Wednesday, December 26, 2018

If Beale Street Could Talk - Review

Merely a few years removed from directing and writing a Best Picture winner, Barry Jenkins returns to grace audiences with another exquisite and emotional film. In many ways, If Beale Street Could Talk feels like a spiritual sibling to Moonlight, with Jenkins melding of aesthetically pleasing frames, precise use of color, and a mesmerizing integration of music to ensnare the audience into this world, and possibly put himself in line for another winner.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Bumblebee - Review

No one needed, or really wanted, a Bumblebee prequel when it was announced back in 2016. The Transformers series had long been the butt of the joke when it came to big budget Hollywood franchises, even if they continually made piles of money, and a sixth entry was appealing to very few. But as the development progressed and Paramount brought in talented people to write and direct their prequel, anticipation began to mount. The final product is not only worthy of existence, but it is actually good and remarkably exciting.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Mary Queen of Scots - Review

Where one costume drama strives to be different and unique in The Favourite, another aims for the typical and well-traveled path of films that have come before. It isn’t that Mary Queen of Scots is bad by any means, just safe, utilizing the usual tropes and beats that similar films have come to follow. And yet its production design and costumes paired with some talented leading women make it hard to write off entirely.

Mary Poppins Returns - Review

The staying power of the original Mary Poppins is unquestionable, from the work of Julie Andrews, to the music, and to the visual artistry on display. It is a classic in every sense of the word, which only makes the prospects of a sequel all the more difficult nearly fifty-four years later. And while Mary Poppins Returns may not quite live up to its predecessor, its ability to stay within the parameters of the original’s themes make it worthwhile in some fashion.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Favourite - Review

Somehow this film is the most normal film in Yorgos Lanthimos career. “Normal” is even a stretch for this wonderfully twisted film. Its oddities are only highlighted when a more traditional royal period piece is releasing within weeks of this (Mary Queen of Scots, more on that later this week). But the combination of brilliant dialogue, tremendously talented actresses, and a touch of cynicism make this a big time Oscar contender as the year winds to a close.

Aquaman - Review

Audiences everywhere are living in a golden age for superhero and comic book entertainment, largely due to two companies. However, while one company has seemingly taken over the world by turning their less popular characters into billion dollar franchises, the other struggles to successfully translate their icons into entertaining films. And even though Marvel continues to succeed time in and time out, Aquaman feels as though DC may have finally turned the corner.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Mortal Engines - Review

Never accuse the film industry of giving up on a concept before they try every available avenue. The dystopian young adult novel adaptations have come a mile a minute since the success of The Hunger Games, with each more similar to the last. Mortal Engines is no different, utilizing every cliché in existence for a film that cannot muster an ounce of anything interesting.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - Review

The world of animation shifted from the hand drawn 2-D animation of so long to computer animation around the mid-90s and never looked back. The occasional classic animated film will come about from time to time, but the creative potential of computers makes the 3-D style hard to resist. And yet the visual styles have never really changed since then outside of differences in designs or looks of individual films. But Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse feels different, it feels like the world of animation just shifted once more.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Roma - Review

Every single year in cinema produces films that qualify as great or remarkable for the craft, performances, or story contained within, and sometimes all three. However, very rarely does the term masterpiece emerge as the descriptor for a film this early into its life. What Alfonso Cuarón does with his newest film is all of those things and more, making a solid case for that elusive title of masterpiece.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Green Book - Review

A story of race and friendship is not a foreign concept in filmmaking, specifically those that involve the relationship between an African American individual and a white individual in the face of glaring racism or danger of some sort. Set it in any time period you like, they’re still designed with a message in mind, to move the narrative forward and widen perspectives or make people feel better about themselves and their own prejudices. Green Book wants to be the former, but undercuts itself so much, it becomes the latter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Creed II - Review

The idea of a new entry in the Rocky franchise following the son of Apollo Creed didn’t sound like a smart idea on paper. It had all the makings of a cash grab seeking to capitalize on nostalgia for the days of the Italian Stallion. And then Creed came out, and arguably was one of the best films of 2015. Now the gang is back, sans the brilliant director, for a sequel that succeeds despite falling back into franchise formula. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Ralph Breaks the Internet - Review

The 2012 original, Wreck-It Ralph, sort of caught audiences and critics by surprise. After years and years of lackluster efforts, Disney had only recently gotten back on track, returning to good storytelling as well as good animation. Even then, however, nothing had truly struck a chord with audiences everywhere, until the heartfelt movie about video game characters and friendship came along to really put Disney Animation Studios back in the game. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Widows - Review

Looking through the filmography of director Steve McQueen would hardly suggest he is the man for a thrilling heist film, and yet upon seeing the film, it makes complete sense. With an aptitude for human drama and sorrow, McQueen brings those same talents to this caper and produces tremendous results. Results that ultimately make Widows a standout in every sense of the word.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - Review

There are proper approaches to prequels and there are improper approaches. The first film in this new Wizarding World franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, did it the right way, introducing a new corner of this fictional world while retaining the familiarity of the original series for a result that while not exactly great, was a decent starting point. Unfortunately, The Crimes of Grindelwald squanders a solid foundation for incoherence and convenience.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Can You Ever Forgive Me? - Review

On its surface, Can You Ever Forgive Me? does not sound like a winner. A story of a curmudgeon writer struggling to make ends meet and the crimes she commits is hardly a story that the masses yearn to see. However, the filmmakers and actors behind the film craft something that requires everyone’s attention, and will likely gain it with heaps and heaps of awards that will inevitably come its way. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Grinch - Review

It is only the second week in November, and yet another Christmas movie is upon us. Never mind the fact that it’s another familiar property adapted once more in hopes of capitalizing on the hopes of those awaiting Christmas, it just happens to be animated this time. The Grinch is far from a complex story, the book only covered 60+ pages or so, and the limitations show in a film that amounts to nothing more than a primer for the holiday season.

Friday, November 9, 2018

The Girl in the Spider's Web - Review

As of this film, there have now been three iterations of the characters of Lisbeth Salander on screen since the first novel’s publication in 2005. The inherent interest in the cold and introverted hacker guarantees that a return to telling her stories is almost an inevitability. The early reviews and box office receipts indicate this version may be the last for quite some time.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody - Review

Without a shred of doubt, the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen is a worthy story to be told on film. That being said, the days of the straightforward biopic have largely died out, and bringing that approach to such a fascinating individual and legendary group is a recipe for disaster. Nevertheless, the folks in charge have brought us Bohemian Rhapsody, a look at the life of one of music’s most charismatic performers, packaged in a boring two-hour film.

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms - Review

Apparently, someone decided that Christmas begins the day after Halloween this year. It’s November 2nd, Thanksgiving is still weeks away, and yet everyone is gearing up for the holly jolly nature of December. Disney isn’t doing anything to help, releasing a seemingly well-known Christmas property almost two months before the actual day is ill-advised from just about every perspective, and as the numbers and reviews are showing, it’s not without reason.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Halloween (2018) - Review

The Mask. The Music. The Murders. 

Everything about the original Halloween has become iconic, and then subsequently run through the ringer of lackluster sequels. But this time is different, or at least it appears so. With the return of the original final girl, creatives that have a handle on how to craft tension, and the promise of resurrecting the nightmares that Michael Myers created all those years ago, the newest Halloween may just show that slashers have a place in modern Hollywood after all.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Bad Times at the El Royale - Review

The promise of a B-movie thriller, littered with talent across the board and an interesting setting is immense. Bad Times at the El Royale is all those things, with heaps of homages and tributes to films in a similar vein that have come before. This colorful affair has all the workings of a truly special film, if they actually come together in an effective manner.

Friday, October 12, 2018

First Man - Review

Space. The final frontier. At one point only a science fiction dream, traveling among the stars became a reality due to sheer force of will of a nation and a space program. Around the center of the crowning achievement of landing on the moon is Neil Armstrong, an enigmatic and determined man. First Man explores the journey to those first steps on the surface of the moon, steps that changed history.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Old Man & the Gun - Review

For a brief moment earlier this year, it seemed as though Robert Redford, the Hollywood icon, would be retiring after The Old Man & the Gun. Fast-forward just a few months, and the 82-year-old actor has backed off of this statement just as quickly has he gave it. There is a plethora of reasons that could’ve led to this backpedal, but his almost final performance as Forrest Tucker proves: everyone should be happy he’s sticking around at least a little while longer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Hate U Give - Review

True to life issues and hard-hitting reality have never been a stranger to the Hollywood treatment. Neither have Young Adult novel adaptations. So naturally a best seller that combines both was destined for the film treatment. The Hate U Give examines the ripple effects of a truly traumatic event has on relationships, one’s psyche, and the community itself. 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Venom - Review

Despite being the worst possible idea, Sony has gone through with their ill-fated plan of a Spider-Man-free universe. Venom is the first of many in development, with other villain led films in various stages if this one produces a profit. And even though quite a few higher quality films fill screens across the country, this trash fire will inevitably make money it doesn’t deserve.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A Star Is Born - Review

Making a successful remake is never easy. So naturally, making the third remake of a film even remotely good might as well be impossible. Yet, Bradley Cooper and crew emerge in 2018 with a modern twist on a classic Hollywood fairy tale, that if is to be believed, will be a huge win, both critically and financially.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Smallfoot - Review

In the animated side of cinema, the themes are fairly prevalent and not terribly subtle no matter who the studio behind it is. Debunking a creation myth and questioning beliefs are not usually the top choice either and yet, Smallfoot attempts to tackle this topic head on, and in some instances, a surprisingly clever fashion. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Assassination Nation - Review

The internet has become an entirely new beast over the last two years, and it's hard to imagine anyone would disagree. Endless shouting over various issues, takedowns of famous figures, and waves of hatred have invaded everyone’s life in some fashion. And that’s what makes the concept of Assassination Nation fascinating. A town torn apart by online scandal doesn’t seem that far-fetched in the year 2018.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A Simple Favor - Review

The modern definition of a noir doesn’t quite line up with the genre tropes of the past, pulling the dark, brooding protagonist into an equally dark, brooding world. But the noir films of old are not exclusively that, and often feature the comedic undertone that has somehow been lost along the way. With Paul Feig’s A Simple Favor, the wise-cracking comedy returns to a noir in fantastic fashion. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Predator - Review

Hollywood never lets a good thing die, and despite killing franchise and franchise, continues to attempt restarting every well-known character in existence. This time, it’s the dreadlocks sporting hunter from outer space, the Predator, back in the hands of a talented filmmaker. And yet the result winds up being the worst possible outcome.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Searching - Review

In a strange and completely unpredictable outcome, the found footage sub-genre has evolved beyond its shaky origins in the woods of Maryland during The Blair Witch Project. Exchanging shadowy figures in grainy video for a film set inside a computer screen doesn’t sound like an upgrade on paper, but Searching proves that this new gimmick is here to stay, and we might just get a few good films out of it. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Operation Finale - Review

World War II is a fascinating period in history, and Hollywood is determined to make sure the public never forgets that through various stories of war and survival. However, the time after the war, the fallout of the atrocities committed has remained relatively untouched. With Operation Finale, audiences are able to see the man responsible brought to justice in a mission that is almost as compelling as the conflict itself.

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Happytime Murders - Review

Presenting a largely family friendly element of entertainment such as puppets in the furthest thing from family friendly has an inherent humor to it in concept. However, The Happytime Murders ran out of clever ideas after the initial conception, leaving a mess that’s hardly worth the effort put into reviewing it. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Alpha - Review

We are slowly but surely reaching the cinematic dead zone between summer movie season and award season. With it comes the dumping ground for the leftovers that couldn’t be squeezed into January. While Alpha was never a potential January release it has jumped release dates four separate times, hardly a good sign for a film. However, the end result is not nearly as bad as the marketing would make it seem.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians - Review

*Insert something about Crazy Rich Asians being the first Hollywood film with a predominantly Asian-American cast since The Joy Luck Club 1993*

The primary talking point surrounding the newest romantic comedy has been around this point, and rightfully so, however, the aspects of this film that should be celebrated should not end at the cast. Crazy Rich Asians may be a simple love story complicated by family, the film truly shines as escapism in the lavish glow of Singapore.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Meg - Review

A strange fascination with sharks has almost become an obsession for humans recently, but it’s been that way for Hollywood since Jaws basically invented the summer blockbuster. Since then, filmmakers have been trying to capture even half of the greatness of the 1975 film, and while some get closer than others, most miss the mark. While The Meg doesn’t even sniff the upper echelon, it’s inherent stupidity could bring some enjoyment.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

BlacKkKlansman - Review

Portraying relevant material on screen has never been a struggle for Spike Lee, a director who consciously looks to tell captivating stories wrapped in biting commentary on society’s issues. With BlacKkKlansman, he may have outdone himself. Using the past to open our eyes to the present, Lee may have crafted his best film in years.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Spy Who Dumped Me - Review

The strain of forcing jokes can usually be felt throughout a comedy that doesn’t quite hit the mark. The Spy Who Dumped Me is one of those films that tries immensely hard to deliver laughs that just don’t come the way they should. Despite having a solid cast and a decent premise, almost every aspect falls flat. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Christopher Robin - Review

Disney and their live-action adaptations are here to stay it appears, though the word adaptation isn’t as exact for this round. Christopher Robin takes a different approach, opting for more moments of darkness than quirkiness in a tale that takes the theme of childhood never truly dying and gets lost with it amidst the trees of the Hundred Acre Wood. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Eighth Grade - Review

Adolescence is never easy. It never has been, but through Bo Burnham’s portrayal of the modern troubles of teenage life, it certainly seems as though it may be worse than ever. The same typical problems of braces, body odor, and popularity still linger, but the presence of the internet, and more importantly social media, takes the anxiety of those issues and amplifies them to new, and frightening, heights.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Blindspotting - Review

In the span of a month, audiences will be given two feature debuts concerning social commentaries in the city of Oakland that are really well received, in spite of featuring a plethora of ideas and themes. The first, Sorry to Bother You, takes a far more surreal approach, while the second, Blindspotting, gets to the root of society’s issues through a realistic lens as it juggles everything it wants to say.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Teen Titans GO! To the Movies - Review

As with any Hollywood trend, there reaches a point where there is enough material for the comedic spoofs and clever parodies to begin. For superhero films, that began in some part with Deadpool in 2016, a character known to be self-aware of his status as a fictional character. And yet, it feels like Teen Titans GO! To the Movies may actually be a more clever, referential look at the comic book movies than that, just with a few more fart jokes thrown in.