Tag Archives: NPR

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.

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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.

Continental Drift: John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, reviewed.

Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, and two
Malinois take the road to Morocco.

One of these movies, we’re going to find out John Wick killed that dead spouse he’s been pining away for, aren’t we? Forgive my cynicism. On the day I saw the new, double-punctuated John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, I walked past the taped-off scene of one violent crime on my way to the subway that morning, and past the taped off scene of another violent crime on my way home from the movie 12 hours later. So I’m not sure it’s correct to call this celebration of ultraviolence escapism.

I sure did enjoy it, though. You can read about my enjoyment and my hand-wringing in my NPR review.

Hail, Dehydration! On Avengers: Endgame and the Incredibly Expanding Blockbuster

Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Karen Gillan, (voice of) Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd, Scarlett Johansson and a cast of thousands. (Marvel Studios)

Inspired by Avengers: Endgame, the 182-minute grand finale of the Marvel cinematic saga, I crunched some numbers and examined how blockbusters—especially ones not encumbered by Endgame’s hefty narrative obligations, with so many characters and storylines to pay off—are expanding at a much faster rate than is the human lifespan. I am solely responsible for the math in the piece, and the jokes.

You’ve been warned.

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.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Shazam! and What’s Making Us Happy

Jack Dylan Grazer and Zachary Levi in an enthusiastically punctuated superhero comedy.

I had a nice time joining the Pop Culture Happy Hour crew this week to discuss Shazam!, a lighter, brighter DC Comics movie that is also… a nice time. Doubtless I got invited on this episode because of the profile I wrote for the Ventura County Reporter waaaaaay back in January 2003 of Shazam! star Zachary Levi, a Local Boy Made Good for whom God has opened many doors, such as co-starring with Bob Newhart and the modern rhythm-and-blues singer Sisqo (“The Thong Song,” peak position No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100). He admires men of integrity like Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson. The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Three, friends.

Shazam! is the polar opposite of The Shield, the early-aughts post-Sopranos, pre-Breaking Bad cop show I’m currently revisiting, which is what’s making me happy this week and shall be for many weeks to come, because I bought the big doorstop blu-ray set with all 88 episodes.

You can listen to the episode here.

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.