Tag Archives: film reviews

Vin Diagram: “Bloodshot,” reviewed.

Memento and Iron Man 3 star Guy Pearce with Vin Diesel in a comic book adaptation that shamelessly rips off Memento and Iron Man 3, among other films. (Sony)

If the last movie I ever get to see in the theater is a goddamn Vin Diesel vehicle, I’m gonna die very angry. My review of Bloodshot is here.

Bovine Intervention: “First Cow,” reviewed.

Orion Lee and John Magaro play friends and business partners in 1820s Oregon. (A24)

Full disclosure: I saw First Cow, the new 19th century-set frontier drama from cowriter/director Kelly Reichardt last night at a screening that was followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker herself. At the end of the evening, she saw me crutching along—I had arthroscopic surgery to repair my meniscus two weeks ago today—and she held the door for me.

That decent gesture did not in any way influence my NPR review of First Cow, which is here.

Zeke, a Mouse: Zombieland: Double Tap, reviewed.

Rosario Dawson (second from left) joins Breslin, Eisenberg, Stone, and Harrelson for the decade-later sequel. (Sony)

PREPARE YOURSELVES for the long-unawaited, hotly unanticipated sequel to the zombie road movie you’re pretty sure you saw on a plane a decade ago! I didn’t mind watching it one bit. My NPR review is here.

The Ampersands of Time: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, reviewed.

Bald Is Beautiful: Dwayne Johnson & Jason Statham. (Universal)

Look, all of the Fast & Furious movies have stolen their best bits from better movies, but when the new double-ampersand sidebar flick Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw actually had its cyborg villain, Brixton Lorr (Idris Elba) get orders from an unseen superior to try to turn heroes Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) over to the Dark Side, I still managed to be surprised. My NPR review is here.

Collateral Ham-age: Stuber, reviewed.

Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani are better than the movie they’re in. (Hopper Stone/Fox)

Halfway through another summer packed with sequels and reboots and brand IP extensions, it give me no pleasure, none at all, to have to tell you that Stuber, an action comedy from an “original” screenplay and starring two very talented and appealing comic actors in Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani… is just Collateral, only not as good.

My NPR review is here. Ugh! I feel terrible!

The Third Time’s the Charmless: Shaft, reviewed.

Jessie T. Usher, Samuel L. Jackson, and Richard Roundtree (Kyle Kaplan)

Some stuff I didn’t have space to say in my NPR review of Tim Story’s not-very-good new Shaft: The distinctive feature of the Shafts is a shared contempt for crosswalks and a love for walking into traffic. And it’s a shame that after Gordon Parks’ Shaft hit big in 1971, newspaperman-turned-novelist-turned screenwriter Ernest Tidyman got right to work adapting his third novel about the Black Private Dick Who’s a Sex Machine to All the Chicks, Shaft’s Big Score!, skipping right over Shaft Among the Jews.

Royal Flush: Godzilla: King of the Monsters, reviewed.

I really liked Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla, and I want to like any movie with the audacity to call itself Godzilla: King of the Monsters, but Michael Dougherty’s sequel is dreary drag, man. Good enough to catch on a double or triple-bill at Bengies on a gorgeous summer night, but no better than that. I reviewed G: KofM for NPR.

Monsters, Ink: Hellboy, reviewed.

David Harbour inherits the fist, the horns, and the abs from Ron Perlman. (Mark Rogers)

It’s a shame about Hellboy (Neil Marshall, 2019). But we’ll always have Hellboy (Guillermo del Toro, 2004). My NPR review of the former is here. But none of these movies are as satisfying as just reading Mike Mignola’s Hellboy stories on the page, if you ask me.

Only the Elephants Will Remember: Dumbo, reviewed.

Eva Green rides a computer-generated flying elephant. (Disney)

No critique of a long-lived artist is lazier or more boring than “I liked the early shit.” What can I say? I’m enough of a partisan of enough of the movies Tim Burton made back in the previous century that I’m always rooting for him to get his groove back. Alas, his new Dumbo shows no evidence of groove restoration. It’s fine, but any number of hacks like the ones who make Dwayne Johnson vehicles might’ve directed this movie for all the personality it’s got. My NPR review is here.

G.I. Jane the Virgin: Miss Bala, reviewed.

2262477 - Gloria

Wherein Gina Rodriguez makes a run at the Reluctant Hero Midwinter Action throne, Ismael Cruz Córdova makes eyes, and Anthony Mackie makes a shockingly brief appearance.

Dancing With Myself: Suspiria, reviewed.

suspiria-16-427-AB-SUSPIRIA-04-0328-5_EW Fall Preview_rgb.jpgLuca Guadagnino’s new reimagining of the vibrant Dario Argento Italian cult classic Suspiria is is vulgar, shamelessly pretentious, and frequently opaque. But there were also things about about it that I didn’t like. My NPR review is here. Continue reading

That 90s Show: Venom, reviewed.

Spider-Man 316 cover

For NPR, I reviewed Venom, which I can’t actually prove is a shelved Jim Carrey vehicle from 1997 in which Carrey has now been digitally (and tentacle-y) replaced by Tom Hardy.

But you can’t prove that it’s not.

Anti-Monster Squad: The Predator, reviewed.

THE PREDATOR

Predator, directed by John McTiernan the year before he made Die Hard, has been a favorite film of mine ever since I biked home with the rented VHS cassette (I couldn’t persuade my dad to take me, aged 10, to see it in the theater) and watched it three or four times in a weekend. It was the 12th highest-grossing film of 1987, a year when the box office top five was Three Men and a Baby, Fatal Attraction, Beverly Hills Cop II, Good Morning, Vietnam, and Moonstruck. One sequel and four original, not-based-on-preexisting material screenplays. Just in case you need a sense of just how long ago that was.

Anyway, I love Shane Black, so I wanted The Predator to be better than it is. My NPR review is here.

Berg & Wahlberg ‘Burg: Mile 22, reviewed.

MILE 22

Mile 22 is essentially Mission: Impossible minus amazing stunts, jokes, joy, Tom Cruise running, Rebecca Ferguson felling dudes by getting her leg over their shoulders, or Henry Cavill’s mustache. Also minus a great Iko Uwais fight scene or any sort of Ronda Rousey fight scene, which is odd because they’re both in the movie. But! There are one or two actual ideas in this thing that deserve homes in better movies. My NPR review of Mile 22 is here.

Shark, Weak: The Meg, reviewed.

Statham MEGPal-for-Life Glen Weldon did me a solid with that headline. Of all the giant-shark thrillers that’ve been scaring us out of the water since Jaws invented the summer blockbuster, The Meg is without question the most recent. Here’s my NPR review.

Somebody’s Done It Better: The Spy Who Dumped Me, reviewed.

The Spy Who Dumped Me Day 24

I really hate to say this about one of the only movies directed by a woman this summer, but The Spy Who Dumped Me is an oddly violent, only sporadically funny action comedy that doesn’t deserve Kate McKinnon. Here’s my NPR review.

Choose to Accept It: Mission: Impossible — Fallout, reviewed.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT
Mission: Impossible — Fallout is the smart spy spectacle SPECTRE shoulda been, and Tom Cruise is the best movie runner since that horse Eadweard Muybridge photographed in 1872. A little too much Cruiseplaining, but whaddayagonnado? Reader, I married it.

“‘Man’ Ain’t Spelled G-U-N, Son!” The Equalizer 2, reviewed.

Ashton Sanders;Denzel WashingtonIf you can stomach the fridging, The Equalizer 2 has a lot to like. Denzel trying to get Ashton Sanders from Moonlight to read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, for one thing. Here’s my NPR review.

Deleted Scenes: On Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Benicio Del Toro;Isabela MonerSpoiler for Sicario: Day of the Soldado, which is the Denis Villeneuve/Roger Deakins/Emily Blunt/Daniel Kaluuya-free sequel to the very good 2015 drug war thriller Sicario. Late in the movie, Josh Brolin, reprising his role as a C.I.A. black-ops guy from the first movie, is ordered to kill a 16-year-old girl—an unarmed noncombatant who is the daughter of a drug kingpin but not a criminal herself. There’s more to it than that, but that’s all I’ll say just in case you feel compelled to see the film, which I do not endorse.

Anyway, I talked about that scene in my review, which went into production in November 2016, the same month we elected a president who said on TV during the campaign that if you want to stop terrorists, “you have to go after their families.” Given that Day of the Soldado opens with a scenario wherein Muslim suicide bombers are believed to have snuck into the United States across the Mexican border (though they’re later revealed to have been American citizens from New Jersey), I believe this plot element was directly inspired by the current president’s campaign rhetoric
Continue reading

Notes on Dinosaur Camp: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, reviewed and discussed on Pop Culture Happy Hour.

jurassic-world-fallen-kingdom-indoraptor
Here’s my review of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. That link will also take you to where you can hear Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and Glen Weldon discuss the movie and its place in the Jurassic-iad with me in the fourth chair.

I regret that it never occurred to me to refer to this film as Jurassic 5 even though “Sum of Us” is an all-timer shadowboxing jam. I also regret that none of us, not even Thompson, thought to mention the moment in Jurassic 5 when it seems like Ted Levine from The Silence of the Lambs is about to start singing “See My Vest.” You’ll know the one I mean.