance since “Foxcatcher” as Larry “Doc” Shepherd. Bryan Cranston steals the film’s best lines as Sal Nealon while Laurence Fishburne is a pitch perfect straight man as Richard Mueller.


These men served together during Vietnam, but haven’t seen each other since then. In 2003, Doc looks up his unit after his son dies in Iraq. Sal and Richard agree to help their old friend through the ordeal, but sign on for more than they bargained for. Upon learning exactly how his son was killed, Doc decides that he doesn’t want him to have a military funeral. He’d rather burry him at home, meaning Sal and Richard must come along for the long haul.


At the beginning of “Last Flag Flying,” the characters might be complete strangers to the audience. As the narrative unfolds, though, the film starts to feel like reuniting with some good buddies. We really come to like each of these men, as if we’ve known them for years. This has a lot to do with the impeccable rapport between the actors, who work off each other wonderfully. Their dynamic ranges from hilarious to poignant and there’s never a second when you doubt their bond. Even if the story is light on plot, just listening to Doc, Sal, and Richard for two hours is interesting enough.


What prevents “Last Flag Flying” from being a truly great film about veterans is a killjoy colonel played by Yul Vazquez. This character is determined to give Doc’s son a military funeral, as if he’s property of the U.S. government. While not everyone in the military is perfect, this guy just sends the wrong message in a picture that otherwise avoids cheap shots and caricatures. His character arc doesn’t even have a real payoff and could’ve been removed altogether. Nevertheless, that’s just one bump in the road for a film that mostly does our troops justice.

Murder on the Orient Express

Spoiler Alter: Someone dies ***1/2

When it was announced that Kenneth Branagh was adapting “Murder on the Orient Express” for modern audiences, it was hard not to think of when Gus Van Sant remade Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” Outside of their craft and performances, both of these murder mysteries stand out thanks to their killer twist endings. So if you’ve already seen the 1974 version of “Murder on the Orient Express,” this new one isn’t exactly going to take you by surprise. Of course with “Psycho,” virtually everyone has seen it and even those who hadn’t knew how the film ends. “Murder on the Orient Express,” on the other hand, has perhaps slipped through the cracks for some, especially younger viewers. On that basis, Branagh’s interpretation is a worthy remake and a solid introduction for those unfamiliar with the classic Agatha Christie tale.

 

The title alone pretty much spells out the setup. Branagh plays Hercule Poirot, who you can tell is a master detective based on his mustache alone. While traveling on the Orient Express, Poirot crosses paths with a fellow passenger named Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp), who believes his life is on the line. Ratchett is right, as he winds up dead the next morning with twelve stab wounds. When an avalanche literally stops the train dead in its tracks, Poirot conducts an investigation in which every passenger is a suspect.

 

The original film featured an all-star cast that included Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins, and Ingrid Bergman in her Oscar-winning role. This version brings together an equally impressive ensemble with the likes of Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad, and Michelle Pfeiffer, just to name a few. They all fit comfortably into their parts and never feel out of place in the film’s 1930s setting. Branagh in particular manages to be as dignified as Sherlock Holmes while also being as over-the-top as Adrian Monk. It might sound blasphemous, but I actually prefer his portrayal over Albert Finney’s, which always felt a little too close to Inspector Clouseau.

 

Branagh deserves just as much credit for his work behind the camera. Although much of the film is limited to a confined area, Branagh keeps things interesting with inventive camera angles. The cinematography never becomes gimmicky or distracting like in a Guy Ritchie movie, though. The art direction, costumes, and musical score additionally make for an extremely well crafted picture. Even some of the CGI imagery and green screen effects, while sometimes obvious, are still executed with a fair deal of class.

 

All in all, everything that worked about 1974’s “Murder on the Orient Express” works here. That being said, not everything about the original film was perfect. Both versions suffer from pacing issues, especially in the sluggish middle. There’s also one too many characters to keep track of, even for a film that almost runs for two hours. You could argue that these problems stem from the 1934 novel that started it all. As far as Agatha Christie’s works go, I’d personally take “And Then There Were None” over “Murder on the Orient Express” any day. Nevertheless, the story does have its merits and Branagh’s take more than does them justice.


Lady Bird

Yep, just you and me, Lady Bird ****

It’s amazing how oversaturated this genre has become since the days of John Hughes, but the talent both behind and in front of the camera somehow manages to keep these familiar themes fresh. "Lady Bird" in particular is really nothing new when you break down its plot. The way its story and characters are presented, however, makes for an utterly unique experience.

Read more at Flickreel:

https://www.flickreel.com/why-lady-bird-is-a-coming-of-age-gem/

Thank You For Your Service

Perfectly serviceable ***1/2

The film is well acted, well made, and does an authentic job at conveying the veteran mindset. You can tell Hall was 100% committed to doing this material justice and that commitment ultimately shines through.

Read more at Flickreel:

https://www.flickreel.com/thank-you-for-your-service-review/

Geostorm

Twenty years too late **

"Geostorm" feels like one of those disaster flicks from twenty years ago. It’s big, it’s loud, and, above all else, it’s dated.

Read more at Flickreel:

https://www.flickreel.com/geostorm-review/