Posted in: Review

Jumanji: The Next Level

Considering that Jumanji started out in 1981 as a 32-page children’s picture book, it’s remarkable that any of its film adaptations have been successful at all. So following up on 2017’s surprisingly enjoyable Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, itself a reimagining of the 1995 Jumanji movie, was probably a task doomed to failure. In the […]

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Queen & Slim

Although Queen & Slim opens like an indie romantic comedy, there’s an undercurrent of uneasiness from the first moments of director Melina Matsoukas’ feature debut. The title characters (who are unnamed until the film’s epilogue) are on an awkward first date, clearly with different aims for the evening. The woman (Jodie Turner-Smith) is aloof and […]

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Frozen II

The massive success of Frozen pretty much guaranteed a sequel (Disney is not the kind of company to let it go when it comes to exploiting intellectual property), but it’s taken six years for the movie’s original creators to put together a follow-up that has the potential to stand alongside the original. It’s clear that […]

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Ford v. Ferrari

The most impressive feat that the filmmakers accomplish in Ford v. Ferrari is to turn one of the largest corporations in American history into an underdog. Director James Mangold and screenwriters Jason Keller and Jez and John-Henry Butterworth set up iconic car manufacturer Ford as the scrappy upstart in contrast to high-end Italian outfit Ferrari. […]

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The Good Liar

As famous and beloved as Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren may be, decent roles for actors their age are still tough to come by, so it’s hard to blame them for signing up for the clumsy, absurd thriller The Good Liar, which lets them play the kind of devious, sexy, powerful characters usually reserved for […]

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Midway (2019)

Back in 2001, Michael Bay turned the 1941 attack by the Japanese on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor into an explosion-filled soap opera in a movie starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale, and now 18 years later, fellow explosionologist Roland Emmerich has delivered his own cheesy action-movie take on both Pearl […]

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Last Christmas

Last year, director Paul Feig took what looked like a Lifetime-style housewife-in-peril thriller in A Simple Favor and put a clever, self-aware twist on a familiar kind of story. With Last Christmas, Feig takes on another much-maligned, TV-friendly genre, the holiday romantic comedy, but he plays this one disappointingly straight, delivering a generic but sometimes charming […]

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Terminator: Dark Fate

James Cameron’s 1991 Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the Godfather Part II of action blockbusters, a sequel that both surpasses and enhances its predecessor, opening up a narrative and emotional world in ways only hinted at in the original. So it’s no surprise that further installments in the Terminator series have struggled to live up […]

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Motherless Brooklyn

Edward Norton has said that he called in every possible favor from his entire Hollywood career in order to get Motherless Brooklyn made, and his sprawling adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s 1999 novel feels very much like a passion project, both for better and for worse. Norton, who wrote, directed and plays the lead role, makes […]

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Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit may have been undermined by its own marketing campaign. The acclaimed comedy filmmaker (What We Do in the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok) has been touting his movie as a bold satirical comedy about Nazis since it was first announced, and the movie’s posters bill it as “an anti-hate satire.” The movie itself […]

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Sunday Girl

Sort of a deadpan version of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, the main character of Sunday Girl breaks up with five of her artisanally crafted hipster boyfriends in a single day in writer-director Peter Ambrosio’s twee, sardonic indie romantic comedy. Dasha Nekrasova is appealing as the seemingly cool and detached Natasha, who chain smokes as […]

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Gemini Man

With Gemini Man, Ang Lee cements his place among A-list directors whose fixations on technological advancements have eclipsed their instincts for quality storytelling. Filmmakers like Robert Zemeckis, George Lucas, Peter Jackson and James Cameron have all, to varying degrees, let their drives for innovation in moviemaking take precedence over narrative and character development. The more […]

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Judy

The Judy Garland of Judy is not the fresh-faced child star of The Wizard of Oz, nor the larger-than-life performer who filled concert halls for decades. Both of those Judys show up in the movie, but director Rupert Goold and screenwriter Tom Edge (adapting the Tony-nominated play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter) are […]

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Abominable

The third major animated movie about yetis in the past year, DreamWorks Animation’s Abominable is far less annoying than 2018’s Smallfoot (from Warner Animation Group) but not nearly as inventive and witty as Laika’s Missing Link from earlier this year. Abominable falls into a bland, safe middle ground, placing a yeti nicknamed Everest into a familiar story about a […]

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Human Capital (2019)

The title Human Capital sounds like it should accompany a heavily researched social-issue documentary about the way that people have been turned into commodities. But Marc Meyers’ adaptation of Stephen Amidon’s 2004 novel is more of a soap opera than a polemic, although it does deal indirectly with income inequality and the dehumanizing effects of […]

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The Riot Act

It’s hard enough to capture contemporary life in a low-budget movie, so attempting authentic period detail with very limited resources is always a dicey prospect. Writer-director Devon Parks takes a big risk by setting his small-scale indie production The Riot Act in 1903, as electricity was just becoming widespread and most people still traveled via horse […]

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Don’t Let Go

The Blumhouse logo at the opening of Jacob Aaron Estes’ Don’t Let Go promises the potential for some creative budget-conscious thrills, but Don’t Let Go is unusually downbeat and somber for a Blumhouse genre movie, with a plot combining stock police-procedural elements and a supernatural twist that might have been passed over for the recent […]

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Good Boys

To criticize the humor in Good Boys for being juvenile seems sort of redundant, since the whole point of the movie is to represent the perspective of a trio of hormonal 12-year-old boys. And yet it’s still a one-note parade of repetitive low-brow jokes pretty much all based on the premise that it’s hilarious to […]

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Blinded by the Light

There may not (yet) be a Bruce Springsteen jukebox musical on Broadway, but filmmaker Gurinder Chadha makes a pretty good case for one with her exuberant Springsteen-themed coming-of-age drama Blinded by the Light. Based on the memoir by Sarfraz Manzoor (who co-wrote the screenplay with Paul Mayeda Burges and Chadha), Blinded uses Springsteen’s music as […]

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The VelociPastor

The job of Brendan Steere’s The VelociPastor is pretty much accomplished with the title. Anyone who wants to see a movie called The VelociPastor is going to watch it regardless of the actual content, and nothing in the movie is likely to convince anyone turned off by the title to give it a second look. […]