Movies & Films

Reviews of both new release and older movies & films.

Men in Black: International Puts the Extra in Extraterrestrial

I had a pretty big Will Smith phase back in the ’90s. So much so that I had a framed poster from, get this, Wild Wild West in my bedroom—yep, that movie with the mechanical spider and . . . you know what, no need to drag myself any further. Two summers before Wild Wild West had come the intergalactic misadventures of the soon-to-be Agent J, a man who encouraged me to rock dark sunglasses and maybe, just maybe,...

Toy Story 4 Is Another Triumph of a Tale

Few animated series make it as far as the Toy Story legacy while remaining sweet, smart, and genuinely heartfelt. It’d be easy to scoff at yet another sequel and to believe that Pixar is milking it, desperate to find something for these characters to do to keep the money train chugging. But Toy Story 4, like previous Toy Story sequels, finds something so clever and emotional I have no reservations about calling it one of the best entries in...

With Dark Phoenix, the X-Men Prequels Have Burned Out

The strongest X-Men films tend to be the ones that favor a more personal perspective rather than an ensemble edge. On this point, Dark Phoenix was on the right track by putting most of the focus on Jean Grey and her unstable psychic powers. But much like its tortured hero, this film struggles in trying to balance a poignant feminist theme alongside the mutant melodrama and explosive theatrics. Just as Jean whispers to herself for quiet to control her...

Rocketman Is a Blast of a Musical Biopic

Some moviegoers had understandable fears about someone adapting the life and career of Elton John for the big screen, especially when that someone would be Dexter Fletcher, the uncredited director called in to salvage Bohemian Rhapsody. Unlike the Queen biopic, however, Rocketman finds more personal and fantastical sweet spots in using its subject’s emotional and unforgettable music to tell his story and offers as much bright flash as fiery drama. It’s also incredibly fearless when it comes to tackling...

Godzilla: King of the Monsters Rules with a Roar

The thing about legends, mythology, and, by extension fandom, is they require some buy-in from the audience. Mythic stories, while interesting individually, aren’t intended to function as one-off tales. The bulk of their power—whether it rests on cultural, Jungian, or nostalgic foundations—comes from the larger universe of story that encircles each particular tale. Hollywood has understood this, to a limited extent, for almost a hundred years. But since the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the increasing competition...

The Nightshifter, Now on Shudder, Is a Twisting Genre Mash-Up

Stênio (Daniel de Oliveira) is a mortician who works the overnight shift in a Brazilian metropolis in the throes of gang warfare. The mundane aspects of his work keep him pretty busy, but he also has the ability to communicate with the dead, who are eager to tell him the stories of their deaths and, in some cases, their wishes for revenge. As Stênio’s strained marriage with Odete (Fabiula Nascimento) gets even worse, one of his “patients” gives him...

Aladdin Wishes Up Some New Spectacle for a Disney Classic

Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin has a bit more confidence than previous Disney animation-to-live-action adaptations. The studio seemingly had enough faith in the director to let him try out new stuff—and while restructuring a revered Disney animated classic from 1992 is risky, it beats just regurgitating the original scene for scene. Thankfully, Ritchie’s reworking is mostly magical in its own way. The story remains relatively the same but with some interesting changes. Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is still the street rat of...

John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum Gets More Bloody, Absurd, and Gorgeous

During a brief lull in the frenzied and vicious violence splattering across the screen in John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum, one rival assassin (Mark Dacascos) who has been hunting our titular antihero takes a moment to gush that he’s a big fan. He remarks with glee how much a legend Wick is in his crusade to live and get revenge on the assassin society that has wronged him. There are others as well who have heard of the brutal and...

UglyDolls Puts On a Colorful Face without Much Underneath

The fears of UglyDolls being little more than a phoned-in narrative built more for pushing toys than weaving a genuine tale are real. But what’s most maddening is that there’s so much potential in the concept that is left unexplored, and the film didn’t have to fall back on predictable characters and lackluster original songs to carry itself. There are brilliant themes of being comfortable with the skin you’re born in, a fear of eugenics in striving for perfection,...

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu Is a Decent Adventure with a Messy Mix of Styles

Adults might be forgiven for wondering how much of a kid’s movie Pokémon: Detective Pikachu would really be. The trailers show a detective neo-noir style, complete with dark lighting and a shady scheme involving conspiracies and murder. But though the film certainly slaps on the Blade Runner–esque atmosphere and a serious suit of intrigue, rest assured that it’s too ridiculously cute with its furry and goofy looking creatures to be taken too seriously. That’s part of the film’s charm...
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