Nick Picks Flicks

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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.
Featuring Nick's film reviews, the East Valley Tribune serves the east suburbs of Phoenix, Ariz.

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

Nick's weekly film review column at

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, 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, 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, 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 staff writer. 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

Recent Reviews

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

See Tom Run ****

In an age where many blockbusters are mainly concerned with building cinematic universes and sounding important, it’s good to know that "Mission: Impossible" hasn’t lost track of what makes a great summer action movie.

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Does the new vacation stand on its own? **

John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein have written some funny movies such as "Horrible Bosses." In their feature film directorial debut, however, they basically go through the motions. They clearly have an admiration for the original classic and sometimes do an admirable job at paying homage to it, but they never figure out how to distinguish the new "Vacation."

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Futurama did it! ***1/2

There’s a reason why video game movies are usually dead on arrival. You rarely get the impression that anybody involved really cared about video games. Movies like “The Wizard” and “Super Mario Bros.” were basically just sellouts that wanted to cash in on Nintendo’s brand name. If Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” proved anything, though, it’s that making an awesome video game movie is possible when passionate storytellers are involved. “Pixels” is another movie that overflows with passion for video games and filmmaking too. Who would have thought such a creative and inspired picture would come from the likes of Adam Sandler.

Like a majority of video game movies, Sandler’s most recent comedies have all been severely lacking in effort. “Pixels” is easily his best mainstream film in years, complete with a funny script, inventive action sequences, and likable performances. Sandler plays Brenner, who was an arcade champion back in the 80’s. Three decades later, however, he’s a washed up tech guy who can’t comprehend modern games. His best friend since childhood is Will Cooper (Kevin James), who has somehow become president of the United States. That may sound far-fetched, but we have elected less qualified people to office.

When aliens intercept a time capsule containing images of video games, they mistake the footage for a declaration of war. Using their technology, the aliens pixelate various arcade icons into reality and invade the earth. Now humanity’s only hope is Brenner and his unparalleled gaming skills. This is basically the same plot as a certain “Futurama” episode, but fully realized.

Frogger, Donkey Kong, Q*bert, and various others make appearances throughout the film. “Pixels” doesn’t merely exploit the fact that the studio got the rights to these classic video game characters, though. The filmmakers come up with numerous clever ways to integrate them into thrilling action set pieces and moments of humor. There’s an adrenaline-pumping chase through New York involving Pac-Man that encompasses the spirit and strategy of the game on an epic scale.

More importantly, the human characters are all a delight too. Josh Gad gives another winning performance as Ludlow, an arcade wiz and conspiracy nut who believes JFK actually shot first. Peter Dinklage kills it as Eddie, an egoistical gamer who dreams of a three-way with Serena Williams and Martha Stewart. Michelle Monaghan, who easily could have been saddled with a straightforward love interest role, shines as a weapon developer that has a surprisingly charming chemistry with Sandler. Even Brian Cox gets a few good laughs as a clichéd military antagonist.

Chris Columbus, who wrote “Gremlins” and “The Goonies” before directing the first two “Home Alone” and “Harry Potter” pictures, was the perfect man to breathe life into this premise. His film is essentially a love letter to the 80’s, referencing retro music and TV shows in addition to video games. Most impressive of all, Columbus has really captured the wacky, yet smart, spirit of an 80’s summer movie like “Ghostbusters” or “The Last Starfighter.” Although it might not top those nostalgic classics, “Pixels” definitely deserves to be used in the same sentence.


The southpaw redemption ***

“Southpaw” is like two inspirational sports movies for the price of one. The protagonist not only needs to prove himself a better fighter, but a better father in the process too. The film doesn’t just want to be a tearjerker, though. It wants to beat the audience in the face with emotion until they cry. While “Southpaw” does have a lot of heaving hitting moments, the movie may have been a little stronger if it held back occasionally.

Jake Gyllenhaal gives another outstanding performance as Billy Hope, a light heavyweight champion who started from nothing. Now Billy has a perfect life with a perfect wife (Rachel McAdams) and a perfect daughter (Oona Laurence). There wouldn’t be a movie, however, if tragedy didn’t suddenly strike Billy. Blinded by ego and pride, he instigates a brawl with a rival boxer. A gun is fired and Billy’s wife is killed in the midst of the chaos. Turning to drugs and alcohol, Billy falls into a pit of despair and loses control of his finances. Soon enough, his mansion is taken away and his daughter is taken in by social services.

Director Antoine Fuqua of “Training Day” establishes once again that he’s not afraid to get gritty. Often utilizing close-ups, the audience feels every punch Billy takes both in and out of the ring. The most powerful punch to the gut is McAdams’ death early on, which captures a real sense of shock, sorrow, and hopelessness. For every scene in “Southpaw” that hits it out of the park, though, there’s a scene that comes off as kind of forced.

While it’s understandable that Billy would be distressed after the loss of his wife, some of his self-destructive actions feel less like natural behavior and more like screenplay requirements to prompt conflict. We also have to sit through a ton of cliché scenes, like the judge throwing the book at Billy and a motivating pep talk from Billy’s trainer (Forrest Whitaker). There’s even a pretty farfetched finale where Billy challenges the boxer who was semi-responsible for his wife’s death. Still, none of it’s as contrived or overblown as the low points of the “Rocky” sequels.

Although “Southpaw” is manipulative and overbearing at times, it’s an undeniable crowd-pleaser that will have you cheering for these people. The drama doesn’t always feel genuine, but the heart and depth that the actors bring to their performances do. Gyllenhaal, who’s gone through an incredible physical transformation since “Nightcrawler,” gives a fiercely dedicated portrayal of a broken man seeking redemption. We believe all of his relationships with those closest to him, from his wife, to his trainer, to his daughter. McAdams, Whitaker, and young Laurence all deliver equally authentic supporting work. The late James Horner’s musical score additionally hits just the right note throughout. The outcome is a close call, but the talent in front of and behind the camera gives “Southpaw” just enough fighting spirit to prevail.

Paper Towns

Life moves pretty fast ****

"Paper Towns" shows us that high school isn’t about the final destination, especially since you have your whole life ahead of you. It’s about the friendships you form, lessons you learn, and the risks you take on the unforgettable journey.

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Batkid Begins

It might be complicated if he wants to be Superman, though ****

"Batkid Begins" does an impeccable job at summing up the spirit of Miles’ incredible story. It’s corny, it’s lighthearted, and it’s impossible to walk away without being even a little bit inspired. It also demonstrates that the key component to making any dream come true, whether you wish to become a superhero for a day or get a movie off the ground, is effort.

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Irrational Man

How to get away with murder ***1/2

"Irrational Man" may not be a great Wooden Allen picture, but it an entertaining little footnote in his illustrious career.

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She's out of control! ****

In a summer that’s brought us several female-centric hits like "Pitch Perfect 2" and "Spy," "Trainwreck" just might be the best example of how women are dominating the comedy scene like never before.

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Second life's a charm ***1/2

“Self/less” echoes classic “Twilight Zone” episodes, “Total Recall” and especially John Frankenheimer’s “Seconds.” Its ideas and themes are familiar, but that’s every contemporary sci-fi thriller for you. What’s important is how the film goes about presenting these concepts in a new light. In the case of “Self/less,” Director Tarsem Singh has made an absorbing, well-structured entertainment that’s often a pleasure to watch unfold. 

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Terminator Genisys

Insert "I'm back" pun here **

Maybe with a talent like Joss Whedon behind the camera, the “Terminator” franchise might see the light of day again. As for “Terminator Genisys,” though, this is definitely the darkest timeline.

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