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CrAiGeR's REVIEW ARCHIVES

All of CrAiGeR's full-length reviews of contemporary films since Jan 2004

 

 

CrAiGeR's FOUR STAR REVIEWS

Listing of every FOUR STAR review that CrAiGeR has ever written (excludes retro-reviews)

 

 

CrAiGeR's WORST REVIEWS

Listing of every one and a half star or lower review that CrAiGeR has ever written

 

 

CrAiGeR's RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW ARCHIVES

CrAiGeR revisits classic films from

the past

 

 

CrAiGeR's YEARLY BEST/WORST LISTS

CrAiGeR dishes out his TEN BEST and TEN WORST films for every year since 2000

 

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN MOST OVER-RATED FILMS OF ALL-TIME

CrAiGeR unleashes his list of ten films that he felt did not deserve universal fan accolades and critical praise.

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN MOST INFLUENTIAL FILMS OF THE LAST 25 YEARS 

CrAiGeR ruminates on ten films he feels most directly influenced the business and making of movies since 1986.

 

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 2000's

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1990's

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1980's

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1970's

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1960's

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1950's

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1940's

 

 

 

 

 

 

ADRIFT  (PG-13) jjj

All is lost...redux

ADRIFT is a new fact based outdoor survival thriller that's cross morphed with a romance drama, which immediately doesn't sound particularly enticing on paper.  Yet, it tells the harrowing true story of Tami Oldman, whom in September of 1983 sailed into a rather powerful hurricane in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and came out of it alive with a severely damaged boat, very little water and rations and no radio support...

Posted June 12, 2018

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

(R) jjjj

You talkin' to me?

Very few vigilante thrillers are as unnervingly suspenseful, uncompromisingly bleak, and thoroughly disturbing as Lynne Ramsay's YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE, which is as brutally punishing to endure in its swift and refreshingly economical running time of 90-plus-minutes as any I've seen.  I mean that last part as a sincere compliment.  Based on the book of the same name by Jonathan Ames, Ramsay's film bares a superficial comparison to Martin Scorsese's TAXI DRIVER...

Posted June 12, 2018

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY

(PG-13) jj

I got a very bad feeling about this...

I knew that SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY was going to be creatively lethargic and uninspired within my first 60 seconds of watching it.  During that time viewers are introduced to three stanzas worth of exposition heavy title cards that are kind of blandly and lazily thrown up on screen.  Now, one of the most iconic and memorable images of the entire STAR WARS franchise is the sight of the film's opening title cards migrating up the screen...

Posted June 3, 2018

WINCHESTER  (PG-13) jj

Guns and ghosts 

 

WINCHESTER is a new historical horror thriller that's set in an infamous haunted mansion in 1906 San Jose, just before the Great Earthquake that ravaged during the same year.  The residence - located at 525 South Winchester Blvd - was renown for its massive size and multiple architectural abnormalities.  It was also home to Sarah Winchester, the heiress to the Winchester Rifle empire and fortune...

 

Posted June 3, 2018

DARK CRIMES  (R) j

An unpleasantly bleak thriller

DARK CRIMES is one of the most repellently depressing films that I've seen in recent memory, a would-be intoxicating murder-mystery thriller that's made all the more unsettling because of its dicey subject matter handling and because it represents a return to the silver screen by Jim Carrey, his first film as a lead since starring in DUMB AND DUMBER TO...

Posted June 3, 2018

DEADPOOL 2  (R) jjj

Maximum sequel effort

The first DEADPOOL movie gleefully - and sometimes sadistically - turned comic book film genre conventions and troupes upside on their heads.  Ryan Reynolds' fourth wall breaking "merc with the mouth" was just the right kind of self-referential jolt to the heart that super hero films needed, and the relatively cheap $58 million 2016 outing featured three jokes per minute pacing in showcasing this unique titular character's highly subversive wit and edge...

Posted May 25, 2018

REVENGE (R) jjj1/2

Best served cold

I usually don't really enjoy the subgenre of rape revenge thrillers, mostly because they seem more heavily bent towards sensationalism and less towards true feminine empowerment.  There is something to be said about the longstanding legacy (and not a particularly honorable one) of exploitation films that have painted their female characters as one note sex objects or, worse yet, one dimensional victims...

Posted May 25, 2018

CHAPPAQUIDDICK (R) jjj

The man who would never be President

Controversy has forever dogged Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy up until his death in 2009, ostensibly stemming from the "Chappaquiddick Incident," which the new historical drama CHAPPAQUIDDICK takes its name.  Back in the early morning hours of July 18, 1969 the then 37-year-old Kennedy was driving around with 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne when he suddenly careened his vehicle off the road on Chappaquiddick Island...

Posted May 25, 2018

TULLY (R) jjj

How the better half lives

Being a mother is a wonderful, life altering responsibility.  It's also tortuously difficult and can push the best of women to the point of complete physical and mental implosion. I've seen so many countless films in my days about what it means to be a life giver, but so very few unflinchingly capture the worst aspects of being one in quite the same manner as Jason Reitman's TULLY, which delves into the whirlwind of contradictions that typifies the modern parental experience...

Posted May 16, 2018

THE MIRACLE SEASON (PG) jj1/2 

An unhealthy serving of fact based sports film clichés

There's a part of me that feels awfully bad reviewing and being critical of a film like THE MIRACLE SEASON, seeing as it has awfully noble minded intentions and is a fact based sports drama that's steeped in personal tragedy.  The film takes its true story narrative from the unbelievable winning streak of the Iowa City West High School girl's volleyball team - the West High Trojans - that back in 2011 persevered after the death of their star player to go on an win their second state championship in a row...

Posted May 16, 2018

FIFTY SHADES FREED (R) j1/2

Free at last...free at last...thank God Almighty...

There are two reasons why I think FIFTY SHADES FREED is the best entry in the trilogy of films based on the inexplicably popular series of novels by E.L. James.  Seriously...hear me out.  Firstly, it's the most mercifully short entry in this soft core drama franchise, which is a major victory for all of those in attendance that will be anxiously staring at the cinema exit sign while screening it...

Posted May 16, 2018

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR

(PG-13) jjj

Running the gauntlet

If anyone would have told me ten years ago that a super hero film featuring a B to C grade level Marvel Comics character starring a then career-in-trouble Robert Downey Jr. and directed by the man who made ELF would be a box office and critical darling and launch one of the most financially lucrative and respected franchises in motion picture history...I would have incredulously laughed in your face...

Posted May 7, 2018

FOREVER MY GIRL

(PG-13)  j1/2

Possession is not a good thing

FOREVER MY GIRL is a walking cliché factory that's a nearly unendurable watch checking bore simply by how utterly predictable the narrative becomes with each waking moment.  Based on the Heidi McLaughlin novel, the film seems like it's cherry picking the worst elements of the most forgettable Nicholas Sparks film adaptations and gathering them together to make something so dramatically bland and lifeless that I had to constantly remind myself during my screening that I had to care about what was going on...

Posted May 7, 2018

SUPER TROOPERS 2 (R) jjj

More high speed...shenanigans

Comedy sequels are a very tricky business, especially when they come several years after a cherished one that became a cult hit, leaving the makers with the dubious creative task of trying to rekindle the first entry's lighting in a bottle essence.  When the original SUPER TROOPERS opened way, way back in 2001 - one of the earliest feature films from the comedy troupe Broken Lizard - it never emerged as a major box office smash...

Posted April 29, 2018

BORG VS. McENROE (R) jjj1/2

Dawn of tennis justice

 

Everyone that's familiar with the history of professional sports and tennis will undoubtedly remember the outcome of the 1980 Wimbledon Championships, which featured then four-time singles champ, the Swedish born Bjorn Borg (the number 1 player in the world at the time), facing off against the up and coming John McEnroe in hopes of attaining an unheard of fifth consecutive  title.  The new sports drama BORG VS. McENROE takes its name from that iconic battle of tennis heavyweights, often considered one of the greatest matches in the sport's history...

 

Posted April 29, 2018

ISLES OF DOGS (PG-13) jjj1/2

Woof!

After finally watching Wes Anderson’s ISLE OF DOGS last night I’ve concluded that I’ll take his esoteric brand of joyously idiosyncratic stop motion weirdness over any clean and polished Pixar or Disney animated film any day of the week and twice on SundayThis is the second stop motion animated film from the 48-year-old auteur (after 2009's FANTASTIC MR. FOX), and it proudly and masterfully represents yet another wondrously bizarre and visually magnificent hodgepodge...

Posted April 23, 2018

RAMPAGE (PG-13) jj

Can ya smell what the mutated ape is cookin'? 

It's perhaps a highly fitting thing that the new sci-fi action thriller RAMPAGE is utterly brainless, seeing as it's ever-so-loosely based on a mid-1980's video game series of the same name that involved massive monsters decimating cities in the most basic button mashing form.  Sacrasm aside, the film certainly coasts by on the sizable charisma and star presence of Dwayne Johnson...

Posted April 23, 2018

A QUIET PLACE (PG-13) jjj1/2

Silent Movie

Something very special happened to me during my screening of the new sci-fi horror thriller A QUIET PLACE. For the first time in my twelve years as a film critic I was able to watch a movie in a jam packed cinema with an audience that remained virtually silent throughout its running time.  That's a large part of the ethereal power of director John Krasinski's mercilessly eerie and uniquely potent film...

Posted April 16, 2018

BLOCKERS (R) jjj

A teen sex comedy that's cock of the walk

Based on the one trailer that I saw for BLOCKERS beforehand, I had absolutely zero desire to screen this film.  On a pure surface level, this teen sex comedy delves into material that's been so overdone and has become pretty stale for the genre over the years - a group of ultra horny high school students desperately try to become adults and lose their virginity during prom night...

Posted April 16, 2018

PROUD MARY (R) j1/2  

Nothing to be boastful of here

PROUD MARY pulls an annoying game of bait and switch with audiences that's tipped off as early as its opening credit sequence.  This introductory montage has the look, sound, and feel of a 1970's exploitation film, which initially had me hooked.  Unfortunately, and within a few minutes into the film, it becomes abundantly clear that PROUD MARY is neither set in the 70's, nor does it cheekily embrace its blaxploitation roots...

Posted April 16, 2018

READY PLAYER ONE

(PG-13) jj1/2  

Would you like to play a game?

Steven Spielberg's READY PLAYER ONE - adapted from the popular 2011 novel of the same name by Ernest Cline - often feels like a video game with gloriously and beautifully rendered cut scenes that regrettably has somewhat lackluster gameplay.  For the uninitiated, it may feel like an odd analogy to use video games to describe a movie, but READY PLAYER ONE - both in silver screen and book antecedent form - is a massive homage filled love letter to both the games and cinema of 1980's...

Posted April 6, 2018

THOROUGHBREDS (R) jjj1/2

A pure bred black comedy/thriller

Cory Finley's ultra black comedy thriller THOROUGHBREDS is about entitled women of wealth and privilege that are so bored and lacking in empathy towards other people around them that they begin to harbor murderous thoughts.  The playwright turned director has crafted a debut film that feels like a play in terms of structure, tone, and pacing, not to mention that he allows dialogue to propel scenes forward from one intriguing moment to the next...

Posted April 6, 2018

PACIFIC RIM UPRISING

(PG-13) j1/2  

It's time to to cancel the apocalypse

PACIFIC RIM UPRISING is a wholly unnecessary and carelessly unimaginative sequel to the Guillermo del Toro 2013 directed post apocalyptic sci-fi thriller involving giant man piloted robots that battle even larger monsters to ensure the protection and survival of the human race.  I thought that the first film in this series embraced the lunacy of its wacky premise while regrettably taking it all a bit too seriously...

Posted March 31, 2018

UNSANE (R) jjj1/2

iNSANE

I’m not sure what’s more fascinating and amazing about UNSANE: (1) That a veteran A-list Oscar winning filmmaker like Steven Soderbergh - fresh out of self-imposed retirement - shot this film using nothing but an iPhone or (2) that - in spite of 1 - his film still packs a potent visceral punch as a psychological thriller that also has his esoteric fingerprints all over it.  Once again, as he normally does, Soderbergh commits triple duties here as director, director of photography, and editor...

Posted March 31, 2018

TOMB RAIDER

(PG-13) jjj1/2

Run, Lara, Run!

 

I think it’s important for film critics to use relative benchmarks when rating films and not universal ones.  For example, when I give JOHN WICK a 4 star rating I'm not implying that it's as good as, say, a 4 star rated drama like CITIZEN KANE; rather, that Keanu Reeves flick was a 4 star action thriller...

 

Posted March 23, 2018

LOVE, SIMON (PG-13) jjj1/2

A love story for everyone

I've been noticing that an awful lot of filmgoers and critics have been comparing the new high school/coming of age comedy LOVE, SIMON to the films of John Hughes.  I find such analogies to be somewhat odd and illogical.  The film - based on Becky Albertalli's SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA - is just as shrewdly written, well acted, and crowd pleasingly funny as the best of the Hughes' body of work, but, last I checked, the late director's most iconic adolescent themed films never had homosexual protagonists...

Posted March 23, 2018

A WRINKLE IN TIME (PG) jj

Lost in space

Disney's latest live action fantasy A WRINKLE IN TIME - alongside recent examples from the studio like TOMORROWLAND and THE BFG - is yet another example of a high concept effort that gets severely undermined by a lackluster overall execution.  Based on an apparently unfilmable 1962 novel of the same name by Madeleine L'Engle (unread by me)...

Posted March 17, 2018

DEATH WISH (R)  zero stars

A remake that aims very low 

 

Eli Roth’s DEATH WISH - a remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson starring original - is not only an incredibly ill timed and wholly unnecessary movie, but it's also a numbingly sleazy one as well.  It’s sleazy for wanting to have thoughtful commentary about guns, gun violence, and vigilante justice, but only ends up celebrating its “hero’s” carnage and making him “cool."   To drive the latter point home, he's showcased in nifty montages that have AC/DC blaring on the soundtrack for added shallow effect...

 

Posted March 17, 2018

RED SPARROW (R) jjj

Two Lawrences for the price of one

As far as Cold War themed espionage thrillers go, RED SPARROW is perhaps more grippingly atmospheric, sexual graphic, shockingly and sadistically violent, and sinisterly plotted than just about any other of its kind that I've seen.  This Russian spy game genre effort will draw obvious comparisons to last year's sensational ATOMIC BLONDE, which was based on a graphic novel and celebrated its wanton neon colored Regan era trashiness like a badge of honor...

Posted March 12, 2018

MUTE 

(No MPAA Rating) j1/2  

Then we take Berlin

 

Very few filmmakers have come dashing out of the gate with as much confidence and creativity in their first two films than Duncan Jones.  His 2009 ultra low budget sci-fi thriller MOON marked an audacious beginning for his career, and he subsequently followed that up with 2011's trippy mind bending time traveler themed SOURCE CODE, which I thought was even better than his debut effort...

 

Posted March 12, 2018

ANNIHILATION (R) jjj

Thoughtful sci-fi isn't extinct

 

In a relative age when compelling speculative science fiction is an increasingly rare commodity at the cinemas, I wholeheartedly welcome in open arms genre efforts like ANNIHILATION, which is another thematically strong and viscerally immersive sci-fi film from writer/director Alex Garland, whom previously made a large splash with his superlative Oscar winning directorial debut in EX MACHINA and, before that, made a niche for himself penning SUNSHINE and 28 DAYS LATER. ...

 

Posted March 6, 2018

EARLY MAN (PG) jjj1/2

GOOOOOOOAAAAAAL!!!

The opening section of EARLY MAN - the latest Aardman animation studio produced and Nick Park directed stop motion film - is as spectacularly silly as any I've seen as of late.  It shows the extinction event that wiped dinosaurs off of the planet and how, via that event, mankind discovered a love of soccer.  Wait...what?!  Not joking...

Posted March 6, 2018

GAME NIGHT (R) jjj1/2

Not your typical get-together

I love having game nights myself. I play a mean game of Pictionary, and usually get very caught up in the singular pleasure of getting a teammate to properly guess what I'm drawing, especially when it's more obscure.  I do, however, remember vividly when I was given a "cyclops" to draw, and seeing as a minored in Fine Art in university I thought that this would be a slam dunk.  I mean, who doesn't know what a cyclops is...

Posted March 6, 2018

BLACK PANTHER 

(PG-13) jjj1/2

WAKANDA FOREVER!!!

BLACK PANTHER is certainly not the first major Hollywood studio super hero film featuring a black lead character (that honor goes to 1998's BLADE, which also spawned a trilogy and helped usher in the notion that Marvel Comics based silver screen outings could be popular and profitable)...

Posted February 24, 2018

THE 15:17 TO PARIS (PG-13) j1/2

A sluggish dramatic train to nowhere

No word of a lie, but at around the 45 minute mark of my screening of Clint Eastwood’s THE I5:17 TO PARIS I turned to my friend and depressingly said, “This movie feels like THE ROOM, but with a vastly larger budget and an Oscar winning director at the helm.”  That's ultimately telling and sad, seeing that I had no idea that an 87-year-old industry veteran that has directed films for a better part of five decades was capable of making something as soul crushingly dull and frequently amateurish such as this...

Posted February 24, 2018

THE POLKA KING

(No MPAA Rating) jjj

The greatest scandal...in polka history

The new Netflix comedy THE POLKA KING tells a fact based narrative about a Polish American polka band leader named Jan Lewan, whom during the 1990's was driven by the power of attaining the American Dream, albeit via deplorably unethical and illegal ways.  Now, the premise of a polka singer, beloved by many in his tight fanbase and inner circle, actually becoming a lecherous crook because he simply couldn't help himself is material that seems ripe for comedic exploration...

Posted February 19, 2018

PHANTOM THREAD (R) jjjj

PTA's finely tailored period romance

It may sound beyond strange to say this, but Paul Thomas Anderson is one of my favorite directors that has made a fair number of films that I have not liked...at least as much as other have.  When he burst onto the movie scene in the 90s with films like HARD EIGHT and especially BOOGIE NIGHTS (still his best film) and MAGNOLIA (his second best), I honestly thought we were witnessing the birth and growth of one of the most singularly talented American directors in some time.  Then came strange experimental pictures...

Posted February 19, 2018

THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX

(No MPAA Rating) jj

A mystery box not worth opening

Looking back on the first CLOVERFIELD film from 2008 and it's hard to overstate, in retrospect, what a masterpiece it was in terms of movie and viral marketing.  The J.J. Abrams produced and Matt Reeves directed monster invasion thriller was advertised with cryptic and compellingly vague trailers (the first of which didn't even attach a title to the preview).  Then came 2016's superb sort-of-sequel, sort-of-not-a-sequel 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE...

Posted February 14, 2018

DEN OF THIEVES (R) jjj

In the 'HEAT' of the night

I'm typically a real sucker for crime/heist films, even ones as blatantly derivative as DEN OF THIEVES, which appropriates the look, tone, feel, and story arcs of Michael Mann's 1995 masterpiece HEAT.  As I walked out of my screening of it I thought that there's a reasonable claim to be made that this latest cops and crooks action thriller is a pretty copy and paste remake of Mann's iconic film in multiple respects...

Posted February 14, 2018

THE SHAPE OF WATER (R) jj1/2

Beauty and the aquatic beast

I'll begin my review of the new period fantasy THE SHAPE OF WATER by saying this:  Writer/director Guillermo del Toro is a supreme cinematic visualist whose passionate enthusiasm shines through in all of his films.  The Mexican filmmaker has carved out a career of helming one arresting film after another on a level of pure escapist imagery, whether it be BLADE II,  HELLBOY I and II, his Oscar winning PAN'S LABYRINTH, and PACIFIC RIM, and in all of those films the level of innovative and loving craftsmanship on display...

Posted February 14, 2018

MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE

(PG-13) jjj

A pretty WCKD trilogy closer

As far as the very overcrowded and mostly mediocre young adult literary adaptation genre goes, I certainly thought that 2014's THE MAZE RUNNER - adapted from the dystopian sci-fi book series by James Dashner - was a most promising start to an intriguing new film franchise.  That well oiled and consummately directed trilogy opener did a stellar job of harnessing its LORD OF THE FLIES themed narrative about a group of lost boys struggling to escape their mysterious imprisonment through a bafflingly complex labyrinth...

Posted February 5, 2018

I, TONYA  (R) jjjj

A cutting edge biopic

Tonya Harding became a media punching bag over twenty years ago.  She's infamously more well known for being linked to an attack - perpetrated by her then husband and his accomplices - against fellow figure skating competitor Nancy Kerrigan, which occurred just before the 1994 Olympics.  Even though - by her own claims - she was not directly responsible for the attack, she nevertheless had intimate links to those that were and the ensuing scandal rocked the athletic world...

Posted February 5, 2018

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

(R) jjj

Summer's rapture

It would be deceptively easy to label Luca Guadagnino's CALL ME BY YOUR NAME - adapted from the novel of the same name by Andre Aciman - as a gay love story. Yes, the early 1980's set period drama does indeed contain a central romance between two young men, but the pair never once refer to themselves as homosexual...

Posted February 5, 2018

12 STRONG (R) jj1/2

AMERICA...F--K YEAH!!!

To quote its full title, 12 STRONG: THE DECLASSIFIED TRUE STORY OF THE HORSE SOLDIERS is the latest 9/11 themed war drama that contains an utterly fascinating fact based storyline that never comes compellingly alive the way it wants to.  Based on Don Stanton's non-fiction book THE HORSE SOLDIERS (a better title than the film's), 12 STRONG deals with a previously unknown military triumph that the U.S. had in Afghanistan in direct response to 9/11...

Posted February 1, 2018

HOSTILES (R) jjjj

A trail of tears

 

Writer/director Scott Cooper specializes in films that create a remarkable evocation of time and place while grounding them with characters that have an authentically lived-in weight about them.  You gain the sense that life's hardships have weighed heavily on their souls to the point where spiritual redemption seems unlikely...

 

Posted February 1, 2018

As I proudly do every year, here's a list of TEN REASONS why you should have enthusiastically rushed out to the cinema in the year that was, followed by a detailed listing of every 2017 film that I enjoyed in one form or another.

  

Posted January 25, 2018 / Revised February 5, 2018

THE POST (PG-13) jjjj

The fight for a free press

 

The new historical political thriller THE POST deals with the true story of how the journalists of The Washington Post and New York Times published the Pentagon Papers, classified documents that dealt with previously undisclosed information about U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War as far back as the Truman administration.  The papers revealed that the government systematically lied to both Congress and the American people about enlarging the war effort in Vietnam, even though they realized it was a losing effort at best...

 

Posted January 20, 2018

THE COMMUTER (PG-13) jj1/2 

NON-STOP: PART 2

Every year around this time we get yet another entry in the Liam Neeson takes names and kicks ass action thriller genre, which joyously celebrates the sixtysomething actor giving another thanklessly grounded and committed performance that's centered in an overall narrative that ridiculously - in not entertainingly - flips the bird to earth bound logic.  I'll be the first to admit that I've largely been an apologist of these films...

Posted January 20, 2018

As I bravely do every year, here's a list of TEN REASONS why you should have avoided cinemas like the plague in the year that was, followed by a detailed listing of every 2017 film that disappointed me in one form or another.

  Posted January 13, 2018

MOLLY'S GAME (R) jjjj

Sorkin and Chastain are all in

The timing of MOLLY'S GAME could not have been any better, seeing as this reality based crime drama has been released in a post-Harvey Weinstein Hollywood and contains a story of a fiercely savvy and indomitable career minded woman that - through self-empowerment and gritty determination - becomes a success by having huge power over powerful men...and men that once had power over her...

Posted January 13, 2018

MOLLY'S GAME (R) jj1/2

Rich premise, poor execution

My main issue with Ridley Scott's new fact based crime thriller ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD is that the late breaking story behind the scenes of the making of his film has not only overshadowed it...but it's also more compelling than the final product itself.  Of course, I'm referring to the fact that as the film was nearing release Scott decided to recast Kevin Spacey in one of its more crucial roles...

Posted January 13, 2018

DOWNSIZING (R) jj1/2

Big ideas, small returns

DOWNSIZING represents an absolutely compelling change of pace for Nebraska born and raised writer/director Alexander Payne, whom up until this point in his career has made charmingly idiosyncratic dramedies of a decidedly modest scale (he made one of the best high school comedies of all time in 1999's ELECTION, followed that up with memorably strong observational pieces like SIDEWAYS and THE DESCENDANTS, and recently made the sublime NEBRASKA in 2013)...

Posted January 7, 2018

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

(PG-13) jj

There's a sucker born every minute

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN is, as far as musicals and biopics go, so trivially soft pedaled and rose covered that it almost feels like the movie screen that it was projected on was sprayed with disinfectant.  Engineered for maximum crowd pleasing entertainment value while wholeheartedly ignoring some of the sketchier aspects of its subject matter's life and legacy, the film comes off more as a saccharine TV movie of the week than it does a sprawling and epically staged musical worthy of its budget, scale, and stars...

Posted January 7, 2018

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

(PG-13) jjj

We got fun and games...

I'm not sure whether I should be shocked, embarrassed, or a strange combination of both by how much I enjoyed - to quote its full title - JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, the long awaited sort of sequel, sort of franchise reboot of the 1995 Robin Williams starring original.  There has been a loyal contingent of fans out there that have coveted that 27-year-old film, which represented, for its time, a cutting edge CGI-infused fantasy action spectacular...

Posted January 7, 2018

BRIGHT (R) jj

A dull infusion of cop thriller and fantasy

The ironically titled BRIGHT is a would-be compelling genre mishmash effort that's so dull and uninspired in terms of execution that you have to wonder where its near $100 million budget went.  Netflix's most expensive feature film in their history was able to use that capital to nab a high marquee star and director in Will Smith and David Ayer away from theatrical productions and to the streaming service, and the end results clearly reveal that their talents were never fully utilized...

Posted January 7, 2018

  

 

 

DARKEST HOUR

(R) jjj1/2

 

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

(PG-13) 

jj1/2

 

THE DISASTER ARTIST

(R) jjj1/2

 

LADY BIRD

(R) jjjj

 

GOOD TIME 

(R) jj1/2

 

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

(R) jjjj

 

INGRID GOES WEST

(R) jjj

 

TULIP FEVER

(R) j1/2

 

WONDER

(PG-13) jjj1/2

 

JIM AND ANDY: THE GREAT BEYOND

(No MPAA rating) jjj1/2

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE

(PG-13)

jjj

 

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

(PG-13) jjj

 

DADDY'S HOME 2

(PG-13) jj

 

THOR: RAGNAROK

(PG-13)

jj1/2 

 

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

(PG-13) jj 

 

SUBURBICON

(R) jj

 

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE

(R) jjj

 

GEOSTORM

(PG-13) 1/2j

 

BATTLE OF THE SEXES

(PG-13) jjj  

 

THE SNOWMAN

(R) j  

 

THE FOREIGNER

(R) jjj1/2

 

THE BOOK OF HENRY

(R) zero stars

 

THE BEGUILED

(R) jjj1/2

 

HAPPY DEATH DAY 

(PG-13 ) jjj

 

BLADE RUNNER 2049 

(R) jjj

 

AMERICAN MADE

(R) jjj1/2

 

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

(R) jjj

 

STRONGER

(R) jjjj

 

THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE

(PG-13)

jj1/2

 

AMERICAN ASSASSIN

(R) jjj

 

GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS

(R) j1/2  

 

IT (R) jjj

 

GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS

(R) j1/2