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I recount the ten worst reasons to enter a cinema in the year that was.

 

 

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Total number of print reviews in archive:

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOKER (R) jjjj

An origin film that dances with devil in the pale moonlight

I needed time after screening JOKER to process all of its limitless complexities.  I resisted the urge to review it immediately after seeing it, mostly because I was still decompressing from it...even days later.  This is one of the most talked about films - in terms of pre and post release coverage - in recent memory, and one that has deeply polarized the media, critics, and fans alike (I'll deep dive into that in a bit).  With all of the smoke cleared I feel confident in just swinging for the fences by saying that JOKER is definitely one of the most dread inducing and depressingly disturbing films in a long while...

Posted October 11, 2019

AD ASTRA (PG-13) jjjj

Into the space heart of darkness

James Gray's AD ASTRA (which is Latin for "to the stars") is an unqualified and masterful triumph.  Not only does this represent an absolute technical marvel that frequently inspires legitimate awe and wonder, but it's also a decidedly rare breed of sci-fi star trekking effort that's more nuanced, thoughtful, and thematically ambitious and contemplative.  The film is a visual dynamo, yes, but despite its embarrassment of production riches AD ASTRA isn't slavishly reliant on VFX and mindless mayhem like most other bloated space epics...

Posted October 11, 2019

RAMBO: LAST BLOOD (R) jj1/2

A good supply of body bags sequel

It's been an awfully long road for Jonathon James Rambo since he was introduced in the early 1970s in Canadian author David Morrell's novel FIRST BLOOD.  That book spawned a movie adaptation in 1982, which delved into the back story of this former Green Beret Vietnam War vet that faced a different type of war trying to acclimate to his home country after combat, facing a nation of citizens that didn't think highly of the war and his involvement in it.  That gave way to the more aggressively cartoonish, but nevertheless entertaining RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II...

Posted October 3, 2019

BETWEEN TWO FERNS: 

 THE MOVIE 

(No MPAA Rating) jjj1/2 

Between an interview rock and a hard place

 

The new Netflix original comedy BETWEEN TWO FERNS: THE MOVIE takes its name and premise from the faux online celebrity interview show of the same name hosted by Zach Galifianakis (playing a version of himself) that was born on FUNNY OR DIE in 2008.  As the very specific title obviously demonstrates, the web series had the actor - in various states of being laughably idiotic and misinformed - aggressively interview various movie stars...

Posted October 3, 2019

SHAFT (R) j1/2

This rebootquel is a bad mutha...shut yer mouth...it's just bad

The original 1971 SHAFT was an urban detective noir that helped usher in the "blaxploitation" genre into the mainstream during its decade in question, and also made star Richard Roundtree a bona fide box office star and sex symbol.  That film spawned multiple sequels, as well as a sort of sequel, sort of reboot in 2000, directed by the late John Singleton and featuring everyone's favorite mutha f-bomb delivering star Samuel L. Jackson assuming the titular role (it turned out that he was actually Roundtree's Shaft's nephew)...

Posted October 3, 2019

IT: CHAPTER TWO (R) jj1/2

A second pennywise for your thoughts

IT: CHAPTER TWO falls victim to the pratfalls of many sequels in terms of mistakenly believing that bigger equates to better.  Whereas the 2017 prequel film (and massive box office hit) did a solid job of adapting Stephen King's source material (albeit with some fairly unobtrusive tweaks and changes here and there), this unavoidable follow-up suffers from an egregiously long winded running time, some unwieldy scripting, and many questionably lazy creative choices overall...

Posted September 22, 2019

THE GOLDFINCH (R) j1/2

As enthralling as paint drying on the wall

I experienced two overwhelmingly positive feelings during my experience of screening THE GOLDFINCH:  (1) The moment I entered the cinema with hope and optimism before the film began and (2) the moment I left the cinema when it was over. I pondered a lot about this film on my car ride home, but the prevailing thought that came to mind while watching - make that enduring - THE GOLDFINCH was "Brotman's Law" (named after the famous Chicago movie exhibitor Oscar Brotman): If nothing has happened by the end of the first reel, nothing is going to happen...

Posted September 22, 2019

THE FANATIC (R) zero stars

Pulp friction

THE FANATIC is a new stalker thriller of embarrassing, almost unfathomable awfulness, made all the inexcusably disposable because it contains one of the most wrongheaded performances by a former multiple Academy Award nominee that I can frankly recall.  Imagine I AM SAM cross bred with MISERY and THE FAN - except more creatively bankrupt - and you'll have a rough approximation of this inept piece of sensationalistic trash...

Posted September 22, 2019

ISN'T IT ROMANTIC (PG-13) jjj

A romcom within a romcom

I've frequently complained about the relative sameness of romcom entries, with so many that have been released over the years all feeling like they're made of the same regurgitated parts.  ISN'T IT ROMANTIC is, at least in some decent respects, an antidote this genre's most overused conventions, not to mention that it's a solid starring vehicle for Rebel Wilson (her solo debut).  It's a romantic fantasy that offers up a pretty intoxicating premise ripe for all sorts of comic possibilities...

Posted September 22, 2019

ANGEL HAS FALLEN (R) jj1/2

A bad day to die hard

To this very day I've find myself still defending my 3.5 star review of the 2013 DIE HARD clone OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN.  That Antoine Fuqua directed, Gerard Butler staring action vehicle never once hid the fact that it was a beyond obvious knock-off of the iconic 1988 Bruce Willis franchise/genre starter, but it emerged as one of the finest emulators of that cherished and very overused template and wholeheartedly delivered on successfully riffing on the bombastic films of a bygone era.  Having said that, I never thought that the superbly engineered OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN was requiring sequels...

Posted September 9, 2019

MA (R) jj

Big momma's house of horrors

MA is a new entry in an increasingly generic psychological thriller genre featuring deeply unhinged psychopaths that initially manage to find a way to befriend a small group of people with false displays of amiability before later being revealed as being dangerously unhinged and, well, full-on evil.  This Blumhouse produced effort concerns a group of partying teenagers who become close with a lonely middle aged woman that gives them access to booze and her basement to party...but then she's revealed to be an unchecked nutjob.  There's one thing that helps elevate this fairly pedestrian material: the presence of lead actress Octavia Spencer in the stalker role...

Posted September 9, 2019

READY OR NOT (R) jjj1/2

Here we come!

Just when you thought that the summer film season was all but over and done along comes READY OR NOT to emerge as one of the season's real eleventh hour diamond in the rough delights.  This viscerally nasty, but darkly hysterical screwball horror comedy benefits greatly from two things: (1) a wickedly nifty premise and (2) one of the most thanklessly committed genre performances of the summer (if not the year) by newcomer Samara Weaving, who runs the absolute emotional and physical gauntlet here in a very tricky role...

Posted August 31, 2019

GOOD BOYS (R) jjj

Bean Bag Boyz 4Life!

If your idea of a good time at the cinema is to spend 90 minutes watching a movie featuring six graders drop frequent f-bombs - and many, many other naughty words that would make the personas of GOODFELLAS cringe - then look no further than the paradoxically titled GOOD BOYS.  As for the rest of you...be afraid...be very afraid.  Okay, sarcasm aside, let me engage in some hard hitting truth bombing on you all.  Kids swear.  Sometimes...a lot...

Posted August 31, 2019

THE HUSTLE (PG-13) j

A dirty rotten remake

Announced in 2016, shot in 2017, and then very unceremoniously dumped in cinemas this year, THE HUSTLE is a remake of a remake that's inexcusable in its wretchedness.  The grifter comedy - with the latter word being used loosely - is a remake of the splendid 1988 Steve Martin and Michael Caine classic DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, which, in turn, was adapted from the Marlon Brando and David Niven headlined 1964 film BEDTIME STORY...

Posted August 31, 2019

TOLKIEN (PG-13) jj1/2

One paint-by-numbers biopic that doesn't rule them all

Outside of my basic knowledge that he wrote some of the most cherished and iconic fantasy novels of the 20th Century, I really don't profess to be an expert or scholar on the life and times of James Ronald Reuel Tolkien, known the world over as J.R.R. Tolkien, the creator of, yes, THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.  Often considered the father of modern fantasy literature, there's simply no denying his massive influence and importance for the genre, which also spawned one of the most critically and audience adored film trilogies ever made...

Posted August 24, 2019

STOCKHOLM (R) jj

A dog of a movie to not watch in the afternoon

The new fact based crime drama STOCKHOLM takes its name from, yes, the Swedish city, but the film is also based on a 1974 Daniel Lang New Yorker article that concerned a real-life bank robbery and hostage situation that occurred at a major bank in the city.  Taking place at Norrmalmstorg square in Stockholm in 1973, this well publicized incident - one of the first criminal events to be broadcast on live TV in the nation - helped coin the term "Stockholm Syndrome"...

Posted August 24, 2019

THE FAST AND FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW

(PG-13) jj1/2

The Transporters

To quote its full and somewhat awkwardly assembled titled, FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW is the very first spin-off entry in the seemingly impervious to death franchise that was arguably born out of a reported clashing of two massive action hero egos.  Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel apparently did not like being in each other's presence while on set of the last F&F film, which meant that separating the pair and giving the former his own entry proved inevitable...

Posted August 17, 2019

I AM MOTHER

(No MPAA Rating) jjj

 

Never to part...baby of mine...

The new Netflix film I AM MOTHER is an atypically handsome looking and thoughtfully scripted sci-fi genre effort for the streaming network, one that refreshingly favors compelling themes and empowered performances over bombastic action and VFX overkill.  Based ever so loosely on the young adult novel THE SEARCH FOR WONDLA by Tony DiTerlizzi, this Grant Sputore helmed film represents a solid feature debut for the Australian director...

Posted August 17, 2019

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

(R) jjj1/2

And the industry lived happily ever after

Writer/director Quentin Tarantino was just a wee young lad in 1969 when he was growing up in the City of Angels, with both that year and location serving of prominent importance to his ninth directorial effort in ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD.   Los Angeles is, of course, a legendary place deeply entrenched in moviemaking that, by the filmmaker's own admission, has indelibly shaped his life and career.  The film's title hints at not only its fairy tale trappings...

Posted August 5, 2019

CRAWL (R) jjj

Here comes the story of the hurricane...

CRAWL is two movies for the price of one.  It's a monster horror flick about a real life aquatic creature wreaking havoc on a deeply vulnerable family and it's also an outdoor survival drama concerning a dangerous force of Mother Nature baring down on the same said family.  There's not much here that really reinvents the genre wheel, and the Alexandre Aja (PIRANHA 3D) directed and Sam Raimi/Blumhouse produced effort plays into the playbook of those aforementioned types of films without straying too much away from them...

Posted August 5, 2019

THE INTRUDER (PG-13 zero stars

SOMEONE CALL THE COPS ON THE MAKERS OF THIS FILM!!!

Two things dawned on me while watching the new home invasion thriller THE INTRUDER: 1. Star Dennis Quaid is impossibly ripped for a man that's five years away from 70.  2. This movie really sucks. THE INTRUDER is a double dipping offender:  It's not just an artistically lazy film, but also a wholeheartedly unnecessary one...

Posted August 5, 2019

THE LION KING 

(PG-13) jj

A broken circle of life

I covet the original 1994 LION KING as highly as anybody.  Disney's 32nd and sumptuously 2D animated feature arguably represented the highest artistic and commercial plateau for the House of Mouse during that era (it came just four years into the company's new renaissance and ended up being the highest grossing film of its year and still remains the biggest money making 2D animated effort in existence)...

Posted July 28, 2019

AFTER (PG-13) j

Unhappily ever after

The new young adult romance drama AFTER is an adaptation of a novel of the same name by Anna Todd that's so insipidly scripted that one has to question how the book version even saw the publishing light of day.  It tells a story of hopeless mediocrity and numbing predictability about a young "nice girl" college freshman that finds herself falling for a "bad boy" that has multiple issues...

Posted July 28, 2019

STUBER (R) jjj

RIDE SHARE: THE MOVIE!

STUBER - which takes its name as an amalgam of the name of one of its lead characters and the world famous ride sharing company - is another in an awfully long line of throwback buddy cop action comedies that feels like it's made of regurgitated parts from countless other films.  It wallows in a considerable amount of formulas and conventions, not to mention that its premise, on paper, is pretty silly...

Posted July 28, 2019

THE BEACH BUM  (R) j1/2

Consider the 'McConaughnaissance' over...

Watching THE BEACH BUM was akin to being forced to spend 90 straight minutes with an annoyingly dislikeable goon that simply won't leave you alone despite all efforts on your part to tell him to "go away!"  It was one of the most thoroughly unpleasant filmgoing experiences that I've had this year, which was made all the more unpleasant when one considers that there's sizeable talent in front of and behind the camera...

Posted July 20, 2019

TEEN SPIRIT (PG-13) jj1/2

Here we are now...entertain us!

Two thirds of TEEN SPIRIT work really well.  It contains a winning lead performance as well as stylish and evocative direction by a rookie director.  The remaining third of the film, though, that regrettably doesn't work is its screenplay, which wallows in a lot of tired underdog formulas that we've frankly been exposed to countless times before...

Posted July 20, 2019

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME

(PG-13) jj

My "Peter Tingle" is...tingling

The super hero movie world was shaken to near Snap- level proportions back in 2015 when Sony and the Disney owned Marvel Studios hatched out a plan to allow for Spider-Man to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe on a reported five film loan (Sony has owned the movie rights to the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko character for years).  This culminated with a first appearance in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR...

Posted July 13, 2019

YESTERDAY (PG-13) jjj

Still my guitar gently weeps

YESTERDAY is a new musical dramatic fantasy that has one terrific hook: What if you woke up one day and discovered that The Beatles never existed. Now, just let that settle in for a second. Just imagine the musical landscape of the last several decades without the work of the Fab Four.  Their work was not just music, kind of like how STAR WARS was not just a movie.  If erased from history, the ripple effects of The Beatles' influence on multiple generations of musicians would have, in turn, never existed...

Posted July 13, 2019

HIGH LIFE (R) jjjj

To infinity...and beyond!

There have been enough science fiction films that have explored space travel to literally fill a black hole, which leaves most new entries having to work overtime to overcome stale genre lethargy.  HIGH LIVE falls into the aforementioned category, but its genius is in how deceptively it transcends the obligatory accoutrements of these types of space trekking tales, partially because of its masterfully economic scale, but mostly because it's the exact polar opposite of what viewers have come to expect from the genre...

Posted July 13, 2019 

TOY STORY 4 

(PG) jjj

Once again, you got a friend in me...

Pixar has absolutely nothing to prove.  The pioneering animation studio was solely responsible for fundamentally altering the landscape of movies forever with the release of 1995's TOY STORY, which was the very first animated feature film done entirely with computers.  Much like what the original STAR WARS did for visual effects, the John Lasseter directed TOY STORY opened up a whole new portal into how animated films could be conceived and created...

Posted July 4, 2019

DOMINO (R) jj

De Palma's way

I fondly recall a time when seeing a Brain De Palma film reached event status levels for me.  The stylish and acclaimed auteur made some of the most memorable films of the 1970s and 1980s in CARRIE, BLOW OUT, SCARFACE, and THE UNTOUCHABLES.  This led to a bit of a career slowdown in the 90s, and for every solid effort like CARLITO'S WAY and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE there were colossal misfires like THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES...

Posted July 4, 2019

MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL 

(PG-13) j1/2

Can this sequel be neuralized out of existence?

The somewhat more inclusive minded titled MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL is a pretty bland and creatively lackluster sequel that, last I checked, not too many people were clamoring for, especially without the series' lead actors or creative personnel returning.  It's the fourth film in the science fiction comedy franchise...

Posted June 25, 2019

LATE NIGHT (R) jjj1/2

And heeeeeeeeere's...Mindy!

LATE NIGHT is an intelligently written, wonderfully acted, and hilariously insightful workplace comedy that feels like a most joyous and welcome antidote to the current summer film season's witless remakes and wrongheaded sequels.  It's not only a riotously funny expose on the behind the scenes mechanizations of a fictitious late night talk show program, but is also a highly topical and relevant tale of how race, gender, and modern feminism figures into a male dominated profession...

Posted June 25, 2019

THE DEAD DON'T DIE (R) jj

A mostly dead on arrival horror comedy

THE DEAD DON'T DIE is a new zombie themed effort that felt more like a bizarre and frequently frustrating to endure curiosity piece than it did a fully fledged and realized horror comedy.  The fact that it boasts an impressively assembled and eclectic cast and the idiosyncratic writer/director Jim Jarmusch at the creative helm made my enthusiasm going in exceedingly high...

Posted June 25, 2019

DARK PHOENIX (PG-13) jj

Not exactly rising from the series ashes

There's an unintentionally hilarious - and quite meta - line of dialogue uttered during DARK PHOENIX, the twelfth installment in Fox's X-MEN-centric film franchise and the direct sequel to 2016's X-MEN: APOCALYPSE.  During this scene we see former mass human murdering mutant turned at peace with himself communal hippie once again turned hostile Erik "Magneto" Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) getting fed up with frenemy Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his rhetoric...

Posted June 15, 2019

BOOKSMART (R) jjj

A near grade A high school comedy

BOOKSMART doesn't so much transcend and rise above high school teen comedy formulas as much as it does tap into its already well worn genre playbook, albeit with some nifty and fresh new refinements.  Like countless other examples that have come before it, this film delves into a storyline of a couple of graduating social outcasts desperately trying to attain one last night of debauchery and fun with the popular kids that have previously shunned them...

Posted June 15, 2019

ROCKETMAN (R) jjj

Sing us a song, you're the piano man!

ROCKETMAN is a new music biography about select sections of the life and times of Elton John, the iconic English singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer that has sold over a quarter of a billion records worldwide, making him one of the best selling artists in history.  It comes coasting in on the coattails, so to speak, of last year's Oscar nominated BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, and comparisons between the these two - albeit very different - films is inevitable...

Posted June 15, 2019

GODZILLA

KING OF THE MONSTERS

(R) jj1/2

Let them fight!

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS - the third film in Legendary Pictures' self anointed  "MonsterVerse" - is pure and unapologetic creature mayhem and city destruction pornography.  It comes off of director Gareth Edwards' underrated cinematic universe starting installment, and this new sequel is a bigger, louder, and most definitely dumber sequel...

Posted June 6, 2019

ALADDIN (PG) jj

Not really a whole new world

Contrary to what many people think, I donít despise all Disney remakes of their past animated properties. I thought PETEíS DRAGON, for example, was an absolutely stupendous remake and one of the best family films of its year. And it legitimately improved and expanded upon its antecedent.  But that also wasnít a remake of a cherished/iconic classic that was adored by both critics and audiences...

 

Posted June 6, 2019

STARFISH 

(No MPAA Rating) jjj1/2

A girl, an apocalypse, and a world saving mixtape

STARFISH is an endlessly compelling, ambitious, and audacious cinematic cocktail: Part scavenger hunt mystery, part meditation on grief and mourning, and part avant garde post apocalyptic sci-fi, all thanklessly held together by musician turned first time feature film director A.T. White.  Unlike so many witless and disposable works of movie science fiction that exist primarily for visual effects, mayhem and action, STARFISH is a different and rarer breed of genre effort...

Posted June 6, 2019

BRIGHTBURN  (R) jj

Faster than a speeding bullet and more kill happy than Jason Voorhees...

 

One of my favorite comic books growing up was Marvel's WHAT IF, which featured alternate take stories exploring various super heroes in its universe that were  decidedly different from the established continuity.  It just made for juicy reading, and the comic book covers for these issues were hypnotically alluring (one of my favorites involved a Spider-Man arc and featured the title "What if Uncle Ben had Lived?")...

 

Posted June 6, 2019

JOHN WICK: 

CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM

(R) jjjj

He knows gung fu...prepare for war

Third films in an action franchise have absolutely no business being as stupendously satisfying and delivering on all tangible and promised levels as much as JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM.  One thing dawned on me while watching this sequel's unrelenting onslaught of masterfully engineered and executed bedlam: Keanu Reeves is 54-years-old.  Just...just let that settle in for a minute...

Posted May 29, 2019

WHAT MEN WANT 

(R) j1/2

A...better...remake...

than...this?

I'm not technically against gender swapped remakes of movies, regardless of genre.  However, these remakes have to earn their keep and justify their very existence.  The new romantic comedy WHAT MEN WANT - which is a very loose remake of the 2000 Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt starring romcom WHAT WOMEN WANT - doesn't make for a strong case study in regards to said pursuits...

Posted May 29, 2019

POKEMON: DETECTIVE PIKACHU

(PG) jj

Some mysteries aren't worth solving

To quote its full title, POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU isn't a film made for me.  I don't know much about Pokemon.  I'm not a fan of the Pokemon phenomenon.  I don't try to hunt and/or collect Pokemon (either virtually or literally).  And maybe I don't simply get Pokemon.  But I do know that POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU isn't so much a movie as it is a near two hour product placement commercial...

Posted May 20, 2019

APOLLO 11 (PG) jjjj

A doc for all mankind

There are very few films these days that legitimately instill in me a childlike sensation of awe and wonder in their sights and make me feel like I've been thoroughly transported out of my cinema chair and into the events transpiring on screen as an active participant.  Todd Douglas Miller's astonishing new documentary, simply titled APOLLO 11, is one of those decidedly rare breeds of filmgoing experiences...

Posted May 20, 2019

DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE

(R) jjj

A stone cold heist thriller

The thought of seeing yet another crooked cops thriller really has very little appeal to me these days, seeing as my time to screen movies is precious, not to mention that the genre itself has been literally done to death over the years.  But writer/director S. Craig Zahler's DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE has somewhat renewed my faith in these types of films, mostly because it favors slow burn intrigue and character dynamics versus action...

Posted May 20, 2019

LONG SHOT (R) jjj

The odd couple road to the White House

I don't typically ask much of most romcoms. I honestly don't.  Even when their plots go down the most predictable of paths all that I simply require out of them is to make me care.  These films must give me two characters that are likeable, relatable, and that I want to see live on happily ever after just before the end credits roll by...

Posted May 15, 2019

EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE

(No MPAA Rating) jj

 

Confessions of a serial killer

 

EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL, AND VILE is an extremely uneven, shockingly misguided, and dull biographical crime thriller.  Itís a portrait of Ted Bundy - one of the most loathsome serial killers of all time - and his relationship with his then girlfriend before the law caught up with him and his heinous crimes.  Sadly, this film is never really sure what it wants to be about...

 

Posted May 15, 2019

AVENGERS: ENDGAME

(PG-13)  jjj

We're in the fan servicing endgame now, Tony... 

I remember screening the very first IRON MAN film way, way back in 2008 and, for the most part, shrugged off the final end credit scene featuring a surprise cameo by Samuel L. Jackson's S.H.I.E.L.D. head honcho Nick Fury talking to Robert Downey Jr.'s metal clad hero about "the Avengers Initiative."  Contemplating the massive scope of what was promised here, I turned to my friend at the time and whispered into his ear that an AVENGERS film will "never happen"...

Posted May 6, 2019

UNDER THE SILVER LAKE 

(R) jjj

There's a silver lining to this troubled production

After the twisted, genre busting greatness of writer/director David Robert Mitchell's 2014 art house horror thriller IT FOLLOWS - which I proudly placed on my list for the Ten Best Films of that year - I was willing to jump down any rabbit hole he placed in front of me moving forward.  With its joyously and nostalgically synthesized music score, slick direction, and crafty and sly dissection of teen slasher film troupes, IT FOLLOWS ushered Mitchell in as a bono fide talent...

Posted May 6, 2019

MISS BALA  (PG-13) jj

An AK-47 packing beauty queen 

The new crime thriller MISS BALA is one of those all too frequent and frustrating filmgoing experiences because it contains a wonderfully authentic and textured lead performance that's mostly betrayed from some extremely spotting writing and weak handling of its would-be compelling themes.  The premise itself - if handled improperly - easily inspires chuckles...

Posted May 6 , 2019 

PET SEMATARY (R) jj1/2  

This gravesite needs a spell check

I have vague memories of the original 1989 film adaptation of Stephen King's 1983 PET SEMATARY horror novel, which places me, I guess, in a somewhat advantageous place going into its modern remake of the same name without having any baggage.  As to the number of changes and tweaks this Kevin Kolsch and Denis Widmyer directed version makes to the source material and the previous film iteration I cannot say...

Posted April 27, 2019

REPLICAS (R) j

Man playing God...the really dumb version

 

A few weeks ago I appeared on live TV and defended Keanu Reeves for being a better actor than he's often given credit for.  I also went on to explain that when he's given just the right character, film, and director married to his unique skills then he can be a commanding and charismatic screen presence (the recent JOHN WICK films come to mind).  However, I did concede that the Canadian actor has most certainly delivered his fair share of lousy performances and has appeared in many equally mediocre films over the years...

 

Posted April 27, 2019

HELLBOY (R) j1/2  

Aw crap

Back in 2004 writer/director Guillermo del Toro introduced movie audiences to the bizarre comic book universe of HELLBOY, which in turn was born in comic book form thanks to Mike Mignola.  I enjoyed that film as a preposterously imaginative fantasy that was unafraid to go against the grain of obligatory genre fare of the era.  That, and del Toro painted the screen with luscious art direction and then cutting edge visual effects...

Posted April 25, 2019

MISSING LINK (PG) jjj1/2  

Where the not so wild things are

The unendingly delightful and beautifully rendered MISSING LINK is the latest stop motion animated effort from Laika, the Oregon based studio that previously made one of the best films of its kind in 2016's KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS (which, incidentally, made my list of the Ten Best Films of its year).  Their follow-up effort could not be anymore different in MISSING LINK...

Posted April 25, 2019

SHAZAM!  

(PG-13) jjj1/2

HOLY MOLEY!!!

How is it even possible that a comic book character that premiered to readers just a year after Superman in 1939, sold more comic books during the 1940s than the Man of Steel, and has been a pretty consistently popular entity for several decades has never had a lavish big screen live action film all to his own?...

Posted April 16, 2019

A DOG'S WAY HOME

(PG) j1/2

A dog with fleas family drama

Full disclosure: I'm more of a cat man.  Sorry, canine lovers.  However, I don't hate dogs.  I like dogs too.  But I hate dumb movies about dogs.  Actually, I hate dumb movies about any type of animal.  I just wanted to throw that all out there before I officially review A DOG'S WAY HOME, just so I don't, as I move forward, come off as some smug feline lover.  Just to be clear, there have been many movies involving talking animals - in one form or another - that I've cherished...

Posted April 16, 2019

DUMBO 

(PG) jj

Another Disney remake that rarely soars

It's utterly ironic that we can essentially thank Tim Burton for the recent batch of Disney's live action adaptations of their own cherished animated classics. The studio's recent and highly dubious business practice as of late really began with Burton's own large scale and lavish live action iteration of their own ALICE IN WONDERLAND...

Posted April 8, 2019

THE HIGHWAYMEN

(No MPAA Rating) jjj

 

On the hunt for Bonnie and Clyde

 

When cinephiles think of the Depression era criminal ways of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker it's pretty easy to deduce that Arthur Penn's iconic Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway starring 1960's film probably comes immediately to their minds.  That fifty-plus year old classic deserves its legendary status in the industry, most specifically for how incomparably important it was for the then New Hollywood culture...

 

Posted April 8, 2019

THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT 

(PG-13) jj1/2

The butterfly Internet effect

THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT is a new techno-thriller that's about a bunch of industrious conmen that want to secretly install a vast fiber optic cable in the ground running from Kansas to New York that, if successful, will allow them a one millisecond advantage on all other investors in stock exchange transactions, thereby making them rich.  Now, maybe the term techno-thriller could be used sarcastically in describing this film...

Posted April 8, 2019

US (R) jjj

Invasion of the body double snatchers

 

I can't think of a single other filmmaker in recent memory that has had as much of an unlikely career transition and meteoric rise in the industry as Jordan Peele.  He went from writing and appearing in TV sketch comedy as part of the two-man group Key and Peele with Keegan Michael Key and literally overnight became a member of the directorial elite with his first feature film behind the camera in 2017's GET OUT...

 

Posted April 5, 2019

FIVE FEET PART (PG-13) jj1/2 

Lovers in a dangerous time

FIVE FEET APART is the kind of movie that polarized me more than any other that I've recently screened.  Parts of me greatly admired its layered and authentically rendered performances.  Other parts of me loathed this film for how shamefully manipulative it was in using a particularly awful disease for the purposes of making a pretty paint-by-numbers and on genre autopilot teen romance drama...

Posted April 5, 2019

CAPTIVE STATE (PG-13) jj

A sci-fi thriller held hostage by poor world building

CAPTIVE STATE is a new freedom fighters battling an alien invasion and occupation sci-fi thriller that has an awful lot of compelling ideas and themes as far as this very overstuffed genre goes.  It's a tremendously ambitious movie.  But, gee whiz, it's also messily scripted, ineptly edited, and, worst of all, quite dull overall, which makes it especially hard to care about anyone or anything in the storyPlus, and this might sound weird, but CAPTIVE STATE suffers from, well, being a movie...

Posted March 31, 2019

TRIPLE FRONTIER

(No MPAA Rating) jjj

 

One last score

The new Netflix original film TRIPLE FRONTIER boasts some serious talent behind the scenes.  We have screenwriter Mark Boal, who previously penned and produced ZERO DARK THIRTY as well as winning an Oscar for his script for the Best Picture awarded THE HURT LOCKER.  Behind the camera for TRIPLE FRONTIER is J.C. Chandor, best known for one of the best outdoor survival films ever made in 2013's ALL IS LOST...

Posted March 31, 2019

CAPTAIN MARVEL

(PG-13) jj1/2

I'm just a girl in the world...

Yes, the fact that CAPTAIN MARVEL is the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first solo super hero entry that stars a woman and is co-written and directed by a woman is definitely something to be celebrated.  Having said that, it's taken the MCU an unforgivably long time - twenty films and over ten years, as a matter of fact - to release a female driven comic book film, which means that CAPTAIN MARVEL is in the better late than never category...

Posted March 19, 2019

FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY

(PG-13) jjj

Do ya smell what Paige is cookin'?

Part dysfunctional family drama, part underdog overcoming all odds sports biopic, and part WWE recruitment film, FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY tells the fact based story - with obvious dramatic embellishment and some blind eye turning to history - of Saraya-Jade Bevis, an English professional wrestling personality that would eventually adopt the moniker of "Paige" and become one of the biggest female stars of the WWE...

Posted March 19, 2019

ARCTIC (R) jjj1/2

A most - ahem! - chilling outdoor survival thriller

There have been far too many man versus nature outdoor survival thrillers over the years to seemingly keep track of, which means that any filmmaker trying to impart some much needed freshness of approach in the well worn genre most certainly has their work cut of for them.  Nevertheless, I'm a real sucker for these type of films, especially when they reduce ordinary people down to their primal essence in a desperate attempt to stave off thirst, hunger, predators, and eventually death...

Posted March 19, 2019

GRETA (R) jj

Not everyone needs a friend

GRETA is the kind of psychopathic stalker killer from hell genre exercise that feels so woefully telegraphed, antiquated, and paint-by-numbers that I left my screening pondering why a filmmaker of Neil Jordan's established pedigree would ever bother wasting his time making it.  This is a film essentially made on autopilot, emulating the very popular aforementioned sub-genre that became prominent in the 1980s and 1990s...

Posted March 10, 2019

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON:

THE HIDDEN WORLD 

(PG) jjjj

How to make the perfect trilogy

Dreamworks' HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON franchise has been one of the sublime surprises of the animated film world, which began so modestly, yet powerfully with the 2010 original that told an epically staged Viking fantasy storyline featuring an awkward and shy lad befriending an elusive dragon (mythical beasts that were sworn enemies of humanity)...

Posted March 10, 2019

THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT 

(R) jjj1/2

Sam Elliott: Nazi and creature hunter

To quote its gloriously specific - yet monumentally spoilerific - title, THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT is a new action adventure film steeped in history and more than a bit of pulpy, comic book inspired intrigue.  Reading that title alone will probably elicit ample eye rolling in some filmgoers, seeing as it will probably make them feel that this is low budget, B-grade fare designed for midnight showings at grindhouse cinemas...

Posted March 10, 2019

  

 

 

 

ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL 

(PG-13)

jjj1/2

 

HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U 

(PG-13) jj1/2

 

THE LEGO MOVIE 2:

THE SECOND PART

(PG) jjj

 

COLD PURSUIT

(R) jjj1/2

 

THE LEGO MOVIE 2:

THE SECOND PART 

(PG) jjj

 

COLD PURSUIT

(R) jjj1/2

 

VELVET BUZZSAW

(No MPAA Rating)

jj1/2

 

HIGH FLYING BIRD

(No MPAA Rating)

jjj

 

THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING

(PG-13) jjj1/2 

 

SERENITY

(R) j

 

GLASS

(PG-13) jj

 

ROMA

(No MPAA Rating)

jjjj

 

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

(R) jjj

 

ESCAPE ROOM

(PG-13) jj

 

THE UPSIDE

(PG-13) jjj

 

WELCOME TO MARWEN

(PG-13)

jjj1/2

 

HOLMES

& WATSON

(PG-13) 1/2j

 

BUMBLEBEE

(PG-13) jj1/2

 

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

(R) jjj1/2

 

VICE

(R) jjj

 

AQUAMAN

(PG-13)

jjj1/2

 

SPIDER-MAN: 

INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

(PG)

jjj

 

MARY POPPINS RETURNS

(PG) jjj

 

MORTAL ENGINES

(PG-13) j1/2

 

THE MULE

(R) jj1/2 

 

CRAZY RICH ASIANS

(PG-13) jj1/2 

 

BOY ERASED

(R) jjj1/2 

 

THE FRONT RUNNER

(R) jj1/2

 

BLINDSPOTTING

(R) jjj

 

GREEN BOOK

(PG-13) jjj1/2

 

CREED II

(PG-13) jjj

 

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

(PG-13) jj

 

WIDOWS

(R) jjjj

 

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB

(R) jj1/2 

 

OVERLORD

(R) jjj1/2

 

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

(PG-13) jjj

 

THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN

(R) jjj1/2

 

HUNTER KILLER

(R) jj1/2