Movies & Films

Reviews of both new release and older movies & films.

Missing Link Is Another Lavish Laika Production

Laika’s daring and artistically stop-motion animated movies always feel like well-oiled machines. Its 2016 film, Kubo and the Two Strings, was a beautifully bold cultural tale with great action and mythical storytelling to a degree not commonly seen in bigger-budget films, especially in stop motion. While the newest project, Missing Link, doesn’t quite have that same breath of bold, it’s still a stellar showcase of how well Laika can weave brilliant artistry with real charm. Consider how this buddy-adventure...

Hellboy Is a Hellish Disaster

I know it’s not fair to compare director Neil Marshall’s take on the demonic hero Hellboy to the visually stunning depictions by Guillermo del Toro, but it’s hard to shake the memories in the face of this jaw-dropping trainwreck. It is the polar opposite of del Toro’s movies, in which the talented filmmaker presented gorgeous displays of unique monsters and locations. The new Hellboy shirks the “show” and topples under the weight of its “tell,” spelling out everything to...

Grief Goes Gruesome in Pet Sematary

Despite the inherently odd nature of Stephen King’s story, a bigger dose of effective somberness would have done Pet Sematary some good. With a varied landscape of horror that can touch on deeper terrors, it had a chance to become a much different movie than the 1989 iteration. Unfortunately, despite the creepy moments and a great cast, the 2019 version doesn’t pack as much of a punch as it could have. But maybe that’s just my desire for a...

Tim Burton’s Dumbo Is Whimsical but Strangely Lukewarm

Translating Disney’s animated classic Dumbo into a live-action film presents a number of issues, from the debate of whether or not to make the animal characters talk to how to inflate what was essentially a one-hour animated movie. It’s certainly a challenge, and director Tim Burton steps up to the plate to give it a shot. Choosing Burton might seem baffling, but it’s a rather sound choice considering he specializes in films about outsiders and creating weirdly compelling visuals....

In Both Book and Movie, Five Feet Apart Keeps Its Side Characters at Arm’s Length

A problem many filmmakers face when adapting a book is fan backlash. Not everything in a novel can make it onto the big screen, whether because of time constraints or production limitations or story changes. Time and time again, fans have voiced their complaints about films they say mangle their beloved books, leaving out important elements or adding in unnecessary filler. So what happens when a book and a film are written by the same people and are nearly...

Shazam! Goes Wild with Classic Superhero Fun

If the DC Extended Universe has been giving itself a more dapper makeover since the darker days of Batman v Superman, Shazam! is the pinnacle of taking the DC Comics characters back to their roots. A darker tale just wouldn’t seem to fit for this titular magical hero, a literal child at heart in a big red costume who fought evil worms from space on the comic page. With gleeful Richard Donner–style adventure, earnestness, and knowing sass, this charming...

Beautiful Tragedy in Birds of Passage

When it comes to the drug trade as portrayed in movies, it always seems like we make mere pit stops around the Colombian villages that manufacture the product. We see glimpses of a warmer, dirtier operation amid a culture of great tradition and intimidation. But Birds of Passage (Pájaros de verano) not only keeps us here but lets us deep within the beautiful and terrifying world. And it’s far from a typical glance, taking in the entire environment, culture,...

Jordan Peele’s Us Is Smart, Silly, Scary, and Sophisticatedly Surreal

If Get Out wasn’t enough to convince you that Jordan Peele has a brilliant eye for horror, his latest production, Us, firmly solidifies him among the greatest of directors. His new film is brimming with brilliant staging, clever design, and a level of snark that always keeps the audience engaged in the film’s strange and disturbing nature. There’s a certain playful energy to Us, which functions as an intricate story worth deciphering in its many allegories and assemblies as...

Five Feet Apart Is a Simply Sweet and Somber Tearjerker

Though it plays within the very familiar territory of teens romancing amid serious health conditions, Five Feet Apart stands apart as a drama that works a little harder for your tears. While the assembly is of a very familiar formula, in which you can nearly set your watch to every tragic beat, there’s an almost standoffish approach to the film’s tale of two unfortunate souls that find love in the hospital. And through its straight and sentimental approach, there’s...

Captain Marvel Blasts through Marvel’s Cinematic Glass Ceiling

Nearly a year ago, Avengers: Infinity War left us jittering with joy when Nick Fury’s uber-pager flashed that familiar eight-pointed star in red and blue. Captain Marvel was officially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Flash-forward to today, and Carol Danvers is hitting screens to take things higher, further, faster. Here’s your spoiler-free review of the MCU’s first female-led film. We’ve known for a while that Captain Marvel would take place in the ’90s and wouldn’t link up to the events...
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